A garden brings beautiful flowers, fresh and healthy vegetables as well as relaxing working moments and the joy of watching your plants grow. Although it may be daunting and confusing at first what you will get is rewarding. Here is some advice for you to kick off this enjoyable and healthy hobby.
Plan your garden
Make a list of what crops you want and where to grow them.
Each plant has different needs of sunlight, water, and nutrients. Make sure you know their growing requirements by doing some research beforehand to choose your crops and suitable gardening method.
Depending on your place, budget or schedule, pick a method which suits you the best. You can either choose in-ground gardening, raised beds, container gardening or more complicated yet innovative like hydroponics or aquaponics which use no soil at all.
It’s best to start off with local and easy to grow vegetables or flowers.
Start a garden journal.
It’s where you keep records of plants’ requirements, soil preparation, seed germination, fertilizing, pest control and the like. You can choose either a paperback notebook or an app. A classic paperback notebook is personal and fascinating to look at while an app is not only systematic but also provides connection among gardeners.
Purchase basic gardening tools.
You can be overwhelmed with the long list of tools, but you don’t need to buy everything. Basic equipment includes:
– Trowel: For digging, weeding, mixing compost
– Spade or shovel: similar to a trowel’s use but for heavier tasks.
– Pruner: For cutting branches and harvesting flowers, vegetables.
– Rake: For cleaning up weed.
– Shears: For trimming and shaping trees, shrubs or bushes.
– Garden gloves: For protecting your precious hands of course.
Clean the area.
Get rid of the sod. Digging it out is a better idea because it also helps loosen and aerate the soil, which makes it easier for the root to penetrate and kill pest as well as some soil-borne insects and diseases. But if you are too busy, you can cover it with newspaper or cardboard and wait about four months for them to decompose.
Enrich the soil.
Add organic matter: compost, aged manure, decayed leaves or straw, wood chips. Till it into the soil if you dig the soil up or just leave it on the surface.
Sow the seeds or buy transplants.
After deciding on what crops you want to grow, you can choose between seedling or purchasing transplants. Sowing seeds saves money, has diversity and joy while buying transplants is a faster and easier way.
Put your plants in the ground.
Make sure that the weather is right for your plants before putting them in the ground. When you sow the seeds directly on the ground, there is no need to worry about transplanting. If you sow the seeds elsewhere or buy transplants, the containers usually come with planting instructions. In case of there are no instructions, follow these process:
First, dig a hole with a shovel.
Then, take the plant out of the pot or container:
Turn the pot upside down, squeeze to loosen it then gently pull the pot upward. If the plant is kept in a thin plastic container, you can use a good pair of scissors to cut the it apart. Don’t pull a plant out vigorously by its leaves or stems because you can damage the root or even kill it.
Next, loosen the roots by gently rubbing them until they stick out. Again, be kind to them as they are crucial for the plant’s future growth. This step is important because if you don’t loosen the roots, the plant will “think” that they are still confined to the pot, won’t spread out and grow at their best.
Don’t forget to adjust the depth of the hole until the plant crown is at the right height. Lay the plant in the hole and use the dirt which you dug up to fill it up. To avoid compaction, pat the soil slightly instead of pressing.
Water generously and gently so as not to wash away the soil.
Cover the soil with mulch.
Mulch helps your soil retain water, keep weeds away and improve soil fertility and organic content as they decompose. Straw, hay, shredded leaves, compost, bark chips or even newspaper can make a good mulch.
Nurture your garden.
Now your new garden has been “born”. Just like a baby, we must keep nurturing our garden with regular watering, fertilizer, pest control or protection from severe weather. Check your garden journal for information and keep track of what you have done, success or failure.
Reap your harvest.
Apparently, this is the best part. But before picking up your flower or vegetable, there’s one more thing to do. Find out about some tips on how to get the best of them. For instance, if you harvest zucchini when they are more than six or seven inches long, they would become tough and woody.
After a lot effort, it’s time for you to enjoy your blooming flowers or healthy and fresh vegetables.