8 Steps to Beginning your Garden Adventure
Starting your first garden can be a daunting task. However, with some patience, planning and these 8 simple steps you'll be a pro in no time. Slip on your gloves, because here's everything you need to know to get gardening as a beginner.
1. Choose the Type
Decide what sort of garden you’re interested in creating. Will it be herbs for your taste buds, bright flowers full of joy, a nutritious veggie garden or a little bit of everything? Its’ important to start small, plan with care and grow your garden slowly.
2. Find the Spot
Things to keep in mind when selecting the area:
- Most plants need around 6 hours of sun each day, so look out for the spot that gets a steady amount of light.
- The recommended garden size for beginners is around 4.5 x 3.5 m.
- Pick a place where you won’t be able to avoid its calls for care – By the back door, outside your kitchen window, close to a water spigot.
Don’t forget to check the soil before you get digging. You can use store-bought kits or send a sample to a local nursery to test the soil’s pH and nutrient levels. This will give an idea of what to plant and how to care for the soil. Also check the texture – it should shovel easily, crumble in your hands, and be free of rocks or clay-like patches.
3. Improve the Soil
Now you’ve chosen the spot it’s time to look at how to get the most out of your soil. Even if it seems ideal, it’s always beneficial to improve the soil quality. One way to do this is to work compost into the top 20-30 cm of soil using a shovel. The compost will decompose over the following few months so the best time to start is during winter.
Another way you can improve your soil is with a bit of newspaper, time and patience. While this method does take a lot longer to process, you won't need to turn any soil. Begin by covering the garden bed area with at least 5 layers of newspaper. Overlay this with 5-8 cm of compost and leave to rest for 4 months or so. The newspaper will break down in this time, mixing the compost’s nutrients with the soil underneath.
4. Pick the Plants
Don’t be ashamed to choose the “easier” plant options. Early success is exciting and inspiring, so why not start simple?
- Veggies are a great starting point as one mistake won’t spoil months of work. Lettuce or radishes are easy to grow from seeds. With a little water and a lot of sun, tomatoes will flourish all summer long.
- Sunflowers are also a great choice. They grow quickly and will brighten anyone's day.
- You could also start with young plants as all you have to do is plonk them straight into a hole in the garden bed.
In terms of selecting seeds, quality over quantity is always the best bet. Using high-quality seeds will increase the chance of germination and more successful long-termgrowth.
5. Plan and Organize
Research your plants - Know how big and tall each one will grow and space them appropriately. Check the guidelines on your plant tabs or seed packets. Let your plants grow without disruption and or competition for nutrients. Note that shorter plants are best sat closer to the front and rims of a garden bed. Also take a few minutes to place small labels beside your plants - even the best of us can be forgetful sometimes!
6. Give some extra T.l.c
Putting in some extra effort is always valuable in the long-run. Mulch is great for reducing weeds and maintaining soil moisture - with the added bonus of looking good! Fertilize also helps create better tasting veggies and healthy vibrant flowers. Use dry fertilizers half-way through the season, or a liquid fertilizer every month.
7. Get gardening
Take the time to ensure you’re planting and harvesting at the right time. Use a calendar to keep track of the planting dates for your veggies or flowers.
Remember to water carefully, don't give too much or too little. Newer plants may need more frequent watering as their roots are still developing. The best time of day to give some hydrating love is early morning before the sun heats up. This means the plants can get the most out of the water.
8. Enjoy the Journey to Come!
Keeping a journal is an awesome way to keep track of your garden’s journey. Make notes along the way to ensure your garden grows to its full potential.
When it comes to gardening, patience is definitely a virtue. Check on your garden regularly, but as they say - “don’t fix what ain’t broke”. Unless something looks amiss, don’t over fuss – be patient and let your garden flourish in peace.