I began a post about beginner gardening, but there was so much to talk about that I decided to make it into a series. Make sure to stick around for the next 3 weeks to get a new post every Friday from this series.
This week, we are going to go deep into where you should plan your garden.
There are many factors to take into consideration when planning a garden, and location is a big one. Choosing a good location for your garden means the difference between success and failure.
There are 5 things to consider when choosing the location for your garden.
Most garden vegetables do well in full sun. Atleast 6 hours of sun a day is optimal for the plants we are going to discuss. If you are able to choose from several locations, a southern exposure for sunlight will get you the most bang for your buck.
Soil is very important to a healthy, nutrient rich garden. You need to know what type of soil you have, so that you can enrich and water it correctly.
The optimal type of soil is dark and loamy. But if you don’t that kind of soil at the first, you can amend it. Basically, you will probably either have clay, sandy or loamy soil. If you have clay soil, you will need to add compost spring and fall, and since clay soil absorbs water very slowly you may not have to water as often. With sandy soil, you will need to add compost spring and fall, and may have to water more because the sand won’t absorb as much water. We won’t go into depth about that in this post, but composting can help you add the nutrients to your soil that you are missing.
If you are out in the country, or even a large backyard on the outskirts of town, you will need to be prepared for animals that will want to eat your yummy garden before you can enjoy your harvest. Where we live, we have deer, rabbits and other animals that come around regularly. You may need to build a fence to keep these critters out of your garden. If you have a dog that stays outside, that should help for protection as well.
Your garden will need to be watered every other day at minimum. This depends on your soil type, but basically you don’t want your soil to get too dry. Make sure you have a hose or some type of water source close by your chosen location for easier access.
Proximity to House
When you are just starting out with your garden, you want to make sure that it is fairly close to your home. This will make it easier to check on each day and will help you not to forget. This will also deter critters from visiting as much if you are nearby.
Once you pick your location, you need to decide what kind of plot you are going to have.
There are usually 3 methods to garden planting:
This type of garden involves building a box to put your dirt and plants in. You can make these beds out of wood, metal or basically anything you have laying around that will work.
The best way to fill your beds is with the lasagna method: first, cardboard on the bottom; next, a layer of compost; and then fill the rest with dirt but not all the way to the top. It is good to water the layers in between, before you plant.
Pros of Raised Beds:
It makes the garden look neat and organized. You will have a path in between the boxes to sit or kneel for weeding.
If you don’t have good soil to start with, you can bring in good soil right off the bat.
It is easier for weeding because you don’t have to bend over as far.
Cons of Raised Beds:
The biggest con is the cost. Your first year of building and filling the beds will be more expensive. After the first year, you can amend the soil with your own compost and keep the boxes looking nice with minimal cost.
This is the traditional garden you see with long rows over a large area. In order to use this method, you need to till the ground in rows with space in between for foot path. You may want to put rebar or something else on the end of the rows to catch the water hose if that is how you are watering. Otherwise, the hose might damage your plants.
Pros of Row Gardening:
It is fairly inexpensive to start. You can rent or borrow a tiller, or maybe use a shovel if you are doing a small area.
It is easy to line up a string or rope from one end to the other and plant down the middle for straight rows.
It looks neat and tidy with rows all in order.
Cons of Row Gardening:
If your soil isn’t good to start with, it may take more time and cost to amend it.
There is a lot of wasted space between the rows. Therefore, if you only have a small area to work with, this method may not be the best for you.
Weeding is more difficult because you have to bend over all the way. Also there may be more weeds because tilling turns up weeds that were already in the ground.
Container gardening is just what it sounds like. Using various pots or containers to grow plants around the house. Basically, you find a container, fill it with compost or potting soil and put a plant in it. Make sure that you have a container that is deep enough for a plant with deep roots. Also, remember to put plants in a location where you will remember to water them as needed.
Pros of Container Gardening:
It doesn’t take up much space, so if you only have a deck or small yard it can add more growing space.
You can recycle pots or find other containers like buckets or barrels to use instead.
If you have a plant that likes to spread, like mint, you can keep it contained so it doesn’t overtake your other plants.
You can move the containers if necessary to get more sunlight.
Cons of Container Gardening:
You need to pay attention to your plants to see if they are getting the proper amount of water needed to thrive. The container you choose needs to have proper drainage so the plants won’t get water logged.
You won’t be able to grow as many plants as you would with the other methods.
Cost could be an issue depending on what containers you choose and what you chose to fill them with.
A Mix of All Three
On our homestead, we use a mix of all of these methods to maximize production. As you can see in this garden design, we have raised beds for a large majority of our plants. We use row gardening for corn, sunflowers and pumpkins so they have a little more room. We also use mason jars for our herbs to keep them contained and close by the house. I would recommend you pick one method to start with and really learn that method. Then you can change methods or add one, depending on how you garden turns out, for the next year.
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Beginner Gardening Worksheet PDF
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Next week we will discuss how to choose what to plant.
Don’t forget to follow our beginning garden series until the end. There will be one new post to the series each Friday for 4 weeks.
Beginner Gardening Series #1: Planning Your Location
Do you have any beginner tips or questions? Please leave them in the comments below. Thanks!