Gardening for Beginners
According to the Garden Writers Association, over 41 Million US households grew a garden last year¹. Nearly twenty percent of those gardens were planted by first-time gardeners. Home gardening is a cost-effective and enjoyable way to supplement your home’s food supply, and an excellent activity in which to involve your kids. If you are among the millions who will plant your first garden this summer, Stein Gardens & Gifts has prepared the following six-step gardening guide to help you get started.
Step 1: Select Location. The first step is to determine where you will plant your garden. An area in your yard that gets six to eight hours of full sun in the summer is ideal.
Step 2: Select What to Plant. Next, decide what types of vegetables, fruits and herbs you want to plant. Keep in mind that some varieties, like tomatoes, peppers and squash, will continue to produce throughout the growing season while other varieties, like carrots, radishes and corn, will only produce once. Plan accordingly by planting fewer of the multi-producers and more of the one-time producers. Whether it’s your preference to seed your garden or start with existing plants, Stein Gardens & Gifts offers a wide variety of seeds and plants to choose from. Click here to learn more about the various vegetable and herb plants available at Stein Garden & Gifts.
Step 3: Determine Garden Size. Once you’ve made your selections, it’s time to size your garden. Each variety you’ve chosen will include information on required planting space. We suggest sketching your garden first on paper, detailing where you would like to plant each variety, leaving adequate room for foot paths so you can access your plants without disturbing them.
Step 4: Prepare the Soil. Loosen the top twelve inches of soil to make sure that the developing roots have plenty of room to grow. Use either a large digging fork or rent a Rototiller to speed up the process. Rake the soil after loosening it to flatten out the garden bed, and then mix two inches of organic matter, such as peat moss or compost, into the soil to help nourish your garden.
Step 5: Plant your Garden. Water your garden thoroughly the day before planting. Reference your sketch to help determine where you will plant each variety. Make sure to plant the taller varieties at the back of the garden so they do not shade your shorter plants. Because paths are critical for ongoing care and maintenance, you can create more structured paths with items such as mulch, cocoa shells or bricks. Mulch is an excellent option because it also helps control weeds and maintains the soil’s moisture. Once you are ready to plant your garden, dig a hole for each plant as deep as its container and one to two inches wider. Gently remove each plant from its container and loosen any matted roots. As you position each plant in its hole make sure that the root ball is even with the soil’s surface. Some plants may require staking or metal support rings as they grow. Finally, mark each variety so you can identify them later with ease.
Step 6: Caring for your Garden. Regular watering is the most important way to successfully maintain your garden. It is best to water early in the morning so water does not prematurely evaporate and to reduce fungal and bacterial disease. Water as needed, making sure to water directly on the ground, not on the plant leaves and fruit. Use garden netting to keep animals such as rabbits and birds from eating the fruits of your labor. Insecticides can also be used, but keep in mind that some insects are actually beneficial to your plants, as are fertilizers and plant foods. Regardless of whether you use insecticides, fertilizers or plant foods, always wash your vegetables thoroughly before eating them.
Our six-step guide has you well on your way to successfully planting your first garden. Visit your local Stein Gardens & Gifts today and let our gardening experts help you select the items you need to bring your garden to life.
Source: ¹The Garden Writers Association, 2009 Edible Gardening Trends Report.