Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Garden Tips for First Time Gardeners

Photo by: Hans

Gardens are hard work, but if you plant in the wrong location, have too many plants for the area or not enough space for the plants when they mature, then you will have problems. You can make it easier on yourself by doing a few things beforehand. This article will have several tips for a happier gardening experience.  

Once you choose the area for your garden, have the soil tested. A healthy soil is vital to plant growth. A strong, healthy plant is less susceptible to disease and insect problems. It is easy to take a soil sample though. Come on, let’s get started.

Dig a hole that is at least 8 inches deep. Position your spade ½ to 1 inch away from the wall of your hole and slice straight down through the dirt. This is your soil sample. Place the soil sample into a clean bucket. Dig another hole in another part of your garden and take another soil sample. You will need at least six different samples.

Thoroughly mix the soil samples in the bucket. Remove two cups of the soil and place it in a plastic bag. This is what you will send off to the State testing laboratory. When the results come back, you will know what nutrient it has too much of or what your soil is lacking. Now you can add the missing nutrients with organic fertilizer.

Diagram the Area
Grab a tablet and pencil and start making a diagram of the area you want to use for gardening. Next, make a list of the plants you want to grow in your garden. Be sure to note if the garden site has full sun exposure, shade, or a mixture of both. As you look through plants, and make your list, write down how much light it needs, the height, and spread, along with flower color if applicable. In flower gardening, you'll want the taller plants toward the back of the garden, or close to the foundation. Plant them in graduated size with the shortest in front. Central flower gardens should have the tallest plants in the middle with graduating heights going down on each side. You will want a garden that has aesthetic visual composition. Flower gardens should be pretty from any angle.

If you are planning a vegetable garden, the tall plants should be on the east end of your garden with rows running north to south. I usually plant my corn in the first row, tomatoes in the middle and peppers on the west side. This way, the tall plants won't shade the garden.

Each plant takes up space. You don't want to overcrowd your plants because this invites disease. All plants need good air circulation to prevent fungal diseases. Measure out the dimensions of your garden. You have your plants picked out, so all you need to do is figure out how many plants you'll want or need to fill a space. Remember also, when you first plant your garden, you'll have bare earth showing. Be patient and the plants will grow. Soon you won't see the ground amongst all the green leaves and flowers.

Once you have the plans for your garden and the soil tested, you're off to a great start. You'll know what you want to buy and the number of plants needed for your garden. What do you do to make gardening easier? If you have any tips or suggestions, please share them.