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The Official Guide to Gardening for Beginners
by Caroline Harris
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It’s gardening season! Late March to late May is the best time to start your garden for fresh fruits, vegetables, and plants that you can enjoy once summer rolls around. Not sure how to get started? This guide has tips and product recommendations to make gardening for beginners easy and fun.
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1) Decide what kind of garden you want to grow.
Close your eyes and visualize your dream garden. Does your yard teem with lilies, peonies, and roses? Have you always wanted to grow herbs? Or do you see yourself with a fruit or vegetable garden? Each type requires different maintenance and care, so it’s important to weigh all your options before jumping into gardening for beginners.
Do your homework to discover what plant varieties thrive in your location and current climate. You’ll find there are top native plants for where you live. For example, red huckleberries and stream violets thrive in the Pacific Northwest, while rain lilies and climbing roses excel in the South. Crops often perform best in either cool seasons or warm seasons, so make sure to plant at the proper time of year. Melons and squash love summer weather, for instance, while hardier vegetables like broccoli and kale favor the cold.
2) Pick a spot that is sunny, flat, and still.
Most plants require at least six hours of daily sun, so choose a sunny spot in your yard for growing your fruits, herbs, and vegetables. (Research the light requirements of your plants to be sure.) Some plants, like primroses and oakleaf hydrangeas, thrive in partial to full shade, so do your due diligence before planting them.
It’s also wise to choose somewhere flat for your garden. (Sloping gardens can be tricky to manage because of soil erosion and draining issues.) Avoid areas that are heavily hit by the rain or wind, and try to place your garden by a water source, like a hose. That way, when it’s time to water your plants, you won’t have to lug a heavy watering can across your yard.
3) Prepare your soil by clearing the ground and adding organic matter.
Create a new garden bed by using a shovel (such as Landscaper’s All-Purpose Shovel) to dig up the sod, which is the top layer of earth that includes grass and the roots holding it together. Mark the perimeter of your new garden using spray paint, stakes, or string. Apply a layer of corrugated cardboard, dampening the material with a garden hose. Add six sheets of newspaper, then spread three to six inches of compost over the paper. After several months, your soil should be nutrient-rich, fertile, and plantable as earthworms work their magic.
If you already have an established bed to work with, improve the soil by adding two to three inches of compost. You’ll also want to work the soil: using a spade (such as Barebones for Terrain’s trowel) to carefully turn the top layer of soil while adding more organic matter to the mix.
4) Plant your seeds.
Study your plant’s seed packet and do some research to learn about planting time, watering levels, spacing, and depth. How you sow the seeds will vary based on the plant’s unique needs, so make sure to research what conditions are best. Generally speaking, you will want to dig holes into the established bed, set your plants into the holes, then pat the soil surrounding the roots. Add a generous amount of water to finish off the process.
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5) Water regularly and use mulch to help prevent weeds from growing.
Once a week is generally a good metric for how often to water your plants, but this number depends on the level of humidity and rainfall where you live. Keep in mind that some plants require more water than others. An easy hack to find out if you need to water your plant? Stick your finger four inches into the soil, then water your plant if the soil feels dry. Adding a couple inches of mulch to your soil will help lock moisture in so you don’t have to water your plants as regularly. Mulch also helps prevent weeds, so show your garden some love by investing in the helpful product.
After following these techniques on gardening for beginners, you may discover the green thumb you never knew you had. Get started with these amazing gardening tools and accessories from Terrain.
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