Successful gardening comes when you have some sort of plan. No, you dont need a sketched design and every month of veggies plotted out. It does help to have a loose idea of why, what, where, and when.
5 tips for the New Gardener
- Why are you gardening?
Each of these reasons will have a different answer but all will start in a similar way. SMALL Don't turn your backyard acre or 1/4 acre or 5 acres into garden right away. It can be pricey to make raised beds or run a tiller over that much ground. I suggest starting with 2-4 3x8 or 4x8 garden beds. Dont build raised beds YET. Instead, mark your corners with stakes and run string to show where your beds will be. Then dig up the sod and dig up the dirt to loosen the soil underneath. You can use the double dig method your beds too. I would not bring in soil your first year. Sure you will have more weeds to contend with but $200 to bring in soil your first year is an expense I do not reccomend. I gardened for 2 years in my space before I decided to invest in raised beds.
A common question I hear and that I had is "what should I grow?" Well that depends. If you love tomatoes but hate green beans DONT GROW GREEN BEANS! Just because they are deemed "easy" does not mean you should grow them. In fact, almost every person that gave me advice said grow raddishes. So I did. I really, really, really, dislike raddishes. While it was fun to watch them pop up quickly and gave me a feeling of success.....they were left to the compost because, umm, EWWW.
I would also limit yourself to ten, yes 10, types of food( or flowers if thats your thing) the first time. It may not seem like much but you are starting small. No sense in growing a bunch of things, to become overwhelmed and let it all go to weed. Still wondering what to grow? Here is my list of easy favorites, tomatoes is NOT on there but if you rally love tomatoes the give it a go.
Best plants for Beginners (IF YOU LIKE THEM)
Potatoes (this is iffy)
Calendula (edible flower)
You need to look at yoru yard and decide where gets the most sun. Is it out of the way from foot traffic but close enought that you are encouraged to visit you new garden daily? Are you container gardening or in ground gardening. Perhaps, before you dig up your yard, you can look into a community plot for the year IF you think you will visit it several times a week. Mostly remember that all plants need light. Maybe not direct but at least some warmth/light. A southwest facing area is great for early spring planting and heat loving summer plants.
4. When do I plant?
This will depend on where you live. For me, in the Maritime NW, this means April 20th is pretty much a safe bet that my plants will live. If you are planting a seed in ground you do not want to do it before the last frost. And honestly your first year, you are hopefully saving money on garden costs by NOT using raised beds or new dirt, and can splurge on starts from a local company. These seedlings are hardened off for you by the local nursery and ready to plant in ground with minimal if any protection. To find out your frost dates, moon planting schedule, and just a good all around resource, use the online farmers almanac. I look at this every year in January or so.
5. Have fun!
The point of gardening is to enjoy yourself, your food, and bring a little country in your life. If its stressful, you wont want to do it. So start small, dream big, and get your hands dirty.