As we head into summer, there’s plenty of time to turn over a patch of dirt in the backyard and sow your seeds. If you’ve never raised a garden before, don’t be intimidated. From windowsill gardening to indoor hydroponics systems, there are plenty of ways to grow your own produce. If you need a push in the right direction, here are a few of the best gardening methods for beginners.
Starting a garden doesn’t require several hundred acres of farmland. Container and windowsill gardening allows you to grow a few plants in a small space. Purchase a large pot and fill it with potting soil. Keep the soil two to three inches below the rim, so water doesn’t flow out. Water the soil before planting, then plant the seeds, sprouts, or partially grown plants. The best fruits and vegetables for container gardening include beans, tomatoes, leafy greens, squash, peppers, eggplants, and others. When you plant, put a few inches between the plants, so they aren’t competing for water and nutrients.
Good Soil Means Healthy Plants
If you prefer to start a garden on a small patch of land, check the soil first. You can get your soil professionally tested, but there are simpler ways to determine if the earth will bring a good yield. Simply by eyeballing it, you can tell if the soil is too dry or moist for gardening. And of course, seeing dead plant life—or no plant life—can indicate an unsuitable spot. Soil testing kits are available at gardening centers and can determine the pH levels of your soil, which indicates its acidity or baseness (a neutral measure of 7 is best) as well as the amount of nutrients already in it. Either way, it’s good to add compost to an area before planting.
Watering plants is, strangely enough, a skill to master. If they don’t get enough water, they dry up and die. But if you over-water them, it’s possible for them to drown. If you’ve chosen to grow things in a container, buy a self-watering system. If you prefer a backyard garden, make sure it’s near a faucet, and ensure the dirt can drain properly. Water early in the morning so the sun doesn’t evaporate it before the plants can drink it up. An inch a week is a good measure, but some plants need different amounts. Not sure if it’s time to water? Check the soil a few inches down. If it’s dry, douse it!
Fire and Frost
When thinking about the best gardening methods for beginners, keep your local climate in mind, and check the seed packets to see if the plants are suited for your zone. Zones range from cold to hot, so the hardier the plant, the lower temperatures it can survive. Also, keep the final frost dates in mind and plant afterward. Planting too soon can expose seedlings and sprouts to a sudden cold snap, killing them off before they get a chance to grow.