You’re here because you want to garden. You want to learn how to grow your own food and live a little bit more sustainable lifestyle. Well I got you! I’m going to help you get started with the basics to help you get going and to get you thinking! Before we begin I want to know that you don’t have to have a large backyard to garden. If you have a window you can garden. If you have a balcony you can garden. If you only have outside stairs you can garden. What I’m getting at is that no matter how small your space you can grow food. For the sake of time we will be discussing outdoor gardening but I want you to know anything is possible.
1. Get acquainted with your lighting situation. Weather your gardening indoors or out you need to know where you get the most sun for most of the day. Most vegetables and herbs love full sun. What’s full sun you say? Well full sun is 6+ hours of direct sun on the foliage every day. Now if your growing indoors you may not always have a full sun window but you can supplement your plants with a grow light or heck even a regular light bulb will do something. Or push the limits like me and see what you can get away with in less light. This also applies to your more shady areas outdoors.
2. Start small. Make a list of the vegetables you like to eat. Once you have that list narrow it down to the vegetables that would grow well with your light situation. Note that you can push the limits and grow vegetables in lower light and still get a good harvest, but all plants will perform better in the right conditions. Once you have your list now you need to do your research on each vegetable or herb to determine how much space and light each plant needs to thrive
3. Pick your spot or pot. Will you be growing in ground, in pots or in a raised bed or all three?
4. If you don’t have any already your going to need some tools to get started. There are so many tools on the market but to simply get planting all you need are a few things. I would start with the three below. I use a lot of Fiskars products because they last and are cost friendly.
5. Soils and fertilizers. Depending on how your growing your garden you will want to buy soil. If you are growing in pots or raised garden beds you will need to buy potting soil and compost. If your growing in ground using your native soil then adding compost will help give your garden a head start. Please note that you cannot use your native soil in pots or raised beds. You must use a garden soil \ Potting soil. Typically using soil from the ground is too dense and makes it difficult for potted plants to grow well. Using compost will help feed your garden vegetables over the course of the season. Its a slow feed meaning that it breaks down slowly and feeds your plants through out their life cycle. You can also buy a liquid fertilizer which is considered a quick feed meaning that the plants take up the nutrients right away. I recommend using fish emulsion to fertilize your garden. Its natural and doesn’t harm the plants should you over fertilize.
6. Now it’s time to make a big decision. Will you be starting your own seeds or buying vegetable starts. Vegetable starts are baby veggie plants that someone else has started from seed. If this is your first gardening year I would encourage you to buy starts because its easier but if you are determined you can absolutely start your own seeds. My suggestion to buy starts is because tending to seedlings can be a lot to handle . They require consistent lighting, moisture and some seedlings also require warmth. It is totally doable just do your research before jumping in head first.
7. Now that you are fully equipped with all of your tools and information its time to get planting! Remember to account for space, light and how you will water your garden. You can water with a watering can, hose or drip irrigation. Its all up to you!
8. Don’t forget to water and fertilize. You will have to base this off the needs of the perticular vegetables you are growing but in general you’ll want to water once a day to every other day depending on your climate. Then you will want to use a quick feed fertilizer weekly to help feed your plants and keep them happy.
9. Check on your garden as often as possible. If you can give your garden a once over every day that’s great! If it every few days that good too! You will want to stay on top of pruning and potential pest issues. It’s safe to say that every garden encounters some sort of pest obstacle but catching it early can save your crop.
10. Have fun! Gardening is not only about creating self sufficiency but also learning and experimenting. Every year that you garden you will learn more and more about the plants, soil and how to improve on them both.
Pretty soon you will be harvesting and enjoying the fruits of your labor. Gardening can be so rewarding and frustrating at the same time. You most definitely reap what you sow meaning the more effort and care you put into your garden the more harvests and joy you will find in it.