How to Start a Home Garden

Updated August 2nd, 2022
How to Start a Home Garden

Starting a home garden sounds enticing. Who wouldn’t want easy access to healthy veggies and fruits straight from the garden or beautiful flowers cut fresh for a centerpiece? Gardeners seem to know all the secrets, but for those who aren’t naturally blessed with a greenthumb, starting a garden may be overwhelming. What should you plant and where? What will you need to get started? These tips will help you feel confident in starting your own home garden, and you will be growing your own food, herbs, and flowers in no time!

growing broccoli in home garden

Learn from Experts

When starting your home garden, you are sure to have questions. Before you start anything, look for growing guides on the Internet and at your local library and bookstore. Set yourself up for success by following plant-specific advice from professionals, like this guide on how to grow broccoli. Articles from experts like this can give tailored information such as how much water, sunlight, or fertilizer a plant needs, as well as troubleshooting for any problems you may encounter.

vegetables to grow in home garden

Decide Which Plants You Want to Grow

If you are planning on eating from your garden, of course you will want to plant fruits and veggies that you and your family will eat. Tomatoes are fairly easy to grow anywhere, but if you have picky eaters, you will end up with an abundance of tomatoes that no kid will touch. Consider how much of your fruits and veggies your family will consume, and make a plan to use the excess. Canning and pickling are great ways to preserve food for later consumption.

Some plants take up a lot of space horizontally–that is the row spacing required for proper growth. Consider plants that grow vertically, especially if space is limited. Sunflowers, beans, tomatoes, and corn are all vertically growing plants that create beautiful gardens by themselves or as a nice outward border for your garden area.

In small spaces like window planters, herbs are a great choice. Cilantro, basil, oregano, and dill are some of the most popular herbs used in a variety of dishes. Additionally, herbs can be dried out and stored for later use.

home grown herbs

Choose a Gardening Space

As you’re deciding what plants you’d like to grow, you’ll have to keep in mind the space you have available. If you have access to land (i.e. your backyard), you will have more space to plant what you choose. You can plant a traditional garden or choose to purchase or construct raised beds. Those who live in an urban area or apartments can still create a garden using raised beds or containers. However, the type of plants you will be able to successfully grow will be limited. Some areas have community gardens where you can rent a space.

Most importantly, a garden space will need plenty of sunlight. Choose a spot that gets 6-8 hours of direct sunlight. Some plants do well in shady areas, called “partial sun” or “partial shade,” but even those plants require at least 6 hours of sunlight. The better you understand your chosen plants’ needs, the more guidance you’ll have on where to construct your garden.

Ideally, your garden should be located near an easily accessible water source. Daily watering is much easier if you are close to an outdoor water spigot. Even if you are only planting a small garden, new gardeners can easily get burnt out when watering becomes burdensome. Investing in a good watering can, hose, and sprayer will prove to be beneficial. You may also consider setting up a sprinkler to run automatically.

Additionally, you will need to examine the existing soil consistency. Rocky or clay-like soils will be difficult to work with. The ideal soil will be loamy: a good mix of sand and silt with small amounts of clay. Contact your local university to see if they will test your soil for you. A soil test can give you useful information on its composition and pH levels. Alternatively, you can purchase a soil test kit at most home improvement stores. Consider starting a home compost bin to have easy access to organic matter to enhance your soil.

home garden tools

Gather Tools & Materials

After selecting your gardening space and the types of plants you will grow, the next step is to gather the necessary tools and materials. If you are planting in the ground, you will need a spade, a shovel, a hoe, and a tiller. Tools can be expensive, so consider looking for second-hand options you find at a yard sale or thrift store. Depending on your soil quality, you may also need to purchase soil enhancers.

If you are using containers to plant, you will still need a shovel, but you can use a smaller, less-expensive one. When choosing a container, look for one that offers good drainage to prevent root rot. Additionally, you will need a hose, sprayer nozzle, watering can, and gloves.

hands in soil

Start Planting

Once you have your materials, you are ready to plant! Do your research or check the Farmer’s Almanac to determine the best time of year to plant your specific fruit, vegetable, flower, or herb.

Some vegetables and flowers are planted via direct sowing. Direct sowing occurs when you sow the seeds directly in the ground. Seed packets often contain instructions on direct sowing depth and timing. Typically, direct sowing should be done eight to ten weeks before the last frost.

Alternatively, you can use seed trays or small pots to start your seeds growing indoors and transplant to the ground after the seeds sprout and a root system forms. This is ideal in areas where colder temperatures persist late into spring.

Depending on which plants you choose, row spacing is an important consideration. With many flowers, seeds are scattered in the soil. Once they sprout, you may need to thin the area so that plants have room to thrive. Other plants require a planned row space. Vegetables and fruits such as cauliflower, lettuce, broccoli, watermelon, and pumpkin require larger areas from 12 to 36 inches between each plant, while smaller plants like beets, carrots, radishes, and onions only require 3 to 4 inches row spacing.

man gardening

Create and Follow a Maintenance Schedule

Once your seeds are sown, you will need to create a maintenance schedule. Set reminders on your phone or calendar for watering your garden. Check the pH level of your soil regularly and adjust accordingly. If you are supplementing your soil with plant food or other enhancers, keep on track with the scheduled maintenance. Periodically check vines and install support structures, such as loosely tied tobacco sticks loosely or a trellis. Pull weeds and check for damage by insects or animals. Research the best harvest times for your particular plants, and then enjoy the benefits of your home garden!

radishes from home garden

In Conclusion

Gardening is a challenging, but rewarding hobby. Expect a few setbacks along the way, but keep practicing and continue to do your research as your garden grows. Once you start to reap the benefits of having fresh herbs, flowers, and fruits and veggies at your fingertips, you will be glad to have started this new endeavor. With a little patience and some trial and error, you will be on your way to becoming an expert gardener!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *