If you’re a first time gardener, there are a few things to know before you dig in. These tips will help you get started and make your gardening experience as smooth and fun as possible.
Start small, improve your soil and learn to weed and mulch properly so you can enjoy your garden with minimal maintenance.
One of the best tips for 1st time gardeners is to start small. A 10′ x 10′ (100 square foot) plot is plenty for your first garden, or you can try growing in containers.
To make the most of your plot, plant a variety of vegetables. It’s also a good idea to mix in a few flowers, like marigolds, that discourage pests and attract pollinators.
You should also be mindful of the size of your plants and space them properly. Some vegetables, like zucchini, need more room than others, so check your seed packet for recommended planting instructions.
Starting small will help you learn the basics of gardening, such as how much water your garden needs and how long it takes to weed and harvest. This knowledge can then be used to expand your garden in the future.
Know Your Soil
Healthy soil provides plant roots with access to nutrients, water and air. It drains quickly but holds moisture, neither too dry nor too wet.
Soils are typically made of a mixture of sand, silt and clay in various proportions. The particles vary in size from 0.05 to 2mm diameter.
Knowing what type of soil you have will help you choose plants that thrive in it. It also helps you determine whether a fertilizer or amendment will work best for your soil.
Plan Your Watering
Watering your garden is an ongoing process that needs to be planned based on changing conditions. Whether you water manually or with an irrigation system, it’s important to get it right.
During hot weather, it’s best to water early in the morning to allow plants to cool down before they become a breeding ground for fungal & bacterial disease. Afternoons are also fine as long as they don’t dry out the soil too much.
As a general rule, you should give your vegetables one to two inches of water per week depending on the type of garden, weather conditions and the type of plant. Those with deeper root systems, new plantings and larger ones should be watered more frequently.
Know Your Plants
Whether you’re planning a food garden or ornamental one, learning to care for plants will be an invaluable skill. The more you know about them, the easier it will be to find and nurture your favorite ones.
You can start by taking careful observations of plants, their unique characteristics and how they grow. Look for telltales like fuzzy leaves on African violets, or a crown-of-thorns on euphorbia.
If you want to be even more thorough, download and use a plant identification app. These apps can help you identify 17,000+ species with 98% accuracy, using photo recognition technology.
Many of these apps can also diagnose your plant’s disease, give you treatment advice and offer a community forum for help. Some of them even have a digital care calendar to keep track of all your plant needs and provide timely reminders for watering, fertilizing and planting.