Grow Your Own: Beginner’s Guide to Gardening
Spring is here in the Northland! The earth is warming and nature is awakening from its cold, dark slumber. It’s time to get out there and start dreaming about all the amazing foods you’ll grow this season.
You’ve decided this is the year to “plant a garden.” Whether you want to save money or eat the freshest and most nutritious food possible, your decision to “grow your own,” is one of the best health decisions you’ll ever make.
You Can Grow Your Own - Make a Plan
New to gardening? Wondering how to start? You’ve come to the right place. Growing your own food is easy provided you understand a few basic requirements. Like every successful project, it begins with a plan.
1. What do you want to grow? Ask yourself what you like to eat. Make a list of veggies you want to grow. Some veggies such as onions, and lettuce, require minimal space, others like cucumbers, watermelon, and pumpkins need A LOT of room to grow.
2. Start small. Begin with something easy. A small raised bed (instructions and ideas below) or a pot of greens or a potted tomato plant is a good idea.
3. Buy plants the first year. After you’ve gathered some experience you’ll want to start your garden (in some cases) from seed. Starting with plants will give you a better chance at a successful garden.
4. Plants Love the Sun!
Virtually all vegetable and fruit plants require a minimum of 6 or more hours of sunlight per day. Your location on the globe will determine when and what you will be growing in your garden. If you live in the coastal Pacific Northwest you can grow some beautiful cool weather crops. However, the scorching summer heat of the Arizona desert will never produce lettuce. Even tomatoes will not fruit when the weather gets hot.
Northern Gardeners with a cooler, short growing season will need to grow their gardens in full sun.
Southern Gardeners with a long, hot, growing season will need to provide afternoon shade to the garden.
Learn from the Pros
Old-timers and seasoned gardeners have a wealth of knowledge. You’ll find that most “plant people” love to share their gardening wisdom.
Talk to your local nursery folks, garden center, co-op members, etc. You'll get a good understanding of what plant varieties and gardening conditions are best for your area.
Benefits of Gardening
Great exercise and fresh air
Commune with nature
Bond with family members
Sense of accomplishment and sometimes a good laugh!
Basic Raised Bed Design
Raised beds are ideal for the new gardener. You’ll get better yields, and it’s much easier to keep your garden watered, fed and keep weeds down. Always remember to keep your bed no wider than 4 feet. This way you can work it from both sides and NEVER have to walk on it. Keeping your soil loose is key to gardening with a lot less effort.
You Will Need:
1 Framing Material
Natural, free materials are best. Abundant rock or stone in your area? Cement blocks are functional, albeit not as aesthetically pleasing.
Wood also works, but never use treated lumber or old railroad ties; it’s toxic to your soil and the plants will take up those poisons and give them to you! That’s one good reason to grow your food organically.
Your bed should be 50/50 mix of organic compost and organic garden soil. Mix these well in your wheelbarrow, add just enough water to moisten. Dirt should not be too dry (won’t hold shape) or too wet (looks like mud).
Line up 2 rows of framing material 4 feet apart, to your desired length. Place more framing material on ends to make a square (or rectangle). Your bed can be as high as you wish, however, it should be a minimum of 12 inches. The higher your bed, the more soil you will need.
Shovel in soil to fill and rake smooth.
Using your gardening book as a guide, place plants at specified width for optimal growth. Dig a hole big enough to comfortably accommodate your plant’s roots. Place dirt in hole around plant and gently tamp down with your hands to remove any air pockets. If you’re using cement blocks, utilize the area by planting in the block’s spaces.
Bless your plant and welcome it to its new home!
You’ll learn a lot by reading Rodale’s Basic Organic Gardening: A Beginner’s Guide… but your real knowledge will be your experience. Your gardening venture is unique and special to you.
Stay tuned, we’ll have more on gardening tips and projects to come! And as always, Happy Gardening!
Must Have Books & Resources
Rodale's Basic Organic Gardening: A Beginner's Guide to Starting a Healthy Garden Since the early 70’s, Rodale books have been the leader and authority in organic gardening. This is a great book for the first time or "seasoned" gardener.
Companion Container Gardening: Using Easy Companion Planting Techniques to Get More from Your Small Space
This one is great for patio container gardening and getting your thumbs “greened up!”
Carrots Love Tomatoes: Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful
I've been using this books for years to grow healthier and happier plants. Beans and peas do not like to be grown together and will not thrive, and more! You'll be amazed...
I’ve been ordering from these folks for years. They have amazing products, growing tips and more on their website.
Nature sings in the hearts of those who garden, while God delights in the joy of the gardener.