A Beginner's Guide to Starting a Garden

This post is for the home-gardener wanting to plant a small garden; not for plowed fields.

Starting a garden is both simple and complicated all at the same time. It is simple because you do not need much to get started; and it is complicated because a lot can go wrong – even when you do everything right.

Home Garden

Decisions to make when starting your home-garden

1. Decide what type of container(s) you want to use

Some common options (in order of my preference) include:

  • Raised beds
  • Grow-boxes
  • Gardening pots

The first year I home gardened, I used regular garden pots like the ones pictured below. I did get some produce from my plants but there was not enough room for everything I wanted to grow.

Small Garden Pots

So, the next year, I bought a couple of grow boxes like the ones pictured below. These are awesome and I highly recommend them for small spaces. These boxes allowed me to grow more plants and because of the design, they were were easier to maintain and did not require as much water.

Garden Grow Boxes

Finally, I went to raised beds. I started with a small raised bed kit like the one pictured below and over the years, added on to it. This allowed me to grow more plants and thus get more produce.

Raised Bed Garden Kit
Home Garden
My Raised Bed Garden

2. Decide on how to start your garden plants

Some common options include:

  • Starting from seed
  • Buying seedlings
Starting from Seed
Buying seedlings

Having done both, for first time gardeners I recommend buying seedlings. Starting from seed takes time and requires a plan. Even when you do everything right, you sometimes find yourself still having to fill the garden with store-bought seedlings.

This year, I am growing my garden from seed.

New Seedling

3.¬† Let’s talk dirt!

If you have decided to grow your garden in pots or boxes, you will need to make sure to buy Potting Soil for vegetables like the product pictured below.

Organic Potting Mix

If you decide to grow in raised beds like I do, you will need to buy Garden Soil. My husband and I use a mix of Top Soil (Garden Magic) and Sweet Peet (for organic nutrient) from our local garden supply store. These two are spread in layers in our raised beds.

Garden Magic Sweet Peet
Top Soil (Garden Magic) and Sweet Peet

Since we have had a raised bed garden for a few years, our soil level has dropped. We also need to make sure our soil contains the necessary nutrients. This year, we turned the soil over, added more Top Soil and Sweet Peet and leveled it out so that it is ready for planting in a few weeks.

Garden Soil
Adding in new Soil and Sweet Peet

4. Decide when to transplant outside

Your geographic location (i.e., Planting Zone) will determine the appropriate time to transplant your seedlings outside. There are many resources available online to assist you with this. In the past, I have used this site and found it to be very useful.

If you decided to try your hand at starting from seed, there are a lot more details to consider and these details are not covered in this post. If you do have questions though, contact us and we will do our best to answer. For the sake of this post, let’s assume you are using store-bought seedlings. In most cases, these are ready to be transplanted directly into your designated container – so let’s get planting!

Store Bought Seedlings
Store-bought seedlings

To plant your seedlings, follow the instructions – for distance and depth – that came on the label with the seedlings.

Store Bought Seedlings Instructions

Those seedlings may look tiny now but in a few weeks, you will be surprised at how much room they take up. In my experience, the more room you give your plants, the better, so give them plenty of room to grow.

Garden in Full Bloom
Tomatoes from the Home Garden
Harvested tomatoes
Green Peppers from Home Garden
Green pepper, ready for harvesting

Happy gardening!

Do you have any gardening tips or questions? Feel free to share in the comments!

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