Having a garden is a great way to enjoy the outdoors while also getting some delicious fresh-grown fruits and vegetables for your meals. The thing is, if you’ve never maintained a garden before then you might not realize just how much work goes into it as well. You need to consider the type of soil you have, the amount of sunlight your plants receive, and how often different plants need water… you even have to think about what sort of things to plant and when to plant them! For newcomers to gardening, it can be pretty overwhelming.
That doesn’t mean that it’s not worth doing, of course. You just need to be sure to garden smarter, not harder. A lot of work goes into a successful garden, and a decent portion of that work involves figuring out how to maintain your garden and what you should avoid. While we can’t cover every possibility here, if you’re new to gardening, the following tips should put you on the path to garden success.
Planning Your Garden
A lot of planning goes into a successful garden. You need to take the time to choose a spot for your garden, plan out a plot with enough room for all your plants to thrive, and ensure that you have easy access to water (or some other plan in place to get water to the garden) so that your growing plants don’t have to rely on unpredictable rain to get the water that they need. To avoid flooding, you’ll need a mostly flat area, with soil that drains well, that isn’t located in a low-lying area. An area that gets sun at least 8 hours per day is also important for a lot of garden plants.
Once you have a space picked out, you can avoid a lot of problems by testing the soil’s pH with a soil testing kit. Most vegetables grow best in soil with a pH between 6.5 and 6.8, so if your soil falls outside of this, you’ll need to amend it to adjust the pH. This can be done by adding things such as lime, wood ash, or commercial soil adjustment mixes, and tilling them into the top 6 inches of soil. Follow instructions on the packaging and test your soil again, making additional amendments as needed until it falls within the desired pH range.
Know What to Grow
After picking a good garden site and prepping the soil, the next key to success is picking the right plants for your garden. Consult a planting zone chart to see which zone you live in, then make your selections based on plants that thrive in your zone. You should also pay attention to the growing conditions that your plants prefer; while many plants like full sun, some may prefer partial shade. To accommodate that, you may have to set up a small barrier or other sources of shade to block the sun for part of the day.
One last thing to keep in mind is that the planting and growing requirements for different plants can be significantly different. Some need to be planted shallow, while others do best when planted deep. Some can be crowded and thinned later, while other plants need a lot of room from the start. To get the best possible harvest from your garden, follow the planting instructions for your different plants as closely as possible. If there are notes about the plants needing support or climbing structures, you should accommodate that from the beginning as well.
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