Posted on 11th Jan 2019
By: Sydney Bishop, RDN, LDN
Imagine the ability to walk into your backyard each afternoon before dinner to pluck vegetables from a thriving garden. One day, you may harvest zucchini and yellow squash for a vegetable medley to pair with a juicy chicken breast. The next day, you may decide to use a few beautiful red and green bell peppers for a stuffed pepper recipe you have been dying to try. The options are endless! But, many of you may be thinking, "I really want to grow my own food, but where would I even begin?" Luckily, we have the answer! Here are 5 simple steps to get you started growing your very own garden, today!
There are many options to consider when planning out your garden. It is important to decide which type of garden will best serve your needs. Will you choose to plant straight into the ground using a row design? Will you use large pots due to a lack of space? Will you opt for raised beds that you can easily manipulate and move to a new location in the coming years? You may even choose to use a combination of all three methods. The design of your garden may affect the location and variety of plants you decide to grow. Also, pay attention to the amount of space needed to cultivate each type of plant. Some may require more room to flourish versus others. Lastly, be sure to research the best time to begin your garden for each growing season depending on the area that you live in.
Reflect on the space you will use to grow your garden. Does the area receive adequate sunlight? Will you be able to easily water your plants? What is the ground like in the area (soil, clay, etc.) and what steps will need to be taken in order to prepare the soil? Is the area large enough for all of the vegetables you plan to grow?
If you decide to place your plants straight into the ground, make sure to till the soil and account for enough space to walk in between each row. If you plan to use raised beds, you will need to purchase and/or transplant soil into the beds. Plan to saturate the soil with water at least two days prior to transferring your plants into the raised beds. You can purchase soil at any garden or feed store. You may also want to consider building a small fence around your garden to keep out unwanted animals, such as deer, rabbits, etc.
You can either start your plants from seeds or purchase them from a local garden or feed store, nursery or plant sale. For your first year of gardening, you may want to experiment with both methods and decide which is best for you based on your experience. Starting from seeds requires additional planning, however, it is often cheaper and rewarding to see the full transformation from seed to harvest.
Keeping a record of each growing season is the best way to learn from your mistakes and help cultivate a more successful garden moving forward.
Whether you are growing a garden by yourself or with others, it is important to remember to have fun! Gardening is a great way to relax and humble yourself to nature and the simplicity of producing your own food. Not every growing season will be perfect, but half the fun is learning from your mistakes and improving throughout the years. Remember to tend to your plants and give them the attention they need to flourish. Without adequate amounts of water and sunlight, your plants will have a difficult time producing and as a result, you may find yourself discouraged and ready to give up. But, if you persevere and make an effort to learn from your mistakes, you will find that gardening can be very rewarding and exciting, as is providing fresh and sustainable food for yourself and your family.
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