Gardening 101: 10 Steps to Starting Your Own Garden – EcoWatch

Dreaming of growing your own fruits, vegetables and herbs, but not sure where to start? Growing a garden can feel overwhelming, especially for those of us who feel like we don’t exactly have the green thumb.

But don’t worry, this is a beginner’s guide to gardening.  

EcoWatch spoke with master gardener Kathy Ging from Eugene, Oregon, who said the biggest misconception about gardening is that it requires too much time and money.

Sure, you’ll need a bit of both of those to get started. But Ging says gardening is a “priceless activity [that] enhances tranquility and personal, community homeostasis. ” 

Throughout this article, we’ll share some of Ging’s expert tips that will have you turning your fingers green in no time.

Environmental Benefits to Starting a Garden 

Before all of us get into how to start the garden, let’s talk quickly about why you should begin gardening (aside from growing your personal food, of course).

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Horticulture has a ton of environmental and health benefits. You’re probably aware that plants take in carbon dioxide and produce oxygen, but you may not know that plants also absorb a ton of harmful chemicals, bacteria and other elements that may be floating through your backyard. 1

Growing your own personal fruits plus vegetables saves you money at the grocery store and reduces the carbon emissions associated with traveling to get ahold of the produce.  

Gardens furthermore provide valuable habitats that support biodiversity, and they reduce the amount of pollution stemming from agricultural runoff. Plus, no plastic bags or packaging is required when you’re picking your produce right from the particular backyard.

Yet gardening has some mental and physical benefits for humans as well. Studies show that will those that garden are more likely to eat veggies, giving you essential nutrients like vitamin A, calcium, potassium and fiber. 2  

In addition , working outside in the sunshine is a great way to get inside some vitamin D, as well as some exercise — yes, gardening can be quite the workout!

“It is mentally healthy, even essential, to take a break through screens plus noise that dominate fast-moving lives, ” Ging adds. “Exercises in food security create a degree of self-reliance and appreciation of nature’s food web. ”

ten Steps in order to Starting the Garden

  1. Find the Best Location For Your Backyard
  2. Determine What You Will Plant
  3. Prepare the Garden Area
  4. Purchase Gardening Supplies
  5. Test and Improve Soil
  6. Prepare Planting Beds
  7. Choose the Right Plants
  8. Begin Planting
  9. Nurture Your Garden
  10.   Enjoy plus Maintain

1. Find a very good Location for Your Garden 

A backyard with big garden beds and plenty of sunlight would be a gardener’s dream, but it’s not a requirement to have a successful garden. It’s possible to grow herbs and vegetables inside small spaces , want on a balcony or even on a windowsill.  

If a person don’t have a yard or even home suitable for gardening, consider joining a community garden.

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There’s one thing that you can’t compromise, however, and that’s sunlight. Almost all garden plants need direct sunlight in some capacity.

Fruits typically need regarding five to six hours of direct sunlight to develop, while some vegetables plus herbs may grow in partial shade. If your backyard location is mostly shaded, you’ll want to consider leafy greens (arugula, kale) or root vegetables (potatoes, carrots), as these people don’t require as much sunshine.

Also, pick a spot that will be easily accessible for you to regularly water, weed and pick your harvest.

2. Figure out what You Will Plant

The next step to starting a garden is figuring out what you want to grow. Of course , you will need to be realistic about your own garden space and climate and which plants will be able to thrive there.

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The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a helpful Grow Hardiness Zone Map you can check to see which plants are most likely in order to thrive within your location.

If you are growing edible plants, choose ones that will you or even your family members actually enjoy eating or cooking with, or find a place to donate or sell what a person grow. Otherwise, you’ll have the full harvest that’s going to waste.

If you’re lacking area, consider vertical gardening. Exactly as it sounds, you can use fencing or trellis to grow your plants up instead of out. This works especially well for tomatoes, peas and cucumbers.

