Gardening is so much fun and rewarding if you can manage to do it right. Moreover, the best thing about gardening, it is not as complex as you think. Imagine how you could feel eating a freshly prepared salad that has been picked straight from your garden. So, start gardening.
The best part about gardening is you do not need a significant amount of space. These days you can use container gardens to grow your food in limited space.
I am an absolute beginner in gardening – where do I start? Here are some tips to help you start gardening
Tip 1- Have a plan before you start gardening
Gardening is like more or less starting a business. You must have a clear idea and a proper plan of how you will go about it before you can think of putting any penny or effort.
The first task before you start gardening is knowing exactly what type crops you are going to grow whether vegetables, herbs or flowers. Choosing the right crop will make gardening to be so much fun and will also help you save money you would otherwise have spent in the grocery store.
The best way to choose the right crop for is looking for a veg or a fruit that you or your family really love eating and would be more than willing to grow on the farm. After that, you need to check whether the crop you have chosen can comfortably grow in your region and the season you want to plant.
Tip 2- Choosing a suitable location for your garden
Before beginning, Your garden should be in a place that receives sunlight for about 6 hours a day to allow for photosynthesis. The only way to figure this out is by doing an hourly observation of the garden for a whole day and recording the number of hours the sun has shone on it.
If the observation result is about 5 to 6 hours, then you can go ahead and start preparing it for planting.
If the observation is less than 5 hours, then you need to move on and look for another place or plant crops such as beets, salad leaves, broccoli and Brussels sprouts which do not require so much of sunshine.
Some other crops can also manage to adapt to 4 hours of sunshine and still do well but plant them only when you do not have another option.
Tip 3 – Keep in sight
“Out of sight out of mind” which often equals a neglected garden. Make sure your garden is in a place you can see more often as it will always remind you to visit it. A good example is outside your favorite window or right next to your back door.
Tip – 4 – Garden Preparation before you start gardening
Once you have arranged a suitable place to set up your garden, the next step is deciding the size of your garden and then getting down to work…..hard digging!
You might need to invest in some tools here if you do not have any in your store.
Clear every single plant on the ground, remove every root you can manage to remove and then rake the soil until it is level and soft.
Make sure your garden is free from any weed but do not use any chemical to do it.
I would recommend you use raised garden beds if you are a beginner or a small scale farmer since they are super easy to work with.
Raised gardening beds also protect your veggies from weeds and help in preventing soil compaction.
When preparing raised beds, make sure they are narrow enough to allow you work on the crops that are at the center comfortably.
The recommended size is 4 feet wide, 8-12 feet long and about 12 inches high.
Tip 5 – Improving the soil
Before you do anything else, you must realize that your garden soil alone cannot feed your crops with the nutrients they need.
If you want to have reliable, healthy crops, you have to invest in your soil.
One method that you can use to boost the condition of your soil massively is by adding organic matter. It is a beneficial method and way much cheaper than using fertilizers. It is free and in plenty.
Gather organic materials such as animal waste, compost manure, dry grass clippings and leaves, mix them thoroughly with the soil and then wait for them to decompose before planting.
You can also use a more advanced method which is taking your soil for a lab test in the agricultural extension near you.
Soil tests will enable you to know the nutrients that are missing in your soil and also get advice on how you can add them.
A small piece of advice, try to use organic methods as much as possible as it will keep you and your family safe from deadly chemicals that have been linked to diseases such as cancer, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and reproductive dysfunctions among many others.
Tip – 6 Planting
It is now time to give life to your new garden- planting!
The general rule of planting is, “always plant hardy greens just a few weeks before the final frost.”
However, this planting rule does not apply to all crops. It is always advisable to research the best time for planting the vegetables you have in mind before doing it to give your seedlings the best chances of surviving. You can also use a planting calendar calculator.
Also, if you are the aggressive type of gardener, you can start planting your seeds indoors a few weeks before time as all you will just need to do is transplant them once the garden is ready.
It is an excellent method you can use if you want an early harvest. Be careful though when choosing method, some crops especially root crops hate being transplanted.
Once you finish planting your seeds or seedlings, water them more frequently for 3-4 weeks but avoid flooding the garden. Overwatering makes the seeds and seedlings’ roots rot causing the crops to dry.
Tip 7 – Nurturing your crops
Your crops will always need you to be there for them especially when young.
A small piece of advice, if you are not ready to spend time in the garden, you better not get started at all as it will be just a waste of time and resources.
You need to visit your garden as many times as possible to observe how your crops are growing and the condition of the soil. It will help you in identifying problems such as diseases or pests early enough before they cause any significant damage to your crops.
It is also fun watching your crops as they graduate from one stage to another.
Tip 8 – Recordkeeping
The last tip, but an important step in your gardening journey is record keeping.
For example, if you own a car, you probably keep records of when you changed oil last, spares among others. You are supposed to do the same for your garden.
You need to keep records of when you planted, the type of fertilizers you applied and when you applied and also record all previous harvests.
This tracking will go a long way in helping you to plan the future of your garden and also identify changes in amount harvests for different periods.
Do not wait, start gardening.
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