Home Garden How To Start – “How do I start gardening?” I get this question all the time, so if you’re thinking about it, don’t worry – you’re not alone! While there seems to be hundreds of details to learn, and it can feel downright overwhelming at times, it actually doesn’t have to be! This article will go over the essentials to consider to help you plan your first garden, but the simple answer is:

If you’re here reading this, sincerely interested in trying to grow fresh food for yourself and your family, you’re already on the right track! The most essential element is the willingness to learn and experiment!

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Think first about creating a small, manageable batch. You’ll have plenty of time to design your dream garden or worry about the details of pest control and automatic irrigation later. Over time, through trial and error, looking for information as questions arise and talking to other gardeners, you will find out. You WILL make mistakes, but you will learn from them. And your successes? They will be just as sweet (or spicy!). I will be here to help guide you on your way.

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We started our first garden 12 years ago, planted on the lawn of my rented house in college. This was long before the days of “Instagram-worthy” designs, Pinterest vision boards, and how-to online tutorials. we seriously had

What were we doing! It consisted of two small beds made from reclaimed wood, a few large pots, and a few things planted directly in unmodified soil. It wasn’t cool, nor was it pretty. Let’s be real~ it was a raggedy, random, yummy mess! BUT we have successfully grown some of the basics for beginners: cherry tomatoes, zucchini, basil and even a nice big melon! It was the juiciest, sweetest melon I have ever tasted. That’s when I got hooked, hungry for more!

Choose a spot in your yard that gets the most sun exposure – all day, in all seasons if possible. Yes, even if it means right in the middle of the front lawn, because… why not?! #growfoodnotlaws! Most vegetables prefer to get as much sun as possible, with a few exceptions.

Disclaimer: If you are removing grass to install raised beds or have problems with invasive weeds such as crabgrass, do not install your bed directly into the ground or grass without a good fabric weed barrier below first! Learn from our mistakes! If your space isn’t overgrown with weeds, you can line the bottom of your beds with cardboard. This will suppress the growth of less invasive weeds.

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If you have a small space or obstacles to work around, it’s okay to create some garden areas that end up in partial shade. We have a handful of beds that get a lot less sun than the others. Some are shaded by our house in the morning, or by neighboring trees in the afternoon, depending on the season. We can still use them to plant more shade-tolerant vegetables, such as lettuce, Asian greens, arugula or mustard, to name a few. If you live in a climate with extremely hot summers, your garden might just thank you for a little shade in the late afternoon!

If you live in an apartment and do container gardening, those same things still apply. One benefit of using shipping containers is that they can be more mobile, such as on rolling carts. This allows you to move them around as the seasons and sunlight change if needed! For indoor gardens, such as a bench or a windowsill herb garden, I suggest morning to midday sun. Be cautious and keep an eye on your plants if they are in hot afternoon sun, right next to a window. The amplified heat and intensity of the rays through the window can be too much for the plant to handle (especially if we’re talking herbs here). Using artificial lighting is another option for indoor gardens, but we’ll save that for a later post.

Try to take the time to observe your space in various seasons. Remember, the sun follows a different path and will be lower in the sky in winter. If you live in the northern hemisphere like we do, the sun sets lower on the southern horizon in winter.

This is especially important to consider if you are in a mild climate like ours and want a conservatory. However, if you live in the Arctic and plan to take the winter off and relax (rightly so!), the winter sun pattern isn’t as important.

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If you are in the northern hemisphere, a south facing garden is an ideal choice. This orientation will give your garden maximum southern exposure.

The front yard garden, circa spring 2016. I am facing north taking this photo, which means that most of the sun is coming from my direction (behind and above me) for most of the year. The garden is “south facing”.

The photo above is an example. We placed the raised front garden beds, intended for growing vegetables, at the north end of the yard to maximize exposure to the southern sun. In winter, the sun sets behind the house (behind me) to the south and casts a shadow on the yard closest to it. It would not have been wise to place our beds there. We’ve also kept taller features – those with the potential to cast shade like trees and trellises – in the far north, where the sun rarely lags behind.

Shown below is our coop garden area. When we first bought our house in 2013, it was the middle of summer. There was a piece of land in the backyard that was very nice and sunny – the perfect place for the raised beds that we dragged from our rented house, right?! Wrong.

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. Some greens were fine, but they grew very slowly and shot faster. Between the shaded location, the very low shallow beds (we prefer higher beds now) and the need for a better chicken proof fence, we were more than fine with reworking this site after a few years!

Our “cooperative garden” area, which we installed during the summer before we realized that these beds would have almost 100% winter shade from the fence. South is on the right.

The flowerbeds in this area are now on a south facing wall. Not only does this maximize sun exposure in all seasons, it also takes advantage of the radiant heat the wall emits. This extra warmth is most welcome in our climate, with our cool and hazy summers!

Our “co-op garden area” improved Feb 2017 ~ Now located along a south facing wall, deeper beds for plants and our back and better chicken proof fencing!

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The last important piece to consider when choosing your garden location is proximity to a water source. Is there a hose bib within a few hundred feet? Can a medium garden hose reach and be used to water the space? Are there pipes nearby that could be modified to add a faucet if needed, or to connect an automatic sprinkler system later if desired? While I often prefer watering by hand over using automated systems, you probably don’t want to carry heavy watering cans a long distance as your primary watering method. We’ll talk more about water in a moment.

When you’re just starting out, go for something small and sustainable, both in terms of the size of your garden and the variety of plants you try to grow. If you want to go big or go home then do it, by all means! But the last thing we want is for you to feel overwhelmed and like you’re “failing” from the start! I suggest building just one or two manageable raised beds, or experimenting with container gardening in grow bags or pots. We definitely started small.

If you can avoid setting up something too elaborate or permanent until you get your hands dirty for a season or two, then you’ve got what it takes.

To get a better idea of ​​your space, dream a little and better evaluate the size and landscape design you prefer in the long run. You never know what ideas you might come up with over time, like adding fruit trees or pollinator-friendly borders. Leave some room for growth and evolution! Trust me, we’ve changed, rearranged and slowly developed our garden spaces SO MANY times before we got to this point. It doesn’t happen overnight! Most of our spaces were done in phases over several years.

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Also related to size, I would suggest choosing just a few types of vegetables at first. I know this is easier said than done, because if you’re like me, you want to GROW ALL THINGS…now! Cold. You will get there!

Do you dream of having a nice, streamlined, dedicated area of ​​several raised beds all in a neat row? You want to plow the land and plant it right into the ground, creating something a little more

Or winding? Or, despite your wildest plant dreams, you are constrained by your current home or

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