1. Check your sunlight and soil.
The amount of sunlight you get in your garden and the pH of your soil are two very important factors to have a successful garden. Place your garden in an area of your yard that receives six to eight hours of sunlight a day. To find the pH of your soil you can buy a soil test kit at your local garden store. If you don’t have good soil in your yard this can easily be fixed by using compost or using a raised bed garden which we will talk more about later.
2. Decide what kind of vegetables you want to plant.
Deciding what kind of vegetables you want to plant can be based on a few things. First it can be based on your personal tastes, after all you are the one who will be eating the final product. This decision also needs to be based on the geographic area that you live in and the type of soil you have. For instance plants like tomatoes, concord grapes, and root vegetables do great in areas that have harsher weather.
3. Start your seeds inside. (especially if you live in an area that has cold winters)
In areas where you have long cold, winters (New England, Colorado etc.) You need to plan on starting your seeds inside or they won’t bloom in time to enjoy. Each seed needs to start at a different time you can find this on the packet of seeds or you can consult a number of online resources.
4. Decide what kind of garden you will have.
There are four types of gardens you can choose from; traditional, raised bed, or residential greenhouse.
A) Traditional gardens are just how they sound. You dig a hole in the ground put the seed in and water it until it pops up. This can work out well but if the soil pH is off or the ground is too hard the seed will not sprout.
B) Raised bed gardens are created at least six inches off the ground and can be up to three feet off the ground. You might choose this type of garden if your soil is not right for the garden that you want to plant. These are also great options for older people with limited mobility, or who can not bend over a traditional garden. They are also great for growing deep root vegetables like carrots and beets!
C) Container Gardening is another option for having a garden when you have limited space. This is typically used when you live in an apartment, or maybe you have pets and don’t want to build a fence around an outdoor garden, no matter the reason this might be an option for you! Container Gardening is typically done on a window sill, balcony, or porch. You build a garden by putting one plant in each container. You can grow nearly any vegetable in a container garden you just need to make sure you have the right size container. Large viney plants or deep rooted vegetables (like tomatoes, carrots, beets, or cucumbers) need at least a 5 gallon container. Where as other vegetables (like leafy greens, herbs, or onions) only need a 1 - 2 gallon bucket. Make sure your containers have proper drainage before you plant in them. (Step 1 still very much applies to indoor gardens!)
D) Residential Greenhouses provide benefits that are undeniable especially for an avid gardener. Owning your own greenhouse means you can plant anything you want year round. If you plan on planting vegetables and growing your own food this option might even save you money after the initial investment!
5. Buy your tools
The tools you need to start your first garden are water (at least 1 inch per week), a spade, a garden fork, a soaking hose, a hoe, and a wheel barrow. You can find these tools at a local garden shop or even a home improvement store.
6. Check frost dates
Checking the frost dates is highly important for an outdoor garden. You need to make sure that you plant the garden after the last frost so that your plants will grow all spring and summer!
7. Grow! Grow! Grow!
You now have all the steps you need to start your first garden! Now get out there and plant! It is not too late in the season to start some plants, just keep in mind your early start for next year!