Gardening is not only a fun activity but it provides you with fresh produce in the convenience of your own yard. Have you always wanted to start your own garden, but you’re not sure where to begin? Get ready to spend time outdoors this summer and enjoy some of the best tasting fruits, vegetables and herbs you’ve ever eaten. Here are some tips on how to start your own backyard garden.
Decide what you want to grow: Avoid creating waste by picking crops you plan to actually eat. Focus on fruits, vegetables or herbs you and your family enjoy the most. If you plan on creating a small garden, don’t attempt to grow large watermelons or pumpkins. If possible, talk to successful gardeners in your area to find out which crops grow well in your area and which ones to stay away from.
Choose the right location: Most fruit and vegetable crops need a lot of sun, with at least five hours of direct sunlight each day. However, greens, herbs and roots typically grow best with partial shade. Think about which locations in your backyard will best suit the crops you plan on growing. Also, consider wildlife, pet damage and children’s play areas when picking a location.
Invest in basic gardening tools: The right tools will make your time in the garden more enjoyable and less of a chore. Basic equipment such as a garden hoe, dirt rake and garden shovel will keep your garden clean, healthy and organized. Buy second-hand and shop yard sales and estate sales for the best bargains on tools. Remember to get tools that are the right size for you to reduce the possibility of injury.
Test your soil: Before you start planting, be sure to test your soil. Is your soil acidic, alkaline or neutral pH? Do you have sand, clay, silt, rocks, or a mix of all four? Is there a risk of soil contamination from nearby structures or roadways? Some of these characteristics can be determined just from looking at the soil. Others may require home or lab tests. Balanced nutrient levels will grow the healthiest and most nutrient rich crops!
Choose the right plants and seeds: To learn which plants grow best directly seeded in the garden and which plants are better as transplants, speak to professionals at your local home and garden store or do some research online. Whether you plant directly in the soil or start growing your crops in a plant pot, make sure they have the adequate space they’ll need to grow and flourish.
Don’t forget to nurture: Plants needs to be nurtured. If you don’t have the time in your schedule to tend to your plants, you may be better off hitting the farmer’s market, or sticking with extremely low maintenance items like sprouts or herbs. Depending on the size of your plantings, time requirements may range from a few minutes per day to a full time job. A rule of (green) thumb for watering is that plants need about one inch of water per week during the growing season. If you don’t get consistent rain, you’ll need to water.
Starting a garden at home is a great way to save money and get up close and personal with nature. Gardening can be a fun year round activity (depending on the types of crops you grow) and can be a great way to spend time with friends and family.