This page has everything you need to get started with gardening – whether you are a complete beginner or an expert building a garden for a new home.
If you’re here, you’re probably already sold on starting a garden. If you’re still not sure, this article on the advantages of gardening might convince you.
Ready to begin? Let’s start with finding a place to grow your garden.
Finding A Garden Location
Choosing a good spot for your garden is one of the most important decisions you will make.
Get it right, and some other gardening sins can be forgiven. Get it wrong, and you will have to work extra hard to make up for it!
Gardening With Limited Space
Even if you don’t have a huge yard, you can still find a place to grow, whether on a patio, balcony, in a kitchen, or even on rented land!
It’s true – you can rent garden space. You can learn all about how to rent garden space in my article here.
If you have a house with a garage but limited green space, check out this article on what to plant on the side of a garage.
If you are stuck indoors, try this article for some ideas about what to grow in your kitchen.
If you are away at school, read up on how to grow a vegetable garden in a college dorm room.
Once you have a place to grow, it’s time to improve your soil and prepare the planting site.
Improving The Soil
Before you plant anything, it is important to improve the soil to get the best harvest possible from your garden.
Smooth It Out
It is harder to grow anything in rocky soil, so it might pay to do the work to sift some of the rocks out.
Of course, no-till gardening is a growing movement – and for good reason. It is better for earthworms and for the soil. It is also less work for you!
If you want to skip the rototilling, don’t worry about it!
A good place to start is to do a soil test to see if the pH or nutrient levels are way off. You can learn about what a soil test tells you in this article.
This just means things that you add to the soil to make it better. A good place to start is by adding compost or aged manure.
Both of these add nutrients and organic material to the soil. They also make it harder to over water or under water (although both are still possible!)
If animal manure is available, it is another great source of nutrients for the garden. Just make sure to age it first to avoid burning plants!
Once the soil is ready to go, it’s time to choose your seeds if you are starting from scratch.
Seeds & Germination
You can always buy plants from a garden center, but it is fun to sprout your own seeds at home. It is also more cost-effective, and the plants are more likely to be free of disease.
Once you pick up some clean potting soil or seed starting mix online or from the garden center, it will be time to start thinking about planting seeds.
However, first things first: we need to learn about frost dates and when to plant seeds.
Last spring frost date is often used as a guide to help you decide when to plant seeds or transplant into the garden.
If you don’t know how to read a seed catalog, you will after reading this article.
Many seed companies sell hybrid seeds, and they have their advantages – you can learn more here.
There are lots of places you can get your seeds, but I think Johnny’s Selected Seeds is one of the best seed companies around.
If you are wondering when to plant your seeds, this resource from the Old Farmer’s Almanac will tell you when to plant each crop, depending on where you live.
If you are wondering how deep to plant seeds, this article will shed some light on the question.
Speaking of which, some seeds need light – or only a shallow layer of soil – in order to germinate. You can find out which ones here.
These tables from the University of California tell you the ideal temperature ranges for germinating seeds, along with how much time it will take for sprouts to emerge from the soil.
In addition to warm temperatures, seeds need moist (but not soggy) soil to germinate. A humidity dome can help you with that.
This article explains all about seed trays, in case you want to make it easy on yourself if you need to start lots of seeds at once.
If you get more seedlings that you can reasonably plant, you may have to thin them out – sad, but true.
Starting A Garden On A Budget
No money for seeds? No problem! You can still start a garden without much money.
Once your seeds have sprouted into young plants (or after you have bought established plants), it is time to transplant them into the garden!
This resource from the Old Farmer’s Almanac will tell you when to transplant each crop, depending on where you live.
Ideally, we could transplant into the garden and never worry about frost. However, don’t let cold weather put your gardening plans on ice.
Read this article to learn about cloches, which protect young plants from cold.
Read this article to learn about row covers, which protect established plants from cold.
Did you know that it is possible to over water plants? You can learn about it here.
There is also a best time of day to water, which you can read about here.
A bag of fertilizer has 3 numbers listed on it, such as 10-20-10. These numbers tell you how much nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium is in the bag.
To find out more about what these cryptic numbers mean, check out this article on NPK ratios.
Of course, is also possible to over fertilize plants, which you can read about here.
It would be a shame to do all of the work of gardening and then get a terrible harvest due to lack of pollination.
Unfortunately, low bee populations make this situation more likely. You can learn how to pollinate plants (like tomatoes) by hand in this article.
Here is some extra info that you might find helpful as you start your gardening journey:
- Daily Garden Maintenance Checklist – this checklist will help you to keep track of garden tasks so you don’t forget to do anything during the week.
- Become A Better Gardener – this list includes ways to take your gardening game to the next level.
- Vegetables That Grow In 60 Days (Or Less!) – if you got a late start with gardening this year, you can still pull off an impressive harvest with these crops!
- Crop Rotation – this article teaches the basics of crop rotation, which will help to improve your garden output over the long term.
Well, there you have it. This page is a good place to start if you are just beginning your gardening journey.
I will update this page as I create new resources to make gardening a little easier.
I hope you find it helpful – enjoy your gardening journey!
If you have any specific questions, click on the magnifying glass at the top right of the page and type in your topic. If there is anything on the site, it will show up!