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Gardening Basics - Ya Dig?

It seems like just about everyone is giving home gardening a try. And frankly, with more time spent at home, it's a great way to channel creativity, burn a few extra calories, and ultimately end up with some home-grown deliciousness (hopefully!). If you're considering jumping on the bandwagon and trying your hand at a garden of your own, here are a few tips on how to get started.

tips for starting a home vegetable garden

Beginner Tips for Starting a Garden

First Things First

Get the right tools. If your mind immediately jumps to a shed jam-packed with tools to keep up with a garden, don't fret! In the case of garden tools, think quality over quantity. You really only need a few of the right tools to get your garden going and to keep it well maintained. You may even be surprised at what you already have on hand.

  • A good pair of gloves
  • Scissors
  • Shovel and/or spade
  • Pruner
  • Rake and/or hand rake
  • Gardening tote — while not necessary, it's nice to have all of your gardening tools in one handy tote that you can simply grab and take with you any time you visit the garden.
  • Garden hose or watering can — getting water into your garden is one additional element to consider, and while a hose is likely the most efficient option, a watering can will also work
tools for beginner gardeners

Choose the Best Location

Location, location, location! This couldn't be more accurate when it comes to picking the best spot to grow your garden. Your garden must get plenty of sun each day and while full sun all day is preferred for many plants, you should make sure that the garden has at least five hours of full sun a day. One way to maximize sun exposure is by structuring your garden from north to south, that way the plants don't end up creating shade for each other.

Other things to consider when picking a location. Look for:

  • Good drainage
  • Easy access to the garden for care & watering
  • No major root systems
  • Avoid areas that are overly accessible by wildlife (think rabbits, deer, groundhog or squirrels)

Start Small

It can be very tempting to jump all in when starting a garden. After all, how do you choose between fresh, crisp cucumbers or juicy watermelon? However, the best thing you can do is start small and over time add to your garden. Think of your first gardening season as a "learning opportunity" and if your garden produces anything, consider that a bonus! This garden will allow you to invest time in truly learning gardening basics without the time commitment that a large garden requires.

For your first garden consider using containers, a small raised bed, or a space no bigger than 10'x10'. This amount of space will give you plenty of room to grow a handful of yummy veggies (we suggest picking about five different kinds to start)!

beginner gardener basics

What to Plant

Two things should decide what type of veggies you plant. The first is easy, what are your favorite veggies to eat? Think about what vegetables you most often buy at the store and that is a great place to start. Once you have those figured out, the second thing you should do is to cross-check them with your region to make sure that the climate and growing season align.

Tons of information can be found online about your specific region's climate and growing season, but if you need further info we suggest visiting a local greenhouse or nursery to chat with a professional. They will be able to provide you with lots of hands-on advice along with tips and potential challenges known for your area.

Tip: most seed packets will have a diagram showing the optimal time to plant based on your area.

beginner vegetable garden

Plan the Layout

Planning the way your veggies will be planted when starting a small garden should be pretty easy! It's just one more plus to starting small — the larger your garden becomes the more time and effort it requires to make sure everything is planted in the most efficient way possible.

Based on the veggies that you plan to grow, you will want to consider things like how much space the plant may need to spread (up or out) or if it will need a form of support (like a tomato cage) to grow. These things will impact the way you should plant within your space.

As you expand your garden space there are many websites that help you plan and organize a well-thought-out garden to include elements like walkways and irrigation systems.

tips for beginner gardeners

Don't forget to enjoy!

Starting your first garden may take a bit of upfront work, but don't forget to enjoy the process! Gardening is a great way to spend time outdoors, release stress and you quite literally get to enjoy the fruits (or veggies) of your labor. Happy gardening!

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