How to Start a New Garden From Scratch
A guest post by Dianne Lampe
Harvesting your own flowers and vegetables from your garden backyard is one of the most rewarding endeavours for homeowners.
You need to make good preparation if you’re to avoid making costly mistakes later.
A garden in your backyard has several benefits supplying you with fresh vegetable flowers whenever you need them.
A garden enhances the beauty of your outdoor space and gives a reason to spend more time outside than usual.
Let this be the year when you start growing your vegetables and flowers and stopping running to the grocery all the time.
The success of any garden depends on the soil preparation procedures.
You will need to plan well and prepare everything before you can start growing your first plants in the garden. . . . so here are some steps in starting a garden from scratch:
Mark the area you want to create a garden
The first step is to mark out clearly the area you want to start your garden.
You can make use powder to mark it or even wooden sticks.
Saw cut small wooden stakes and hammer them into the ground around the edges of the garden.
You can then tie a string from one stake to another to mark the boundaries.
The size marked depends on with the area available and the size of garden you want.
It is always advised that you start a garden bed that is easy to maintain as starting a garden is just a tip of the iceberg, as there is much hard work in maintaining it afterwards.
The area chosen must be experiencing at least six hours of sunshine a day as this are some of the requirements of flowers and vegetables.
Clear away the grass
Most probably the area is covered by grass.
Getting rid of the grass should be your next step as these will be competing for nutrients with your vegetables.
Starting a new garden means sacrificing on some part of your lawn.
Get rid of all the grass and its roots for excellent results with your vegetables.
Dig the grass with a spade or sod cutter.
However, if you have time, you can cover the grass with several layers of thick newspapers and inches of soil compost and wait for the grass to die.
Dig up the soil
Now comes tilling your new garden to remove unwanted materials like rocks and roots.
All debris can now be removed before you can test your soils.
Tilling the garden must be done to depths of 8-10 inches deep which helps completely break up the soil and loosen it. A steel rake might be used to remove all debris that remains after tilling.
Test, and modify, the soil
You need to test the soil for pH analysis and nutrients to see if the soil as the ideal conditions for growing flowers and vegetables of your choice.
You can use a self-test kit found in almost all garden stores.
These kits come with all the directions and how to test soil and the recommended pH and nutrient levels. This will also be a good time to add some compost to your garden.
Depending on the condition of your soil after testing, you can add nutrients to modify the composition of the soil.
Acid soils can be balanced by soda ash and lime while alkaline soils can be balanced by iron sulfate.
An even layer of nutrients can then be spread over the soil before tilling them into the garden soil with a shovel or tiller.
Edge your new bed
Edging your new bed is one of the best ways to prevent weeds from crawling into your garden.
Make a trench of about 8 inches deep and some inches wide all around your garden.
You can even sink an edging material around the perimeter of your garden which will help stop even the worst invaders from crossing through to your garden.
Edging your garden is a crucial procedure that not only stops weeds crawling, but also keeps plants in the garden safe as the edge clearly defines the garden and prevents mowers and weed trimmers from affecting the plants.
Allow the soils to rest for a week or two
You don’t plant immediately after finishing with the preparation of soils.
The soils must be allowed to rest for a week or two to allow the nutrients to settle and start working.
Even before planting, you still need to rake the soil smoothly with a steel rake to give the soil the final preparation.
Site your plants
Don’t just remove your seedlings and plant them immediately.
You need to site them if you are to get the spacing right. It takes a little time to site all your plants on the garden but it is worth the effort.
You are now in the final step of seeing lovely plants in your garden and want everything to come out just fine.
This will also help you know the plants to place next to each other.
When every plant is in the right spot, it is time to start planting.
ALWAYS loosen or tease up the plant roots before placing them in the soil.
This is very crucial especially if the seedlings were root bound.
This gives the roots space to spread out and hold into the new soils.
The vegetables or flowers must be planted according to their won specific guidelines.
Add some mulch
Adding 3-4 inches or organic mulch is one of the best ways to keep your garden healthy and well-maintained.
There are several things you can use as mulch. Shredded barks of trees, dried leaves, straw or newspapers all work fine as mulch.
Mulch is essential helping prevent the growth of weeds and keeps moisture in the soil.
The mulch decomposes over time adding more nutrients to your garden.
You will probably see the benefits of mulch during the dry season when the soil needs to retain enough moisture to keep the plants going.
Water your garden
By now your garden is planted and well-mulched.
Giving the plants a good soaking is highly recommended to give them good moisture levels.
If you used dry mulch, the mulch would absorb most of the waters before the soils.
It is always better to soak the mulch before using them or water them after spreading them in your garden around your plants.
As you can see, there are a lot of things that must be done before one experience the rewards of a garden.
There is nothing complex about starting a garden from scratch as long as you follow all the steps.
You will be able to see healthy plants growing in your garden in a few weeks.
Dianne Lampe blogs about gardening at www.igardenplanting.com
She is passionate about all things related to gardening and blogs about indoor and outdoor planting as well as offering useful information about the best gardening products.