The Ultimate Beginners Guide To Gardening
How To Start A Garden
Where to Start
So you’ve decided to start gardening and you’re still unsure of where to begin?
A good place to begin is understanding that an organic garden simply combines the use of organic gardening methods, conservation of resources, and methods of mimicking nature’s ecosystem right in your garden bed.
As a beginner, we recommend starting small with a simple vegetable garden and building upon your accomplishments over time as you gain more experience and confidence in gardening.
As you keep reading, you will find that our team of experts has pulled together a comprehensive guide for how to start a garden complete with different garden resources to help you prepare, plant, and maintain a sustainable garden that will continue to produce and thrive from year to year. We’ll reveal all the best gardening tips for beginners, plus answer all your questions like:
Find Your Planting Zone
As a beginner gardener, one of your first questions will likely be How To Find Your Planting Zone. Your geographic location and climate will affect how successful your garden is, so it’s not a surprise that knowing your planting zone is an important start when it comes to gardening for beginners. In addition to identifying your planting zone (also known as a hardiness zone,) it’s always a good idea to reach out to your local nursery, garden center, or agricultural extension office for further guidance. These community experts will be able to provide helpful insight about your planting zone and answer any additional questions that you might have! Additionally, we’ve put together a list of resources that our experts found helpful as they learned how to start a garden.
How To Plan Your Garden
Planning is key to a successful garden and one of the most important steps to remember whether you’re gardening for beginners or more advanced. It’s common for people to convert their patio, backyard, or front yard from a plain and ordinary space into a garden that’s both visually appealing and productive! This is why we recommend sketching out a blueprint of your new garden space before start planting, so you can get a better idea of the area’s functionality. Some important things to keep in mind during the planning process are:
- Is the area more sunny or shady? Take a look at how much sun exposure the area receives and if there are any structures or large trees blocking the area making it shady.
- Are you planning to grow in the ground? In raised beds? In containers?
After you’ve taken the time to assess the area and decided on a design, then it’s time to pick up what you’ll be growing which will dictate what type of soil you’ll need. As you explore your soil needs, don’t forget to check out our wide selection of organic soils! Whether you’re on the hunt for raised bed soil or just not sure exactly what soil you need, Kellogg Garden has you covered!
Planting For Beginners
After garden planning is complete, your next step is planting! When it comes to planting for beginners, we recommend that you have done the following before you get started:
- Know & understand what your planting zone is
- Planned out your garden space & design
- Have decided on what plants you’d like to grow
If you checked all of these off your list, then you’re ready to get started! There are different reasons that may have led you to start gardening and even read these beginners guide to gardening, so it’s important to be aware of these reasons since they likely impacted your choices and final garden design. One of the most important things to remember when planting for beginners is that a garden planted for diversity and beauty will typically contain plants that exist all year long, which will provide beneficial opportunities for companion planting. Whereas, a vegetable garden that has planted herbs, flowers, shrubs, and trees doubles as both sustainable and yield producing. With that in mind, here are top tips for planting for beginners:
- As you start planting, use the fruits & vegetables you are most interested in growing as a garden base
- Mix in flowers & herbs that offer benefits such as attracting pollinators, deterring pests, or help cultivate optimal growing environments for your edible plants.
- Have fun!
New Garden Growing
As you reach the growing phase in your gardening for beginners journey, you’ll begin to notice that your plants’ needs are changing. This is typically the time when frustrations set in but don’t worry! The fun has always just begun!
Your plants are growing at this time, and while there is no single formula to growing your garden, you will want to keep a close eye on things such as nutrient, sun, or water deficiencies, and pest issues. A plant’s foliage is often one of the first ways we can tell if that plant is happy, healthy, and thriving. Successful gardens need to be adequately watered, fertilized, and nurtured. When caught early, plant health and pest issues can in most cases be reversed but learning how to identify such issues before they become a problem is key.
Activities such as composting and mulching are beneficial and return essential nutrients into the soil, moderate soil temperature, and increase the water retention rate of the soil. Optimizing your garden design can be done in several ways such as growing certain crops vertically by using obelisks, cages, teepees, and trellises to help climbing plant varieties soar to great heights without consuming valuable garden space.
It’s Harvesting Time!
Garden Harvesting, Preserving, & Seed Saving…
Finally – you get to enjoy the “fruits” of your labor and we’re here to talk gardening tips for beginners for all things harvesting, preserving, and seed saving. If you have been using succession planting in your garden then you may not experience a sudden influx of fruits and vegetables that you now have to figure out how to eat. However, for the rest of us this is a good time to consider preserving some of the bounty harvested from your garden. When it comes to keeping your pantry stocked, some simple ways to preserve food include:
- Creating fruit jams & jellies
- Pre-making soups to freeze (especially good for the colder months!)
- Freeze vegetables & fruits
The possibilities are endless!
Transitioning Your Garden From Season To Season
You should be very proud of yourself! You set out to learn how to start a garden and not only did you master that, but you have reached the post-season!
Although you’re not actively planting, growing, maintaining, and harvesting during this time, there are still some secondary (but equally important) fall and winter garden activities to stay on top of. For example, edible plants like vegetables and herbs use up a lot of your soil’s nutrients as they grow, and it’s our job to add those nutrients back into the soil. We can do this by amending the soil, covering our crops, and even by mulching our soil.
Fall and winter can be a great time to review your successes and missteps that you faced throughout the growing season so you can plan accordingly for next year. Additionally, taking care of some of the maintenance items on your list like:
- Cleaning your tools
- Building or repairing your garden beds and trellises
- Planning your crop rotations
- Setting up a rainwater collection system
- Starting a compost bin
These are all tasks you can work on during this time that will lead to an even more successful garden next season!