3. Prepare the Garden Area

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You’ll need to prepare your room and soil to properly develop a garden, whether you’re growing directly in your yard or from other containers like a raised garden bed. If you do not have space, or your own soil is usually rocky or even clay-like, you won’t get the best results through planting straight into the ground.

Ging said using containers is great for beginning plants. You can also repurpose meals containers for this purpose, like egg cartons.

“I have used tofu storage containers, [they’re] the tad deeper and stronger than many garden six-pack [containers], ” Ging said. In case you do use a food container that is not made from cardboard, make sure you put drainage holes in the particular bottom.

Ging added that plants in containers plus raised backyard beds are preferable within wet areas, as they need more water than vegetation in the ground. Should you be going this route, realize that you’ll have to stay on top of watering.

If you are growing directly within the backyard, you’ll need to clear a patch of weeds and sod and loosen the ground. For quick results, slice under the sod with a spade and put it on your compost pile to decompose.

As an expert tip, Ging recommends adding mycorrhizal fungi in order to enhance your compost, and some worms if needed. She said you need to add fresh compost to your garden area every year.

4. Buy Gardening Materials

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A person don’t require us to tell a person that you will need seeds, soil and fertilizer to start a backyard — but a healthy and successful garden also requires other tools.  

Which garden tools you’ll need will certainly depend on the size plus scope of your backyard as nicely as the plants you’re growing. Here’s where we’d recommend starting.

Gardening Tools to Consider:

  • Gloves: You’ll want a thick pair that is durable but not bulky.
  • Pruning shears: These come in a variety of sizes and styles, but bypass pruners are usually best for live plant life.  
  • Garden fork: Just as it sounds, this big fork-like tool makes it easy to turn your own soil and compost piles.
  • Hand trowel: This small hand tool is definitely helpful with regard to planting crops and natural herbs in containers and regarding weeding.
  • Spade: The spade will be used in order to dig much deeper holes and is especially useful if you have harder soil.
  • Rake: A standard leaf rake is needed to clean up your garden area plus gather debris if you’re making your own compost.
  • Hoe: For a vegetable garden, you will likely want a sturdy, wide hoe, while flower gardens need thinner, more delicate hoes. Flat backyard hoes are good for switching soil.
  • Garden hose: To properly drinking water your garden, you’ll want a gardening hose along with an adjustable nozzle for different water pressures.
  • Watering can: Helpful for small indoor or balcony gardens where a hose isn’t an option.
  • Fencing: You may want to think about fencing your garden in to keep animals from snacking on your own garden (looking at a person, rabbits).

5. Test and Improve Soil 

A garden is only as good as its soil. If you’re planning upon a backyard garden, you’ll want to make sure your lawn is usually healthy . An easy place to start is with a soil examination.

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You’ll require to know if your soil is clay, sand, silt, rocks or a combination. If there’s a risk of soil contamination or even lack associated with nutrients, you will wish to address it before planting. Most garden plants prefer neutral soil, with a pH level of around 7.

Believe it or not, there are plenty of eco-conscious lawn care companies , like Sunday Lawn Care, that may conduct ground tests intended for you and help manual you to improve your dirt health effectively prepare your own yard to get your backyard.

6. Prepare Planting Beds

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There are typically two gardening seasons — spring and fall. Ideally, you should start prepping your garden area the few months before planting month.  

If you have the particular luxury of time, consider the sheet composting method, furthermore called “lasagna gardening. ” And zero, it doesn’t involve developing ingredients to make lasagna.

Lasagna gardening is a no-dig horticulture method that will helps you turn organic waste, like leaves, vegetable scraps plus coffee grounds, into nutrient-rich compost and soil. You can prepare your soil or plant mattresses with these four steps:

  1. Take a newspaper or a cardboard box plus lay it down as your backyard bed.
  2. Use small pieces of carbon materials (vegetable scraps, peat moss, freshly cut grass) one-inch thick over your base.
  3. Add another layer associated with nitrogen components (straw, coffee grounds, dry leaves)
  4. Repeat the process at least twice or even as many times because needed to fill outside the house bed, but you’ll want at least 4 inches of organic compost.

