The Beginner's Guide to Outdoor Gardening

The Beginner's Guide to Outdoor Gardening

0 Comments

 

If you are just starting out on your gardening journey, you need to decide on a few things first: such as the types of food or vegetables you want to grow, and the amount of time you can devote to getting your hands dirty. Once you have established these, you can then choose the gardening type of gardening that aligns with your energy, finances, and growing space.  

Getting started

Grow Food - home gardening

It’s easy to flip out when there’s a jillion things you’re worried about as you start your gardening journey. But according to SparkPeople[1], you’d only need to start with five basic steps to get you going in the right direction:

Step 1: Choose your location & method

Whether you’d like to grow your food in your own backyard or a community garden, choosing the right location is important to the success of this endeavor. You can also choose to grow your garden in small spaces to adapt to your lifestyle.

You may opt to do one of the following methods to grow your crops:

  • Traditional garden or in-ground garden
  • Container garden, perfect for city-dwellers living in condominiums or apartments
  • Raised bed garden, the happy medium between the first two methods

Step 2: Gather your gear

  • Gardening implements - such as trowel, watering can or hose, shovel, rake, and shears - although these will also depend on what you actually need for your garden
  • Safety gear such as sun hat and gardening gloves - optional but the use of which would be much better for your health
  • Seeds and seedlings

Step 3: Prepare your soil

What’s the point of gardening if the foundation (aka your soil) is not of good quality? Here’s what you should look for to detect good soil according to the Soil Health Training Manual:

  • Good soil tilth
  • Sufficient depth
  • Sufficient, but not excessive, nutrient supply
  • Small population of plant pathogens and insect pests
  • Good soil drainage
  • Large population of beneficial organisms
  • Low weed pressure
  • No chemicals or toxins that may harm the crop
  • Resilience to degradation and unfavorable conditions

Step 4: Decide which plants to grow

Judging which plants are worth your effort can be confusing, it can range from which crops you’d like to have on hand all the time to which are in season. No worries, we’re here to help you out remember? So here’s the list of easiest and top homegrown crops to get you started[2]:

  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Herbs
  • Beans
  • Salad greens

Step 5: Plan it out

You’re all set! Now comes the fun part: planting! Here are some helpful tips to make your gardening journey worth your time and effort:

  • Create a plan. Research on your plants first before you decide to grow them (again, you can also check our plant list here). Some plants need more sunlight and space than others. Creating a plan gives you a quick overview of what to expect.
  • Calendar your activities. Some crops grow better in certain seasons. Be sure to consider your planting schedule.
  • Be patient. All good things take time, right? Growing crops are in the same page. Patience will also come in handy with all the weeding, pruning and tidying up in your garden.
  • Label. Since plants take forever to sprout or grow out completely, it’s best to label them for quicker identification. 

 

Start growing food

Now that you’ve got the basics, let’s move on to the dirty work.

Select your area.

  • Face the sun. Locate the sunniest part of your yard as most vegetables would need 8-12 hours worth of full sunlight to produce. Morning sunlight is usually better.
  • Get close to water. Watering is a must for gardening so make sure you have water supply close by.
  • Check drainage. Select an area with good drainage system (does not flood easy). If a good drainage is not available, opt to plant in raised beds instead.
  • Inspect your soil. Choose a spot with rich soil free from rocks and roots for easy tilling.

Build your beds.

  • Choose a garden type. Depending on your preference and lifestyle, you may choose to create one of the four garden types. Here’s a quick crash course.
  • Give ‘em some space. Having decided on what to grow, research on how much spacing your crops would need to grow. Different crops need different amounts of space. Also, factor in some walking space so you won’t need to step on beds to maintain your garden.
  • Seal and mark. You may choose to enclose your garden in DIY fences. This will also be good to discourage small critters from entering your garden. While you’re at it, mark each bed with the names of produce you plan to grow there for easy identification.

Ready, set, plant!

  • Choose your seeds. Still unsure about what to grow? Perhaps start with the crops that make up your favorite salad. Make a list before you visit your local nursery store and buy seeds suitable for your area and climate.
  • Plant ‘em. Here’s the fun part. Start by digging a small hole with your spade, add fertilizer, drop the seed inside and cover with topsoil.
  • Get them in order. You know in grade school when you fall in line and all those big kids stay in the back? That idea should stick with you through your gardening journey. Place tall vining plants at the back followed by larger vegetables in the middle and have your small crops in front. This makes for easy navigation.
  • Rotate your crops. To discourage pests and increase nutrition in your soil, try rotating where you plant your crops or what you plant every year.

Maintenance

  • Water. While the vegetables take root, the topsoil must stay moist. Mist with water whenever the topsoil becomes dry, but avoid doing this at nighttime.
  • Weed as needed. You wouldn’t like your crops getting some competition on the nutrients, would you?
  • Mulch. Used to retain moisture in the soil and contain weeds, mulch is one of the best things you can do while growing your garden.
  • Fertilizer. If you haven’t already sprinkled some fertilizer in your soil bed beforehand, do some supplementary feeding and give your plants some love. You may also choose to works some compost or organic matter to your soil each year to make it more nourished.

Harvest

Congratulations, you made it to harvest period! Time to celebrate! Remember to pick the ripe ones first and let the other continue to grow before picking them. Here’s a quick overview on when to harvest your crops to help you out.

Have you started growing food? Share your journey with us on our  #GrowFood campaign page!

 

Resources:

  1. http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=1292
  2. http://www.besthealthmag.ca/best-you/green-living/the-5-best-foods-to-grow-at-home/