Planting a garden can be a bit daunting to those who have never done it. However, once you understand the ins and outs, it can become a favorite pastime. Many people enjoy gardening, because it is relaxing; but it can rewarding, too. Especially when it comes time to harvest.
What soil is best?
The type of soil for your garden is critical. Chop up and remove all grass and weeds, making sure you pull out rocks and sticks. A type of soil, called Loamy soil, is what you want. It is a combination of sandy soil, which is loose and dry, and clay soil, which is nutrient rich but heavy and dense. If you think you have sandy or clay soil, take a sample to our local garden center and ask what you should add to it for loam. For most garden beds, be sure to dig down six to eight inches into the soil so that the earth is nice and loose. You can work additives into the soil, such as manure, peat moss, and, if you have it, compost. These enrich the soil and prepare it for planting, and all are sold at garden centers. Make sure you pull out any weeds, rocks, and sticks from the compost.
You will want to make sure you place your garden where there is plenty of sunlight. If your garden gets at least six hours of full sun every day, you can plant vegetables and flowers requiring full sun. If you get sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon, buy plants that do well in half, or partial, shade.
What to Plant
Flowers are a bit tricky. They fall into two general categories: annuals and perennials. Annuals last only for the season, while perennials come back season after season, going dormant during the freezing winter and then poking up in the spring. Biennials last for two seasons. Annuals bloom all summer and perennials have shorter blooming seasons. Annuals, which include petunias, impatiens, begonias, and marigolds, require more water than perennials. Plant flowers with enough room between them to spread. They will, as the summer progresses.
Vegetables are a different story. Most veggies need good sun and plenty of room to grow. If you plant flowers and herbs around the edges of the vegetable patch, the garden will be prettier and some flowers even keep some pests away. Keep in mind that some veggies don't grow well together. You can check it out here.
Watering is important
All gardens need water. Unless you live in the dessert or rain forest, your garden will need about an inch of water a week during the growing season. Water the garden at least three times a week, giving it a good soak. Water in the cool parts of the day, such as the morning and evening. When the sun is hottest, the water evaporates quickly and does your garden very little good.
Why should we mulch?
Every good gardener knows the value of mulch. Mulch holds in moisture and inhibits weed growth. You can buy mulch, usually as wood chips, or make your own from grass clippings and leaf litter. Most gardeners use the former when the garden is active and the latter during the cold, dormant months of winter. Once the garden is planted, spread mulch so that it’s an inch or two deep. Take care not to mulch up against plant stems but leave some air around them so they don’t rot.
If this is your first garden, I suggest you start small; you can always expand later in the summer or next spring. Be sure to pull weeds when you see them, taking care not to put the plants out by mistake. We all learn from experience, so don’t beat yourself up of your garden doesn’t take off this year because you can always try again next year.