Starting a garden is a simple way of introducing more fruits and vegetables into your diet. When you have produce being grown in your own backyard, you will find creative ways to use up the products of your labor. Along with the added benefits of healthier eating, gardens are a great way to add exercise to your daily life. If you are ready to get started on healthier living by planting a vegetable garden, then here are some simple guidelines you may follow.Credit: By User:Vmenkov (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
- The first course of action in gardening is to decide where you will plant your vegetables. Plotting the best location for your is key in the success of growing viable plants. Not all plants grow in the same conditions, so you might consider planting in several spots throughout your yard.
- Soil conditions- for plants to have the best chance of producing, soil conditions need to be the best. Look for an area that is not susceptible to flooding or standing water. Plants need well drained soil that will not drown the roots.
- Sun exposure- wherever you are considering putting your garden, keep track of the amount of sun the area receives. In a notebook, make a list of the areas of your yard that you are considering and write down how many hours of sun the location receives. Make a note of whether the plot receives morning or evening sun. These notes will help you when choosing where to place your vegetables for optimum growing.
- Water source- it is important to remember that the where you chose to put your vegetables, you will need to be able to get an ample amount of water to the location. This may require you to purchase longer hoses, or select another spot.
- Some plants are easier to grow from seeds over others. When you are just starting out in gardening, it is important to know that even with the best conditions, seeds may fail to grow. Give yourself extra time to start plants from seedlings, and be prepared to purchase more stable plants from a nursery if your seedlings die.
- Seeds- some seeds such as: corn, peas, beans, melons, squash, and cucumbers can be put straight in the ground. Other seeds such as: tomatoes, bell peppers, spices, and flowers have to be started indoors 6-8 weeks ahead of the growing season. To start seeds indoors, you will can purchase a starter kit that comes with dirt pallets and container that creates a greenhouse effect.
- Spices- most spice plants can be sectioned out for planting. When spices are large enough, they can be divided and transplanted to a new location. To accomplish this, you take the head of a shovel and push it into the ground in the middle of the leaves. Do this method in a circle around the plant and gently remove the loosened roots from the ground.
- Full Grown Plants- there are certain vegetable plants and spices that are more difficult to start from seeds such as: tomatoes, bell peppers, rosemary, and lavender, to name a few. It will take time to master growing some of these plants from seeds. It is to your advantage to purchase some of these plants from a nursery as a back up if your seeds fail.
- Taking care of your garden will require a time commitment and effort. There are some things that you will need to do for your plants to ensure their productivity.
- Soil conditioning- prior to breaking up the dirt, you should be prepared to add nutrients to the soil. Make sure you sprinkle fertilizers and compost on the ground before tilling the dirt. This will mix in nutrients needed by the plants into the earth.
- Watering- plants will need to be watered every few days depending on weather conditions. Skipping too many days will cause plants to wilt and potentially die.
- Fertilize- plants will need to be fed every other week with the appropriate fertilizer based off of their chemical make up. Using a 10-10-10 fertilizer will meet the needs of most of your vegetables.
- Mulch- to keep moisture around your vegetables, it is important to put down some form of mulch. Throwing down straw, chipped wood, or leafy compost will also help with weeds.
- Weeding- one of the most difficult parts of gardening is pulling weeds. This will have to be done weekly to keep plants from being choked out.
Planting your own garden will give you health benefits along with a sense of accomplishment. Eating produce from the backyard instills a sense of pride in you and your family. The hard work is most certainly worth it.