Growing a garden seem like it should be a simple endeavor. However, as a beginning gardener, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. While learning all the tricks to growing a thriving garden takes time, the three main factors that will spell success or failure are the amount of sunlight the garden receives, the amount of nutrients available for the plants to pull from the ground and the amount of available water.
Here is a breakdown of the three most important tips for beginner gardeners:
Choose the Right Spot
Selecting the right spot to plant your garden is crucial and picking a bad spot is perhaps the most common mistake of many beginning gardeners. Because plants convert the energy from light to make their own food, the garden site must be exposed to direct sun most, if not all, of the day. This is because most edible plants require a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight a day.
Decide how big you want your garden to be and then mark off a few areas in your yard with stakes and string. Check the spots every two hours to see if trees, buildings or any other objects are casting a shadow on the site as the sun moves across the sky. Additionally, as out of sight tends to be out of mind, try to pick a spot where your garden will be visible to help remind you to tend it.
Finally, be sure the garden site drains well. While a well-watered garden will thrive, too much standing water will rot the roots of plants. A simple perk test can be done by digging an 18-inch deep by six-inch diameter hole.
Fill the empty hole with water, let it drain completely and refill it. If the hole drains the second time in less than 24 hours, then the site has adequate drainage. If not, you should consider a different site or a raised-bed garden.
Am mend the Soil
While plants get their energy from the sun, plants pulls nutrients from the soil. Once you have selected a sight that receives plenty of sunshine, you should have a soil analysis done that will cost just a few dollars. While even many experienced gardeners don’t bother with this step, knowing the condition of the dirt your plants will grow in is a very simple and extremely important consideration for success.
Dig one small shovel full of dirt from at least three different spots of the garden site and place all the dirt in a bucket. Mix the dirt up well and then fill a sandwich-size bag with the mixture. Drop off the sample to your county or state-university extension office, with the fee, and they will mail you back a detailed analysis of your garden soil.
The analysis will have a breakdown of all the nutrients the soil has and what it is deficient in. Use a rototiller to loosen the soil to an eight-inch depth. Add the necessary nutrients to the soil and use the rototiller to incorporate the amendments into the dirt.
Adequate water is even more important to life than food. Plants will begin to wither in as little as two days without water. Ideally, the garden should be watered every day. This can be done with a garden sprinkler, a soaking hose or by hand. While you can tell if the soil is moist enough by sticking a finger an inch down in the dirt, plants thrive best when their leaves directly receive water on a daily bases.
Becoming a master gardener takes years of practice and dedication. While your education in gardening will continually evolve, even a novice can grow a successful garden just by keeping theses tips for beginning gardeners in mind. Click here to learn how you can make gardening fun.