Hi there and welcome to our blog on gardening advice and gardening tips for beginners! As the world goes through this time of self-imposed exile, most of us have had time to make ourselves more productive by working on areas that we have been only daydreaming about.
If it is gardening that’s on your mind, you have come to the right ‘garden of ideas’! Let’s get going and make the most of the gardening advice in this article, shall we!
How to start a garden
Get ready to enjoy the fruits of your labour as we delve into the basics of gardening for beginners. Here are some easy-to-understand tips and advice that will answer all your questions to help you get started on creating your dream backyard space!
1) What would you like to cultivate?
From fruits, vegetables, and herbs to flowers, which of these would you like to start with? Focus on items that you will enjoy the most.
Weather & Storage
How will the weather affect your garden? What type of produce are you looking to harvest for food in the coming months and when should you start planting? Are you equipped to store your harvest? Or will you produce to consume it all fresh? The answer to all these questions is: Planning is key.
Study data on your gardening region and if possible talk to successful farmers in your area to shortlist the food and produce that is ideal for you.
2) Location is key!
Will the area be convenient enough for you to prepare the soil, sow your seeds, water and nurture your plants? You don’t want to choose an area affected by high winds.
Is the area a hotspot for children, pets, or wildlife like deer and rabbits? Choose carefully.
Party in my garden anyone?
On the other hand, the garden in your house could also be a great spot for unwinding or celebrating. If you are concerned about any ungainly sights in your garden, opt for some privacy solutions like barriers, etc to keep prying eyes away.
3) Here comes the Sun
Your garden should be sited such that it gets at least six hours of direct sun so you get a healthy yield of fruits and veggies.
My sunny garden!
Root vegetables, herbs, and greens can work with partial shade. The late afternoon shade is great for Southern gardens whereas Northern gardens need all the sun they can get.
4) Water is life…
The garden needs to be located near a water source. This will be crucial to refresh your produce and get the bountiful and fresh yield that will be a source of joy and pride to you.
5) The ideal garden bed for you
Should you plant in single rows or blocks? Garden beds that are about three feet across and 10 feet long are ideal to maintain in terms of reach. This will also minimize walkways and maximize the space needed.
Bring in the bees!
Garden beds will also save time and money as the area for things like working, watering and manuring is well defined. Keep in mind that companion plants help in improving your yields by attracting interest from beneficial insects like bees.
Raised or sunken beds?
A raised garden bed is great to look at and easier to work on. But do remember that this can drain water and dry out very quickly. Sunken beds are great in dry areas as they can gather available moisture.
Optimize your resources
You can get innovative by planting in large, discarded pipes or old water tanks. Or go vertical if you are short on space. This will also help you optimize the use of resources like water and fertilizer.
Grow bags and self-watering containers
Grow bags or self-watering containers can also come to the rescue if you have limited space to grow your plants.
6) Essential garden tools for the user
Here is a selection of 10 basic garden tools that accomplished gardeners use. These tools will make gardening that much easier.
Choosing a wheelbarrow that suits your gardening needs is crucial. You can choose from two types of wheelbarrow buckets: steel or plastic.
Steel wheelbarrow buckets can bear more weight, but they are susceptible to rusting and are heavier to deal with.
Plastic wheelbarrow buckets are lighter and usually cheaper than steel, but they can crack from too much weight, extreme temperature fluctuations, or improper handling. Wheelbarrows are used for moving mulch, compost, gardening debris, and smaller plants on the site.
A dibber is a long, pointed stick that pokes identical holes into the soil to plant seeds, bulbs, and seedlings in your vegetable garden. A dibber is crafted from wood, metal, or plastic and can range in width and come with straight, T-shaped, or D-shaped handles.
iii. Digging spade
A spade is a tool primarily used for digging. Regular spades easily rust and the soil tends to stick to them whereas a good stainless steel spade stays smooth, making digging easier.
iv. Garden Trowel
A garden trowel is a hand tool with a pointed, scoop-shaped metal blade and a wooden, metal, or plastic handle. It is a commonly used tool and is comparable to a spade or shovel, but is generally much smaller, being designed for use with one hand.
v. Fork Hoe
The Chillington fork hoe is for cultivating and weeding. The tines of this forged hoe easily penetrate firm soil to stir and aerate the soil, or to remove weeds along with their roots. It provides better leverage, making digging a lot easier as compared to other digging tools.
vi. Garden knife
A gardening knife is one of the most useful tools to have for a gardener. It can be used for chopping lettuces, kale, and other crops, trimming fruit, cutting string, sticks, and flowers.
