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Do you drive by people’s gardens and wish that you could grow those beautiful flowers or have a backyard vegetable garden but you’ve never so much as put your hands in potting soil? Don’t worry, with a few easy tips and tricks you too can learn how to plant a garden for the beginner gardener. The basics include soil prep, watering techniques and the hardest part is choosing what you want to plant.
Let’s start with the plants – do you want a flower or vegetable garden or a combination of both? For the beginner, it is easiest to buy transplants, or plants that were sowed at a plant farm and then are sold at your local nursery. If you want to try your hand at seeds, stick to those that are easy to grow like beans, squash, petunias, and even sunflowers. It’s good to also know the difference between what an annual or perennial plant is. In the most basic terms, an annual plant like violets will grow from seed, flower, produce seed of their own, and then die completely their life cycles in one full growing season. A perennial plant continues to grow year after year in your garden like roses.
Soil preparation is very important in growing anything in the garden. Depending on what area of the country you live in, you will have soil that is either more alkaline like in the Southwest or more acidic like in the Northeast. No matter what soil you have, it can always be made better by adding compost to it as this is the great leveler. I also recommend adding in earthworm castings and blood and bone meals for plant-ready fertilizers. Most plants will need additional fertilizers every 3-4 weeks during their growing season. These ones are my favorites and are all organic.
When watering your new garden always remember it is better to water long and slow than short and fast. If you are planting in a container, let the water come out the bottom drainage holes. If the plant has dried out, it could take you adding water, letting it soak in, and then adding more. A very dry plant won’t initially absorb the water and all of it will flow right out. If you let the water trickle on, it gives it time to soak in. In your garden, if you can, think of putting in an irrigation system so that the watering is consistent.
When choosing your plants make sure to note if they like full or partial sun or prefer the shade. Most sun-loving plants need at least 4-6 hours of sunlight daily to grow. Most full-sun plants can do 8-12 hours of sunlight but might need a shade cloth if it gets extremely hot in your area during the long summer days. If you pick out a shade plant and plant it in full sun, just know it won’t last long – so always make sure you read the tag that comes with the plant.
Lastly, all beginner gardeners should know what Zone they are in. The USDA has separated out the US into different growing zones. Check this chart to know exactly where you are and look for plants that grow best in your zone.
If you follow these tips and tricks, you can plant a garden even if you are a beginner gardener!