Starting a garden isn’t just a fun pastime for those with a green thumb - it’s also a great way to get back to nature and enjoy some time outside in the sun, but if you’ve never done it before, making a start can be a little intimidating. The good news is, with a few simple tips and tricks, you’ll be ready to help your plants thrive.
Plan the perfect space
There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all garden, which is why, if you’re going to make your efforts last long-term, it pays to have a plan. For the best results, you should choose plants for your garden by matching the climate in your area to the water requirements for each plant species, but that’s not the only thing you’ll need to consider. It’s also important to make sure that the garden space receives the right amount of sunlight for your chosen plants, so unless you plan to kill a few too many plants, don’t be tempted to skip over the planning stage!
Set up a compost system
Of all the things you can do for optimum plant and soil health, composting is one of the best - but a great compost heap doesn’t just happen overnight! It can take a long time for organic materials to break down to the point where their nutrients will be beneficial to your garden, so don’t deprive your garden of much-needed nutrients - start as early as you can, and use the compost at the correct time. There are so many things you can add to a compost mix, ranging from paper and cardboard to vegetable trimmings, tea bags, and pet waste - but don’t throw just anything onto the pile. Make sure to do your research and get up to speed on what you should (and shouldn’t) add to your compost heap.
Build garden beds
Not just for aesthetics and organisation, garden beds are also an important step in the process of raising healthy plants. Once your beds are in place, you’ll be able to give each of your plant species the exact conditions it needs to grow healthy, especially when two plant varieties are very different. For example, a bed full of carrots will need far less sun than leafy greens, and different amounts of water. Just in case you needed another reason to get building, garden beds will also prevent any compaction of the soil as you won’t be walking over it. Plant heaven!
Prime the soil
Without healthy soil, it’s going to be hard to grow anything in your garden, so don’t underestimate the importance of starting strong! When you’re growing a garden from scratch, it’s a good idea to test your soil with a store-bought kit. These kits will tell you what nutrients your soil is lacking and help you find some balance before planting. It’s also important to be mindful of compacting the soil, as this can prevent plants from getting much-needed nutrients, so consider investing in an aerator or using the compost you prepared earlier to fluff it up. Finally, when you do add the compost, remember to turn it under the top layer of soil so that the nutrients from the decomposed materials can be absorbed.
Get your timing right
Growing a productive garden is all about timing. Some seeds will only grow in certain weather conditions, which means you’ll need to think about seasonality when choosing plants. This is especially true if you’re planning to plant flowers, which can have vastly different growing times. Then, if you’re planning to have a productive garden all year round, you’ll need to plant seedlings that prefer different seasons. You’ll find plenty of resources online, like vegetable planting calendars, to help you master the art of timing it just right.
Add your plants
Now, for the exciting part! With healthy, nutrient-rich soil and a load of matured compost, you’re ready to start planting. As a beginner, you’ll probably get better results with mature plants than seedlings, and you’ll be able to enjoy the fruits of your labour much sooner. Plants that typically grow well from transplants include celery, eggplant, kale, and broccoli. Meanwhile, if you’re determined to grow something from scratch, you’ll have a good chance at success with beans, peas, pumpkins, or any number of hardy perennial flowers.
Growing a garden from scratch is a labour of love, but the benefits to your physical health, mental wellbeing, and home environment make it all worthwhile. With good pre-planning and a little bit of creativity, you can make something that is uniquely you. If you’re considering starting up a garden of your own for the first time, look no further than the tips discussed above - they’ll have your thumb looking greener in no time.