One of the fastest growing hobbies in North America is the growing of small, personal gardens. From flowers to vegetables to fungi, people from all walks of life enjoy the challenge that comes with growing your own produce. And when you get to enjoy the products of your labor, it’s even better!
Operating a personal garden comes with a lot of challenges. The techniques you should use and the plants you should plant depend on where you live, what time of year it is, and how much care you are willing to give your plants.
For example, if you travel often, investing in orchids may not be the best decision.Or, if you live in Alaska, growing tomatoes in September may end in tragedy. These are just example of things you have to consider if you’re interested in growing your own garden. Fortunately, following this five step guide will help you develop that green thumb in no time!
Step 1: Determine what crops to grow
Determining what plants you should grow is dependent on where you live and what time of year it is. The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture has published a map of zones that classify the climate you live in. Use this map as a guide when reading about the different plant options.
For example, the perfect time to plant tomatoes may be earlier in the year in a warmer climate than a cool one. You can cross reference where you live with the specific needs of whatever crop you decide to plant, and make sure your area is suitable to growing that specific plant.
Step 2: Select a spot in your yard
The next step is to make the garden plot in your yard. You should select a spot that receives a lot of sunlight to ensure healthy plants. This spot should be away from any large trees or shrubs, and also away from your house to avoid shadows.
It’s also important to have high quality soil–for example, make sure you aren’t planting your garden in clay, which is inhospitable to most plants. You may need to purchase manure or other organic soil additives to make the soil more hospitable for your garden.
Step 3: Plant Your Crops
Once you’ve found the perfect place, it’s time to physically create your garden. Using a garden hoe or a shovel is a common way to till the soil, but there are numerous ways you can do it. You want to begin in the spring, when your soil is warm and ready to be planted.
When the soil is ready, it’s time to plant your crops. The technique to use varies on the plant–make sure to read directions carefully to ensure the proper technique. This will give you the best chance to have a bountiful harvest.
Step 4: Ensure your plants receive proper care
Now that you have planted your crops, you have to make sure they grow with the proper care. Make sure you understand watering schedules of each of the plants you want to grow. Over-watering or under-watering is a common mistake gardening beginners make, and plants need to have the perfect amount of water to grow. Some plants, like tomatoes, may need extra attention, like growing inside of tomato cages.
Step 5: Harvest at the perfect time
The last step is the best one–you get to harvest your plants and enjoy the fruits of your labor. This is where your specific climate zone might come back into play–the time of year to harvest your plants may vary depending on when you planted them and where you live.
Some plants ought to be harvested before they’re at their peak ripeness. We all know that bananas should be a little green when we buy them at the grocery store, and many of the crops you grow also should still have a little ripening to do. This varies by plant species, though, so make sure you understand exactly what your plant calls for.
Growing your own plants and incorporating them into your home cooked meals is one of the most satisfying things you can do, and everyone should try it at least once. Following this guide will give you the best chance to have a bountiful harvest.