The Ultimate Guide to Gardening for beginners

There are several reasons you might want to start gardening. Maybe you’re looking for a new hobby, or you want to live a healthier lifestyle, or maybe you want to save some money by growing your own food, well.. in most cases for a beginner it could turn much more expensive. If you’re a novice when it comes to gardening – you may have two thumbs, but you have no idea if either of them is green – but there is no reason to fret and get overwhelmed. This is a quick and easy look at gardening for beginners and how to build in some ideas that your garden grows successful. As an example I included a few failure stories from Nicole B, an aspiring gardener and a friend of mine. Here is the first one Things You Shouldn’t Do in a Vegetable Garden! The point of this stories are to show that a good homework is the best choice even in gardening!

The Gardening Basics


gardening for beginnersLet’s start with the basics of gardening for beginners and what you need to get started on the right road.  Believe it or not, it does not start by playing in dirt.  Instead, it helps if you sit down and sketch out your plans and decide where to plant, how much you can handle, what vegetables your family will eat.  Garden placement is very important because you need to make sure you have adequate sunlight and soil drainage.  A hot and dry summer will mean lots of watering for you so make sure you have a nearby water source.  Once you’ve mapped out your placement, it’s time to think about what kind of garden?  Those ideas and decisions need to be made early in the planning process because they truly affect the entire process.


Importance of Planning in Gardening

You may cringe at the planning process and are anxious to get out there and play in the dirt, but a good garden plan can make or break your season.  If you’re unsure about how to arrange your garden to capitalize on complementary vegetable placement, do your research.  Yes, it seems tedious and can be, but could help to draw out your garden plan on paper so you can visually see a bird’s eye view of what your garden is supposed to look like.  There are plenty of resources offering garden tips for beginners so take advantage of as many free information as you can.


How Important is Garden Placement

This is also a very important part of the planning process because you need to take many factors into consideration like trees, shade, buried pipes, and water sources.  If you plant too close to a tree, its roots can bully and steal away all the nutrients from the soil.  One thing that could help you if you own a compact yard is to marry flowers with your vegetables.  The right mixture can complement and actually help feed your vegetables.  Try researching information on flower gardening for beginners to help you decide if incorporating flowers can help your garden grow.


What Types of Gardens are There

There are all types of vegetable gardens for beginners, it’s time to decide which kind you want to plant. You have plenty of options including vegetable, herb, flower, a combination, organic, and container gardens. If you don’t have much room or you live in a city and have limited access to soil, container gardening for beginners is a great option that can help you eat healthy foods you grow yourself. Now is the time to make the decision about what you want in your garden and how you plan to care for it and if you want to grow it in the ground or in containers. These decisions will impact the rest of your garden season. Since we touched organic gardening, here is another failure story from Nicole.


Vegetable Selection for  a New Gardener

Vegetable gardening for beginners is quite difficult because you want to do so much your first year out there, but you can waste a lot of energy growing things that your family won’t touch.  If your family won’t eat it, why bother growing it? Seriously.  They will not decide to like brussel sprouts just because they came out of the backyard.


How Important is Soil Preparation


It’s important to know what kind of soil you have to work with so you know what how to prepare it for nurturing your future garden.  You can visit your local extension office or gardening supply store and purchase a soil test kit.  This will show you which properties are too high and give you options to balance out your levels.  Your local garden supply store can help you find the right fertilizer, lime, nitrogen, phosphorus, or other soil enhancements to help you.  There is no uniform answer to your question so your soil test is quite important.


Vegetables need well drained soil.  If your plants sit it water after a soaking rain or good watering, they can begin to rot.  If you’re unsure about drainage, you can build up your row leaving small drainage ditches in between each row to catch draining water.


Do Sun Exposure Really Matters


Sun exposure is also very important to your garden.  Most vegetable plants need full sun exposure, meaning at least six hours of full sun per day.  Eight full hours of sun exposure is preferred.  Finding out the best placement for your garden just takes a little research.  Just watch your yard area for a full day to see the areas that get the most sun.  Keeping good notes will help you.


Water Matters and Why?


The type of vegetables or flowers you plant will demand different allowances of water.  Natural watering by rainwater is best, but we all know that Mother Nature certainly doesn’t work around our schedule.  Most gardeners like to use soaker hose pipes because they simply weep water at the base of the plants so you don’t waste water.  Try keeping an elevated rain barrel next to your garden to help cut your summer watering costs.


Garden Size


Experts agree, the number one mistake new gardeners make is over planting their first year.  Inexperience gives us a “Superman” complex and we think we can easily tame several acres of vegetables in your first year.  Garden experts say it’s better to plant a smaller garden and see success, than to kill yourself with something too big.  You’ll only burn out your passion for fresh vegetables and lose friends when you try to give them more of your loot.  This first year, try planting 4-5 easy to grow vegetables that your family eats on a regular basis.  If you’re feeling a little under-challenged, try throwing in a few complimentary helps nearby.

Everyday Tasks for a Healthy Garden


Planning and planting your garden is only the beginning of your summer full of work.  Your first enemy in the garden will be the weeds.  If you’ve tilled in some lime into your soil, they may not be as fierce, but you will have to keep those weeds out of your bed.  Your next enemy will be the pests.  If you’re trying to go chemical free or organic, you’ll have to find an all natural way to combat these bugs.  If you plant it, they will come so you might as well be prepared to fight for the fruit of your labor.  Thirdly, you’ll need to keep a check on watering your garden.  The best time to water is in the mornings before the sun has a chance to dry out the plants and evaporate the water before it reaches your plant’s root system.  A weeping or soaker hose is a great addition to your gardening arsenal because you can install it and forget it – only turning it on and off for about 10-20 minutes in the mornings.


Final Advice


1. Plan ahead:  You can never plan too much when it comes to gardening.  In fact, planning for worst case scenarios might help you work smarter and not harder.


2. Be Realistic:  Don’t bite off more than you can chew.  It’s ok to start small.  You don’t have to go after the neighborhood garden award this first year.  If you’re unrealistic and plant too much, you run the risk of hating the process and quitting.


3. Make it Fun: Gardening should be fun.  Victories in the garden make it fun.  You’ll want to have people over so they can gush over your food and you can brag, “I grew that.”


Images credits:

Photo by ConstructionDealMkting