Starting the Garden
You will want to choose a good spot for your garden that is best for what you are growing. Your plants may want full sun or partial shade. Just be sure to keep that in mind when placing your plants. Once you have the area cleared for your garden, it is a good idea to add some nutrients to the soil. Mixing in a compost will cause the soil to loosen up. Most plants do not like hard soil, so if you cannot add something to make it looser, your best bet may be a raised bed garden. Raised bed gardens are usually small gardens that just sit atop your current yard and have walls that keep the soil together. These are great for those who just want a small garden. If you want even smaller, then container gardens might be right for you. This means one plant in one pot. These are convenient if you have limited yard space and helps if you need to bring in the plants during inclement weather.
What to Grow
Now that you have your soil all ready to go, you need to make a big decision. What do you want to grow? Many a first-time gardener will choose the tomato. They are easy, and there is a wide variety to choose from, grape tomatoes to huge heirloom varieties. Whichever you choose, you will likely do just fine. GARDEN WARNING! Just because the local store sells a particular vegetable or fruit, it does not always mean it is well suited for your area. Look at the labels. Besides telling you how to plant and grow the item, it will also tell you for which zone it is best suited. For even better information, check online to find what types of vegetables grow best in your area.
At most garden centers, you will have the choice of getting a plant that has already started or picking from a multitude of seeds. If you choose the seed route, you may want to get an inexpensive seed starter kit. These include a container that has compressed soil pellets. These are also great for kids as they can learn about where food comes from. Some kits also have packets of seeds to use. These kits are easy to use and fun to watch as your seed sprouts and begins putting out leaves until you transplant it into your garden. However, this also takes more time, and if you did not get started on your garden soon enough, it may be past the best time to start from seeds.
Using the plants that the garden center has already started may be your best choice. It has the benefit of a few weeks of growth already, and it is ready to transplant. You can also do both seeds and starter plants. This will allow you to stagger your garden production rate so that you have more produce throughout the season.
Follow the directions on how to plant your veggies. For example, when transplanting tomato plants, it will tell you to dig a hole deep enough to cover two-thirds of the plant. Trust the instructions. They will help you have the best chance of growing your garden by making sure you do not plant too deep or too close to another plant.
So now, you just throw water on it every day, right? Nope! You can easily drown your garden with good intentions. There are many variables for watering your garden. Different plants need different amounts of water. Your climate can also dictate what how often you water. As a rule of thumb, if you stick your finger into your soil and the top inch is dry, then you can water. If it is moist, your plants are probably still happy. If you have a rain collection system, then your plants will be happiest with that instead of tap water that goes through a process to make it safe for drinking.
Weeks have passed and your garden rewards you with the freshest produce. Be gentle with your plants; do not just pull off the first ripe tomato as that may distress the plant and it may cause damage. Sometimes, it is best to use garden shears to cut the veggies off to limit stress on the plant.
If you take the time to prepare your soil, pick your produce, and water them, you will be rewarded with flavors of fruits and vegetables that are truly amazing. Perhaps next year you will want to expand your garden. Talk with friends that do gardening regularly or check with a local nursery for tips and information about how to make the best garden you can.
AANR Guest Blogger