Who doesn’t want a stunning garden in their porch or backyard? Harvesting flowers or vegetables you’ve grown yourself is a fulfilling experience you shouldn’t pass up. But not knowing where to begin often discourages gardeners-to-be. Fear not! All you need are these gardening steps and tips to bring out the green thumb in you.
Step 1: Choose Your Plants
Gardening at home starts with deciding which plants to grow. Your options depend on the size of your planting area, of course. Also, they should thrive in your region’s weather. If you’re a gardening beginner, consider growing hardy, low-maintenance crops. Australian native species, for instance, are good starter plants.
Do you love working in the kitchen? Perhaps, herb plants in pots or an organic vegetable garden will suit you best. If you have lots of open space, citrus fruit trees are also ideal as they grow year-round. On the other hand, flowering plants are perfect for container gardening. Whichever you choose, make sure to do your research, particularly on the amount of care required.
- Start small. It’s easier to manage a mini garden and expand later on.
- Plant crops that you’ll eat. Harvest the fruits of your labour to keep your plants growing.
- Ask around. Talk to garden centre people to learn the best crops to grow in your area.
Step 2: Prep Your Location
Learning all these gardening steps is no use without healthy soil for planting. Whether you are using pots or garden beds, your soil should have the right components to support plant growth. Check if you have a sand, loam, silt or clay soil type to match your crop and soil treatment.
Determining the pH and nutrient levels of your garden soil type may need home or lab tests. There are also tests to identify potential sources of contamination. You can learn more about these through the garden centre people. Follow their advice and prep your planting area as required.
- Aim for a neutral pH level. Most garden crops prefer soil at pH 7.
- Layer your soil with organic matter. Manure or compost should increase its nutrient levels.
- Find a sunny location. Most fruit and vegetable plants need 5 hours of sunlight to grow.
- Plan for easy garden access. Also, protect your garden from your pets, wildlife and weather elements.
Step 3: Plan Your Garden Beds
You may proceed to the rest of the gardening steps if your space is not spacious enough for garden beds. But if you do, make sure they are the correct size. Ideally, the beds should be narrow enough so you can reach their centre on any side. Avoid overcrowding your plants as well.
- Raised bed kits are ideal for beginners. These are easy to assemble and durable.
- Consider vertical gardening. Pallet gardens can make the most of your limited space.
- Wicking beds suit busy gardeners. These self-watering boxes are also space-efficient and weed-resistant!
Step 4: Buy Basic Tools
There’s no need to buy every gardening tool available. Start with a set of essential tools. These include a garden hoe, shovel, rake and some hand tools like a pruner or lopper. You’ll probably need a hose or watering can and sprays to handle garden pests, too.
- Steer clear of plastic tools. Metal tools are more durable and cost-efficient.
- Pick the right tool size. Garden tools that are too big or heavy will only increase the risk of injury.
- Have a dedicated tool shed. Clean your tools after use to make them last longer, too.
Step 5: Plant, Water and Maintain
This one is perhaps the most challenging of all gardening steps. If you choose to use seed packets for planting, make sure to read and follow the instructions. Some seeds require a certain soil depth, while others need light to germinate. For seedlings or young plants, you may want to grow them in containers first before transplanting as older plants are more stable.
When it comes to watering, make it a habit to check the soil first with your finger or hand. If it feels dry, then it needs water. If soil sticks to your fingers, skip watering and check again after one to two days. Using compost tea or egg water is also an excellent way to boost plant nutrition. Once you start expanding your garden, consider making homemade compost out of your food scraps, too.
Step 6: Harvest and Enjoy!
A gardening journal or calendar should help you keep track of your crops, pruning time and harvest schedule. Take note of the best time to harvest to enjoy optimum nutrients and taste of your produce. If you happen to grow a lot, make sure you know the best way to preserve them. Better yet, share your harvest with your neighbours and give them as gifts!