Beginners Guide to Starting A Home Garden
This simple guide to starting a home garden echoes what boy scouts have been saying for years: “Be Prepared!” There should be no such thing as a spontaneous spud or a random radish. Before you read more, you need to do some preparing. Your preparation starts with choosing the right site.
Choosing a site:
To start a home garden in any old spot is a gamble because there are several important factors to consider, regardless of whether you’re digging into an existing medium, or constructing a kit set garden.
One of the biggest factors is sunlight. Most vegetable and flower gardens require around six hours of sunlight a day, while a heavily shaded area will limit what you can grow in that space. Monitor your preferred site over the course of a day, and if there isn’t enough sun or too much shade, consider another site.
The suitability of the growing medium is also critical. Sun and soil should go together like peas and carrots, but it might be stretching it to expect perfect soil in a perfectly sunny spot. Great soil should be nutrient-rich, and soft and loamy enough for roots to extend through it. Bring in new soil if required, or boost the existing soil’s fertility by adding nutrients like sheep pellets, compost, or a bagged mix from the garden centre.
Other practical considerations include ease of access for harvesting your (bumper) crop, and a suitable irrigation source – sometimes known as a tap. If there’s no tap nearby, you’ll need a long hose or an irrigation system to hook up to a water source elsewhere.
Getting ready to plant
You may have found the best site for your home garden, but you’re still only partially prepared. Before you sow, compile a list of starting crops that will best suit the soil and sunniness of your home garden. Some of the easier crops to grow include lettuce, cabbage, leeks, silver beet, spinach and, in news sure to please the kids, broccoli.
You’ll also need tools for tilling, weeding, pruning, and harvesting. Check the irrigation is in place, order in some organic or conventional fertilizer, and invest in decent pest protection. Plus, if you’re planting climbing crops like peas, tomatoes or broad beans, you’ll eventually need some plant supports.
Finally! You have permission to plant. The best time to do it is early morning or evening, to avoid the harsh sun. Just before you sow, dig in extra nutrients to make the soil even more accommodating.
If you’re planting seeds, follow the instructions on the packet, for depth, spacing and watering details. Be aware of frost sensitivity – a mulch might be required to protect against frost. Finally, give the garden a gentle water immediately after planting.
Maintaining your garden
Congratulations! You now have a perfectly prepared and planted garden. Help it stay in top health by keeping the soil moist. The best times to water is morning or evening: this will limit evaporation. Fertilize and weed frequently, and look out for signs of pests.
Planning and Preparation are the big Ps when starting your home garden. Not as tasty as baby peas, or as fragrant as sweet peas, but very important Ps none the less. Some maintenance after you’ve planted is also required. But once you’ve tasted your garden-fresh produce, or laid eyes on the spectacular blooms you’ve lovingly tended to, you’ll discover that the reward far outweighs the effort.