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Gardening for Newbies

I posted two weeks ago that I am starting a garden this spring! I also posted that I knew next-to-nothing about gardening and that I had a huge project ahead of me. I’m probably not the only aspiring gardener out there so I thought I’d share what I’ve been learning. And I’ll continue to update this post as I learn more both from my research and my own mistakes (and hopefully successes!) in my garden here.


Steps to having a beautiful (and fruitful) garden:

  1. MAKE A PLAN!!! I cannot stress this enough. You have to know what kind of space you’re working with and what things you want to plant before you do any of the hard labor. Each type of plant requires different spacing, amount of light, or does particularly well next to other plants. In addition, some plants are better put in the ground after being started in a greenhouse or planter instead of being planted straight from seed (tomatoes are really hard to grow from seed, so those in particular I recommend buying plants). If you are starting from seed, you can see much of this information printed on the back of the packet as well as how long the seed takes to mature. Depending on where you live, you may be able to plant your garden sooner than later. Be sure to look up when the last freeze generally is in your area and plan around that. Bottom line: measure the space where you want to plant,
  2. Prepare the ground! The soil, if it could even be called soil, in the plot for my garden is especially terrible and I’m having to put a lot of time into this one. Begin by removing any rocks and weeds from the area you want to plant. If there are a lot of weeds, I recommend skimming off the very top layer of soil with a squared-off shovel and getting rid of it so the weeds are less likely to return and be a pest for you later. Once the rocks and weeds are gone, use a rake to turn the soil. Do this multiple times, adding in a conditioner (I was told Azomite, a trace mineral powder, is great) and maybe a top soil if you think the ground you’re working with is especially lacking in nutrients. If nothing has been done with your chosen area in some time and the ground is particularly hard, you may need to use a sprinkler to wet the ground before this step just to loosen things up.
  3. Plant!! Like I mentioned before, some plants take longer to mature than others, and some plants have a harder time surviving the cold. So make sure you pay attention,  if you’re planting seeds, to plant at the right time. It takes a lot of coordination and planning.  My recommendation, if this is your first garden, to buy all of your plants already started at your local nursery (or IFA, Home Depot, or even Walmart) and plant them all at once. This will make your life so much easier and, most likely, make your garden more successful.
  4. Water, weed, and repeat. This will be most of the rest of your life as far as your garden goes. Your little plants will require a lot of care and attention, but if you do a little bit every day, it will be much more manageable.
  5. HARVEST!! This is the most exciting part! Once your little garden starts producing, add harvesting to your watering/weeding routine and enjoy the fruits of your labor! Make sure you stay on top of this… If you don’t, you’ll have giant zucchini and mushy tomatoes.

Final tips: Make sure you have good tools, especially in the beginning when you really have to work the ground to get it ready. Take a class!  A lot of nurseries or farming stores host free classes that teach you what to plant and when, how to plot out your garden, and how to keep your plants healthy. Plant marigolds around the edges of your garden and in between your rows; they are great for keeping away bugs!

Like I said, I’ll keep updating this post as I learn more and I hope you’ll let me know in the comments how your own gardens are going!

A Garden!!

I’m planting a garden!! My husband keeps reminding me that I’m in for way more work than I think, but I am thrilled about the idea. I do already feel like my days are running away from me and that I never accomplish everything that I want to in a day. However, I think that if I add more things that I love to do, I’ll be more motivated to get things like mopping and laundry done quicker! And I so want more excuses to spend time outside. Cora and I go walking every morning, and I imagine that as it gets warmer, we will start hiking more regularly and going to the lake (at which point I may wish I never started this project…) but for now I feel like we are mostly stuck inside all day. You can only walk to the grocery store and back so many times in a day. And I know this is going to be so good for me and be so much fun! I have already been so energized by the idea and have been ecstatic when plotting out my rows of vegetables and my little flower bed. Thus far, the friendly guys at our local IFA have been very helpful in remedying the fact that I know next to nothing about gardening. I now know that if I were to have planted this early in the year, all of my plants would have frozen and died and I would have to had to start all over. I am the kind of person that when I get an idea in my head, I want to do it NOW and complete the entire project ASAP. In that regard, gardening is going to be a very good lesson of patience for me. Not only can I not plant until almost a month from now, but once I do plant, all I will have for quite some time is little lumps of freshly turned dirt with seeds only I know about inside. Immediate gratification is not achieved when gardening…

However, I am looking forward to the pride I will feel when I {hopefully} can stand in my yard and enjoy the scene of brightly colored dahlias and marigolds amongst my home-grown produce! Because there is nothing better than a fresh tomato warmed by the sun straight out of your own back yard!