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How to start your first vegetable garden

Have you ever had garden envy walking by someone else’s yard? Wished you had a green thumb like some of your friends? We are here to tell you that starting your own garden really isn’t as hard as it looks. Sure if you want neat, exact rows of vegetables or some rare tropical plant, you may have a harder time with it, but if you’re simply looking to grow some fresh vegetables or add a little pop of colour to your patio it’s quite easy. 

With a few simple steps, you can be on your way to growing the most luscious and envious of gardens. Everyone and every garden has to start somewhere, so why not start yours with these few tips!

X-marks the spot. Choose the correct spot for the plants that you are considering. Note whether the plants need full sun, partial shade or any other specific growing conditions. Choosing the correct spot will ensure that your garden succeeds and that the space meets the needs of the plants. A flat spot will be the best elevation so as to not allow for pooling of water or large amounts of run-off. Here are some examples of plants and their lighting needs:

  1. Full Sun: cucumbers, tomatoes, basil, rosemary, alpine aster, blue flax
  2. Partial Sun: beans, carrots, bee balm, mint, black eyed susan, crocus
  3. Partial shade: leaf lettuce, brussel sprouts, thyme, parsley, hostas, purple coneflower

Pick your plants. Decide what type or types of garden you want. This choice will influence other decisions you may have to make such as size and location. There are many different ways to go, herbs, vegetables, annuals, perennials, are all just a start. Also consider whether or not you will be planting in the ground or creating a container garden as this will alter which plants you should use and the amount of ground preparation needed. 

Measure it out. If you are planting vegetables or spreading plants, it is important to measure the space you are working with in order to know how many plants will fit. Each plant will have specific space needs because as it grows, it will spread and need more space. Knowing the measurements of your space will help you plan for the right amount of plants to buy as well as where to put them. 

Good soil, good garden. Most residential garden soil needs a boost in order to produce a flourishing garden. There are many problems that could be happening in your soil without you even knowing, anything from too wet or dry, too acidic or alkaline, or just infertile. Adding organic matter in the form of compost or even just dried leaves and lawn clippings will boost the quality and nutrients of your soil, improving your growing conditions. For containers, use a high quality potting mix from a local store and ensure that your pots have proper drainage. 

Time to plant. Now is the fun part, planting your garden. To ensure that your plants survive, wait until the last frost before planting outside. You can start seedlings inside around March to give them a head start if you wish, however you can purchase young plants in the summer time which will give you a jump on the growing time. Ensure that proper spacing is used when planting so that there is room for them to spread over time. Once planted, water thoroughly to ensure that seedling and new plants get the water they need to establish themselves. 

Maintain that maintenance. General upkeep for gardens is pretty simple and straightforward. Pull any weeds that start sprouting up and make sure to get the whole weed or you may end up with some pesky plants that keep returning. Water once a day at the most, monitor your soil and plant conditions to tell if more or less watering is needed. If you see any signs of pests, consult a local garden store on how best to deal with them. It is better to catch them early than to let them get out of hand if you don’t know what you are doing. 

Starting a garden is only as hard as you make it out to be. Choosing the right plants can be done with a quick Google search, mapping out where each plant should go can be done in an afternoon, even the watering can be done in 10 minutes. The hardest part about the whole process will be the actual labour that goes into mixing the soil and putting the plants into the ground. Whether you are planting vegetables for the first time or looking to add a little colour to your patio, gardening is a beginner friendly activity that many people can enjoy. There are lots of internet resources and friendly garden centre staff that are more than willing to help you get your garden off the ground. If this post has inspired you in any way to start your own garden, we would love to see some pictures of your completed gardens!