vii. Garden Secateurs
Secateurs allow the user to complete any essential pruning or landscaping job on-site with ease. Often referred to as “pruners”, they give you the extra cutting strength that you need to cut, prune and trim your foliage with a simple squeeze of an easy-grip handle.
viii. Heavy Duty Hoe
This heavy-duty and well-balanced tool is ideal for everything from turning soil and breaking the site to removing weeds easily. Its blade is set at a right angle to the handle allowing the lever-action to minimize the effort required to work it.
ix. Golden Gark
The Golden Gark is a multipurpose, everyday garden maintenance tool, which is a rake, shovel, and soil sieve in one. This lightweight tool is ideal for larger jobs like clearing up all weeds or fallen autumn leaves and shovelling them into a wheelbarrow when you are done.
x. Oscillating hoe
The oscillating hoe is a long-handled garden hoe with a swivel head. The long handle enables a gardener to hoe an entire raised bed from the same place. Its razor-sharp blade travels below the soil’s surface and slices through the weeds.
7) Testing your soil
Soil pH affects a plant’s ability to absorb nutrients. Most garden crops prefer soil with a pH around 7 (neutral), although some like conditions that are slightly acidic or alkaline. Soil that is too acidic or too alkaline can adversely affect a plant’s growth and productivity.
Hence you will need to perform a soil test on your garden bed to determine its nutritional content and pH level. If the results suggest a deficiency, add the necessary nutrients to remedy the problem.
You can always enhance your soil by adding compost to it. Work the compost into the soil with a rototiller or manually with a garden pitchfork. Then, rake the ground level to prepare it for planting.
Once you have grasped the basic concept of layering organic materials and providing just the right amount of moisture and air, composting is quite easy. Tiny natural organisms will quickly turn organic waste into the most nutritious soil additive available.
8) Preparing the ground
Most crops grow best in rich, crumbly loam soil teeming with beneficial life within, like earthworms and microbes. Adding compost and other soil builders such as shredded leaves is one way to gradually build up productive soil.
Fertile ground is ideal
If you’re starting with sod, you can either cut it up in chunks and repurpose it, till it in, or lay down wet newspaper or cardboard to smother it and build a bed on top.
Preparing in the fall is ideal, but you would do better by starting in spring. Most plants prefer a deep, well-drained, fertile ground rich in organic matter.
Tilling is a great way to rework the ground and correct nutrient or pH imbalances. But take care not to overdo it as repeatedly tilling will result in a fine, powdery dust that dries up and packs hard like concrete when dry weather follows rain.
9) Choosing the right seeds
When choosing garden seeds, it’s best to your mix up your selection to grow a variety of crops. Biodiversity prevents pests and soil degradation. A diverse harvest also means more nutrients for the consumer.
Study the labels
Studying the labels on your seed packets will help. This will also tell you if the plants you are growing need sun, shade, or partial shade.
You can choose varieties of fruits and vegetables that suit your needs. You may focus on things like flavour, a specific size, high yields, fast growth, or other priorities.
Find a planting calendar for your area to suit your climate zone and show you which plants grow well in different seasons. It will also often give you information on what month you should start your seeds. You should also research into the basics of what is traditionally grown in your area and look for information on seed companies near your place.
10) Nurturing your garden
Nurturing involves setting aside quality time to monitor the growth of your plants. This will help you sort out all or any problems along the way.
Weeding & watering
First of all, get rid of any weeds while they are small with a fork hoe. The plants will need around one inch of water per week during the growing season.
In reality, overwatering is as bad as underwatering. Soil that is too wet can cause seeds and roots to rot.
Feed your plants
Foliar feeds like compost tea can be added to give plants extra nutrition and a dose of healthy microbes while watering.
You can ‘brew’ your own compost tea from the liquid in your compost pile. Spray this at the base of your plants throughout summer.
If you have healthy, well-nourished plants, your pest problems should be minimal. Bugs are more attracted to plants that are stressed or in some way deficient. Look for organic solutions rather than sprucing your plants with toxins?
11) Time to harvest!
As your plants mature, harvesting and preserving them promptly will ensure you get the best quality with maximum nutrition.
Harvesting is best done in the morning when the weather is cool.
Harvest beans, tomatoes, and peppers to encourage growth and more production from the plant. Cucumbers, Zucchini, and other vegetables should be harvested when they are palm-sized.
I love home gardening as it is an ideal and fun workout, a great stress buster, and improves your diet. I hope this article will help you pick up the basics and bring all your gardening dreams to life.
Dear beginners: bye for now and enjoy your newfound passion!
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