A Beginner’s Guide to Gardening
Topic #2: How to Start a Garden
Homestead Gardens Beginner’s Guide to Gardening series continues to assist novice gardeners create their very own garden.
After you’ve assembled all the necessary tools, it’s time to put them to use and create a garden in your yard. Starting a garden consists of several steps, and those in the Chesapeake Bay region can benefit from either raised garden beds or natural in-ground garden beds. Follow this helpful guide when you start a garden so you can enjoy fresh homegrown vegetables and picturesque landscapes year after year.
- Choose the place: Whether you’re starting a flower or vegetable garden, the spot you choose is crucial. Most flowers and vegetables need at least six hours of sunlight each day for optimal growth. Spend a day monitoring the sun path in your yard or use a sun calculator to learn where the sun shines most. It’s also important to avoid making a garden near trees, as their roots can stunt vegetable growth. Additionally, make sure your water source is easily accessible from the location of your garden.
- Dig out the sod: This is a time consuming and complex process. You don’t want to dig when the soil is too dry or too wet – test the soil by grabbing a handful and forming a ball, the soil should be wet enough to form a ball but dry enough to break up when dropped. You should also perform a soil test to see if you need extra chemicals or fertilizer for better growth – a soil test will provide essential information including pH and nutrient profile details. Using a gardening shovel or tiller, turn up the soil 8 or 12 inches deep two times. After you’ve dug up the soil, add any organic materials like compost to the top and water it. After watering, let the garden sit for a few days. Since you turned up the soil weed seeds creep to the top and need to be pulled before you start to plant.
- Plant: Now for the fun part. Follow the instructions on your seed packets and begin planting.
- Water: New seedlings need a lot of water, so make sure to water often. Use mulch to keep weeds out and moisture in.
- Pro tip: Place a 2-inch deep layer of soil amendment, like Leaf-gro® over the surface of your garden for optimal growth and to promote a healthy harvest.
Gardening is a rewarding activity and something you can enjoy for a lifetime. If you have any questions about starting your garden, stop by one of the two Homestead Gardens locations in Davidsonville or Severna Park, MD and speak with our experience garden staff members. Make sure to look for our next beginner’s guide post, which will highlight some of the plants that are easy to grow for beginning gardeners.