Growing Guide: How to Get Started on Your Home Garden

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Gardening can be an incredibly rewarding thing to do. Whether it be planting vegetables or growing a beautiful bed of flowers, a home garden is a great way to add some aesthetics to your yard. Plus, seeing the plants you’ve took the time to care for flourish is quite a gratifying experience. Here are some tips to help you get started.

Pin down your garden idea

There are countless beautiful gardens out there that have many different functions. Before getting started, you’re going to want to choose what kind of garden you plan to have. Do you want an herb & vegetable garden for fresh produce to eat? Or maybe a flower garden to add wonderful scents and beauty? Or maybe even a mix? Whichever you choose, be sure to start small, and work your way up to more complex garden designs.

Choose your garden spot carefully

Most vegetables and flowers require at least six hours of full sun each day, so be sure to choose a spot that provides this necessity. It’s also a good idea to start your garden in a visible area so you won’t be able to easily ignore the needs of your plants. Finally, a location close to a water spigot is essential so you don’t have to get into a wrestling match with the hose.

Clear the ground and prepare the soil

Remove all weeds, sod, and other invasive plants from the ground. To give your soil a boost, you’re going to need to load it with organic matter. This could include compost, old manure, dry class clippings, or decayed leaves. These organic amendments will help improve plant growth by changing the physical and/or chemical properties of the soil.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Dig through the soil

This can be a tricky step if done incorrectly. Digging through the soil will help loosen it so roots can penetrate it more easily. However, if done when the soil is too wet or too dry, it can ruin its structure. Be sure to dig the soil when it is moist enough to form a loose ball in your fist. Use a spade to gently turn the top 8 – 12 inches of soil, while mixing in any organic matter from the previous step.

Picking your plants

This can quickly become a time sink for some people who pour over the endless varieties of plants to find the perfect ones for their garden. There are some things to keep in mind when choosing your plants, including how well they are adapted to the climate, soil, and amount of sunlight. Luckily, San Diego is a fairly mild climate with plenty of sunlight and warmth. Here are some great choices for beginner planters.

Vegetables and Herbs: mint, zucchini, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, and peppers.

Flowers: marigolds, impatiens, sunflowers, zinnias, lamb’s ears, black-eyed Susans, and daylilies.

Photo by krystina rogers on Unsplash

Now comes the planting

Whichever plants you choose, be sure to read the seed packet for information about when to plant, how deep to plant, and other important factors necessary for the plants to thrive. Some plants like tomatoes and most annual flowers are sensitive to the cold, so holding off until Spring is probably best. Other perennial flowers are better planted around late-spring to mid autumn.

Water and mulch

Seedlings require to always be moist until their roots become better established in the soil. How often you water depends on the weather, including the levels of humidity and how often it rains. To help minimize evaporation, watering early in the morning is your best bet. As for keeping weeds out of your soil, you should keep a couple inches of mulch in it. There are many different types of mulch available depending on what type of garden you’re planting. For vegetables and annuals, choose a mulch that decomposes over a short period of time. For perennials, use a long-lasting mulch such as a bark chips.

Maintaining your garden

Lastly, you must maintain consistency with your care. Pull weeds before they become too big, keep up with mulch, and be sure to keep your plants well watered. In time, you’ll have a beautiful garden to show for it!

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