Most plants need deep, fertile, well-drained garden soil to thrive. You can also buy worm castings and mulch specific for your plant specifications. Just be sure in order to stay away from any products that contain toxic chemicals that can harm wildlife.

7. Select Your Plants

We’ve talked about choosing the particular plants that will thrive within your climate and with the right quantity of sunshine inside your prepared garden mattress. Now, it’s time to obtain those vegetation.

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When you’re not quite sure what you need to plant, these are some of the easiest garden veggies to develop:

  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Green beans
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Peas
  • Peppers
  • Radishes
  • Swiss Chard
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini

You have 2 options — seeds or transplants. Transplants, also called set plant life, are young plants that you may buy and plant straight into your own plant bed. As the beginner garden enthusiast, you may like the idea associated with having a plant that’s already on its way. But be aware that a few vegetables don’t transplant properly from dirt to earth. Seeds are usually also much cheaper.

We also recommend planting native flowers that attract pollinators , as they’ll help your plants grow while furthermore helping the environment flourish.

8. Begin Growing

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For best results, the majority of plants should be planted in the spring after the chance pertaining to frost has passed. However , there are some plants, like root vegetables , that can tolerate the particular cold and are best planted within the fall.

In the event that you’d such as, you may start growing your seed products (or nurturing your transplants) indoors inside containers while it’s still cold outside. On your own windowsill or even under develop lights are usually good places to do so.

The good news is that most seed packets or plant instructions can tell a person the best time to plant, since well as depth plus spacing guidelines.  

For seeds, you will typically need to moisten them (not too wet or they will rot) prior to planting them. You’ll want to plant all of them roughly three times as deep as the diameter of the seed unless the particular seed package says otherwise.

If you are planting transplants, you’ll desire to remove plants by pushing them up from the bottom. If the roots possess tangled, massage them gently with your hands in order to loosen all of them before setting them in to the openings. Then pat the land around the roots and soak the particular soil along with water.

9. Nurture & Maintain Your Garden

The job is far from over once your plants are in the floor, plus the time commitment and maintenance your garden requires will depend on which plants you grow, the weather along with other factors.

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When it comes to sprinkling, you’ll have got to do your own best Goldilocks impression and find an amount that’s “just right. ” Both overwatering and underwatering are dangerous for your garden. As a general rule associated with (green) browse, plants need around one inch of water a week during the growing season.

Once you have the garden, you’ll find yourself taking a bigger interest in the weather. For example , you’ll have got to pay a lot more attention to the particular rain to make certain you and mother nature are on the same page with your providing water schedules.   You’ll also have to watch out there and prepare for temperature drops plus cover your plants if you think there could be frost.  

Keeping weeds as well as other pests away from your vegetation will become important maintenance as well.

“Learn to identify and eliminate weeds — organically, of course , ” Ging said. “A permaculture pro suggests cutting weeds at floor level plus leaving the roots and adding the top to compost. ”

Unless it’s invasive, in which usually case a person should discard the marijuana altogether, Ging said.

In this case, mulch is definitely your friend, as this keeps pests away plus helps your own plants maintain the right amount of moisture. If you do possess a weed problem, consider buying a toxin-free bud killer from a trusted eco-friendly lawn company like Weekend Lawn Treatment or Lawnbright.

Lastly, pull any dead, dying or diseased plants as soon as a person see signs of it so they will don’t bring your some other plants down with them.

10. Harvest & Enjoy

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Harvesting will look different for each crop you plant, so it’s important to educate yourself on the best period to pick meant for each herb.

While several crops (like berries) might be obvious based on color, right now there are others (like peppers) that a person may wish to pick when they’re nevertheless a bit green, allowing them in order to ripen and sweeten off the vine.

Speaking associated with green, designed for leafy greens, like lettuce and kale, you can simply clip the leaves to eat plus then leave the rest of the particular plant to grow back for an additional harvest.

If you’re having any trouble, reach out to local professionals. A person can find some growing plants advice from your local plant nursery or community garden groups.

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