How to Start a Garden for Beginners

Box of vegetables text overlay How to Start a Garden for Beginners
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How to Start a Garden

Gardening is a great hobby that offers a variety of outstanding benefits. If you want to start a garden but you’re not sure where to begin, this post will go over everything you need to know on how to start a garden.

1. Decide What to Grow

Picking out what you want to grow is the very first step when you’re learning how to start a garden. Since you’re a beginner, consider vegetables that your family loves to eat. This can help you save money and reduce your dependence on the grocery store.

For example, my son loves green beans, so he grows some in his children’s garden. We also have a salad every evening with dinner, so we grow our own lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers.

Since you’re just getting started with gardening, start small with a few easy-to-grow plants that are good for beginners. If you need some help deciding what to grow, these posts can point you in the right direction:

2. Get the Right Gardening Tools

Once you know what you want to grow, you’ll find gardening better with the right tools. While it’s easy to go overboard and buy every tool you see, you can stick with these basic gardening tools:

  • Hand trowel– A sturdy hand trowel is absolutely essential. You can use it to make holes for seedlings, dig out old plants, and work the soil for planting new seeds.
  • Gardening gloves– Some people don’t mind getting their hands dirty when they garden, but if you want to protect your nails, cuticles, and skin, a pair of gardening gloves is a must.
  • Snips– You’ll need a way to harvest fruit and vegetables, deadhead flowers, and trim back branches. That’s why you need a pair of snips.
  • Dibble– Some seeds need sunlight for germination, so it’s important to follow the directions on their packet and plant them at the right depth. A dibble will make sure your seeds are at their desired depth. (A quick side note: While I do use this dibble, it’s marked in centimeters and, since I live in the United States, my seed packets use inches. So I simply marked my own inch lines on it.)
  • Claw cultivator– A claw cultivator can help break up tough soil and roots so it’s easier to plant seeds.
  • Watering can– You can’t always rely on rain to water your plants, so you definitely need a watering can for your garden.

When you’re shopping for your garden tools, skip the cheap, plastic equipment and purchase quality tools. Not only will this make it easier to garden and reduce your risk of injury, but it will also save you money in the long run since you won’t have to constantly buy new tools.

3. Pick the Right Spots

Different types of plants require different amounts of sunlight to survive. Some plants need full sun throughout the day to grow. Other plants require shade and won’t grow properly if they get too much sun.

As you’re planning your garden, take a look at your yard and notice how much sun you get during certain times of the day. This will help you make sure you put the right plants in the right spots.

4. Choose Your Type of Garden

One of the great things about gardening is that it’s adaptable. We live in Florida, and we don’t really have soil in our backyard. We have sand. There’s not much that likes to grow in sand.

That’s why we have a container garden. Everything we need we can grow in pots around our yard. Container gardens are also great for people who have small spaces.

If you live in an area that has rich and fertile soil, you might be able to plant directly in the ground. Raised garden beds are another great option to consider.

5. Test Your Soil

Most plants like neutral soil with a pH around 7. However, just like different types of plants prefer different amounts of sunlight, they also like certain types of soil. For example, potatoes prefer a pH around 4.8 – 5.5, and cabbage likes a pH between 6.5 and 6.8.

If you’ll be planting your garden directly in the ground, it helps to know what type of soil you have. To do this, you can use a simple at-home soil test kit.

Once you know what type of soil you have, you’ll have a better idea of what you can successfully grow.

In addition to testing pH levels, you should also note the characteristics of your soil. Does it have a lot of clay, sand, or rocks? If so, you might have more success with a container garden.

6. Plant Your Seeds

After you’ve decided what type of garden you want and what type of plants you’re interested in growing, it’s time to plant your seeds. Most seed packets will tell you how deep to plant the seeds and whether it’s better to start indoors and transplant when temperatures are warmer or sow directly outside.

If you do need to start your seeds indoors, you don’t have to go out and spend extra money on seed starting pots. Instead, you can use toilet paper rolls to make your own seed starter pots.

7. Spread Some Mulch

Mulch helps keep moisture around the roots and prevents weeds from growing around your plants. Not only does this make sure your plants get the nutrients they need, but it also means you won’t have to water as much.

There are different types of mulch that range from shredded bark to rock. Since you’ll be growing vegetables to eat, I recommend you create your own compost that will naturally nourish your plants.

8. Water Properly

If you don’t get enough rain, you’ll have to water your garden to help your plants survive. Of course, giving your plants too much water is just as bad as not giving them enough water.

You never want your seedlings to dry out, so you’ll likely need to water them daily. Transplants need watered every other day so their roots can establish. Once your plants get larger, you don’t need to water as frequently.

Keep in mind that sunny and windy conditions will dry out soil more quickly than cool and cloudy conditions. It’s also better to water in the morning to minimize evaporation.

One good way to know if it’s time to water is to feel the soil 3 to 4 inches below the surface. If it’s dry, it’s time to water.

9. Tend to Your Garden

Watering isn’t the only thing you need to do to keep your gardening growing. You’ll also need to tend to your garden.

Watch out for weeds and pull them as soon as you see them. You should also trim off dead, dying, and diseased vegetation to keep your plants healthy. Tall plants like tomatoes and climbing plants like green beans will need a cage or trellis to help them grow.

If you spot any destructive insects on your plants, banish them right away with an organic solution. After all, if you’re going through the effort to learn how to garden so you can grow your own food, you don’t want to put toxins on what you eat.

10. Enjoy Your Reward

Once your garden starts to mature and produce, it’s time to enjoy all of your hard work. Keep in mind that many plants will stop producing if their fruit stays on too long, so you should harvest regularly.

When you do harvest, you can use this homemade fruit and vegetable cleaner to make sure everything is clean and safe to eat. You can also check out some of these recipe collections for inspiration on what to make:

How to Start a Garden for Beginners

Whether you’re interested in homesteading or simply trying to reduce your dependence on grocery stores, gardening is an important skill to master. Once you learn how to start a garden, you’ll have thriving plants that will offer plenty of health benefits and put food on your table.

More Eco-Friendly Living Tips

Now that you’ve learned how to start a garden, are you interested in even more great eco-friendly living tips? Then be sure to check out some of our other popular posts:

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