The breakout of the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us the importance of a self-reliant lifestyle, and starting your own garden is a great step towards it. Not only will you be able to ditch the trips to supermarkets, but putting your own fresh fruits and vegetables on the table will also provide you with peace of mind about what you consume.
There aren’t many things more rewarding than watching plants grow that were planted by your own hand. Simply strolling into the garden to grab dinner ingredients is a whole new type of joy. Not to mention the drastically reduced grocery bills.
Still, many think that starting a garden is difficult. We’re here to show them otherwise.
Start Small But Colorful
When you look at pictures in gardening magazines you can easily get the feeling that you need to rent a huge plot of land. But the truth is that you can start your planting even with a couple of containers. Large surfaces make room for beginner mistakes, so even if you have a big yard it’s better to start out with a few raised beds or to section off a smaller area.
As a beginner, it seems logical to start with almost fail-proof plants. That will guarantee the feeling of success at the end of your first season, providing you with determination to continue. Gardeners swear in radishes as the easiest vegetables to grow since they sprout quickly and easily, ready for harvest in just three weeks. The same goes for strawberries in the fruit category – since they grow on small plants instead of trees, they’ll get established much quicker and the cultivation is straightforward.
While you should include these easy-to-grow plants, simplicity shouldn’t be your only guide. You should also include some of your favorites, as planting something you love will add great value to the whole process. Then check your grocery list – frequent food obviously deserves a place in the garden, too.
The variety of plants may require some extra effort, but it will be much more exciting and you’ll be able to learn more things along the way.
Prep the Soil and the Plants
The first step is to determine what type of soil you have in your yard. A simple squeeze of the hand is enough to know if the ground has more sand, loam, or clay. That will help you decide on the amount of preparation the soil needs.
In most cases, no matter how quality the soil is, you’ll need to add some fertilizer to make sure your plants will have enough nutrients. If you decided to grow your own food that means you want to be careful what you ingest, so stay away from commercial synthetic fertilizers. There is a variety of organic fertilizers you can find at your local garden center, but the healthiest and essentially free option is to make your own compost.
When you prepare the soil it will literally do the work for you. The roots of your plants will grow deep and reach enough nutrients and minerals, plus there’ll be friendly microbes as a defense against diseases and pests. As soon as you see signs of growth you can kick back as most of the plants will take care of themselves.
But before that moment comes you should know that certain plants also need to be prepared prior to planting. Some seeds and bulbs you can plant directly into the ground, but varieties that are more vulnerable you’ll need to start in seed trays so they can harden before you can transplant them. If such plants are on your list, first check if they’re available in the garden center already partially grown and ready for transplantation. As a novice, there’s no shame in using useful shortcuts.
Serve & Protect
It may sound intimidating, but the only serving your plants will need comes in the form of watering. This is crucial for the process of photosynthesis that makes them grow. In the beginning, every plant needs a lot of water, but later the amount depends on the variety. Your task is to keep your eyes open for any sign of dehydration, especially throughout times of drought. And don’t water them when the sun is strong – choose to do so between early evening or early morning.
When it comes to protection from pests such as insects or birds, or from frost, it’s all about the appropriate cover. If you aim to ward off all the creepy crawlies a fine mesh will do. But if you also have plants that are vulnerable to harsh weather conditions, go for a polythene cover.
And that’s it. If you prep the soil and the plants right, it all comes down to watering and watching them grow. Of course, there’ll be some minor nuances and additional efforts here and there, but taking care of it as it comes is a part of the learning process. And your first harvest will be more than a just reward for the care and effort you put in.