The next installment in our Beginner’s Guide to Gardening series is to answer the question “Where should I plant my first garden?”
Now, I obviously do not know where each and every one of your live, that would be overwhelming…and a bit creepy. So I can’t give you exact instructions, but I can tell you what to look for when planning where to put your garden.
What a Garden Needs
Gardens need good soil, fresh water, and lots of sunshine. Let’s look at these a little more closely.
Soil is what will feed your plants. The roots of the plants absorb the nutrients and water in the soil. If your soil has no nutrients, your plants will struggle. Good, nutrient-dense soil is darker in color and is kind of “fluffy,” meaning it isn’t compacted like cement.Â You can improve your soil by adding in compost, aged manure, and/or trace minerals (like kelp). Avoid chemical fertilizers.
You do not want to plant your garden in an area where you have standing water, that is an indicator that the soil does not drain well there. Soil that is compacted and does not drain well can be amended by working in sand and compost, if there are no better options.
Plants need water or they shrivel up and die. It’s that simple. The best water for your garden is the stuff that falls from the sky. When that is sparse, you need to get water to your plants. Water is heavy, so keep in mind you don’t want to be hauling buckets of water long distances in the case of a drought.
Plants need sunshine for a sweet little process called photosynthesis. It’s how they create the fuel they need to grow fruits and vegetables. Most garden plants need 6-8 hours of sunshine each day. So put your garden in the sunniest spot of your yard.
Types of Gardens
Not all gardens are grown in the ground. There are many types of containers that you can grow your garden in, too. Here’s a run-down of some options:
- Traditional in the ground garden. These can be planted anywhere you can dig the soil.
- Raised bed gardens. If at all possible, I recommend this over a traditional garden. It makes it much easier to cultivate the soil, improve drainage, and keeps you from compacting the soil by walking around the plants.
- Container gardens. This can be as elaborate or as simple as you want it to be. A windowsill herb garden in your kitchen is a container garden. A strawberry pot on your front porch is a container garden.
- Vertical gardens. These are really a variation of a container garden. Instead of sitting on the floor, these gardens go up. Some hang planters on walls or even create a wall of plants.
- Hydroponic gardens. Plants are grown in a special water solution instead of soil.
I Have No Proper Garden Space, Now What?
First, think outside the ground. Is there a windowsill that gets a lot of sunshine? You could grow some herbs and salad greens there. Try getting creative. Pinterest has lots of visual inspiration for different types of gardens, try browsing there and see what you can come up with.
If you truly have no proper space, then you will have to be more creative. Do you have a neighbor or relative nearby that would let you use some of their yard for a garden in exchange for some fresh veggies? Is there a community garden space available to you?
If you want to grow fresh vegetables, find a way to do it. You will love the rewards you will harvest.
Clip art from Collective Creation.