I’ve always been impressed with anyone who has a garden. It’s a skill that I never developed and respect people who invest the time and energy to start and maintain a garden. If you’re thinking about beginning a garden, Handyman Reviewed provides a great guide that covers everything from the basic elements to starter vegetables and tools. Here’s a sample of some of the great guidance the provide:
Basic Gardening Elements
First things first, consider if you have the appropriate space and layout to start a garden. The amount of space you have will essentially dictate what you can or can’t plant.
You can begin by asking yourself: do I live on a landed or non-landed property?
If you live on a non-landed property such as an apartment or condominium, it can be tricky to start a garden due to space limitations, but not totally impossible.
Potted plants, vertical gardens, and raised bed planters may be an option. However, this also has its own share of limitations such as the type of seeds that you can plant, for example.
On the other hand, landed properties, especially those with backyards, offer more flexibility when it comes to starting a garden and designing it the way you want.
Regardless of the space you have available, there are three things that you should consider: soil, water source, and sunlight.
Soil is the most basic element you need for planting. Now, it may not be the most exciting part of gardening but try to think of it this way: any growing plant needs to have a good foundation for it to thrive, much like houses, buildings, and even people.
There are different types of soil available. Each of which has different properties and uses. In other words, understanding the basic nuances of soil types will help you identify the most suitable one for the crops you intend to grow.
To know what type of soil you have in your garden, scoop up a handful of soil and try to determine its texture. Here’s a quick guide for reference:
Soil Type Texture Characteristics Ideal for Sandy Gritty and rough Drains and dries out easily Vegetable root crops like carrots, potatoes, and lettuce Clay Sticky and heavy when wet Slow to warm in spring and rather poor at draining but retains moisture Cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, kale, broccoli, etc. Silty Soft and slippery when wet Rich in nutrients but can be slow to drain Wheat and sugar beet (given your garden has adequate drainage), and trees like willow and birch Loam Fine, moldable but not sticky Contains a mix of sand, silt, and clay Most vegetable crops like peppers, green beans, cucumbers, and onions
Once you’ve identified the type of soil you need for your garden, the next step is to check the soil’s acidity level, which is determined by its pH level. This is important because a soil’s pH level will affect plant growth.
The quickest way to do this is by purchasing a soil testing kit from your local hardware store or gardening supplies shop.
Generally, your soil should have a pH level between 6.5 to 7 for your plant to thrive. Meanwhile, some plants thrive more using soil that’s too acidic (with a pH below 5.5) or high in alkaline (with a pH above 7.5).
Another basic element you need for plant growth is water. The most important thing to remember here is that you need to have a working water source in your garden.
Most gardens have an outdoor faucet where you can attach a hose to water your plants. Generally, plants need about one to two inches of water weekly to be healthy, depending on weather conditions.
For instance, you need to water your crops about two to three times per week (about half an inch more than the usual) during summer or hot weather conditions. Naturally, your crops would require less water when it’s cooler.
Drainage is also an important factor to consider. Your garden must have a decent drainage system as well; otherwise, it would run the risk of flooding or waterlogging.
This is very crucial if you live in an area where rain is rampant. If you don’t have one installed yet, you can start by considering the French drain.
This drainage system involves a pipe buried underground to divert water to an area where it can easily be drained. It’s normally covered by loose material such as gravel.
On a related note, you can also install an irrigation system, which helps you control the amount of water for your plants. There are different types of systems available like sprinklers, soaker hoses, and drip irrigation, to name a few.
It goes without saying that sunlight is a vital factor for plants to grow. Just like water, it’s equally important to make sure that your plants and crops don’t get too much sunlight.
In other words, plants require different amounts of sun exposure and intensity. This is defined by the following gardening terms:
- Full sun – Plants need six to eight hours of direct sunlight per day.
- Partial sun – Plants need three to six hours of direct sunlight per day.
- Partial shade – Plants need three to six hours of direct sunlight per day, but needs protection from intense sunlight during afternoons.
- Full shade – Plants need less than four hours of sunlight per day.
Generally, vegetable crops need about six and eight hours of sunlight per day. Seed packets often contain information about light requirements, so make sure to check before planting.
If you’re considering starting a garden, I strongly recommend the Practical Beginner’s Guide to Gardening