Understanding your climate will help you decide which plants to grow. Plants perform best when they have optimum temperatures for growth— the conditions need to be juuuust right.
This information is generally provided for seeds and plants online and when you purchase them to help you decide what will work best.
Everything You Need to Know Before Starting a Garden:
Location, Location, Location:
Gardens come in all shapes and sizes, so it’s just a matter of figuring out what will work for you. In fact, gardening doesn’t even have to occur outside—plants grown indoors provide some of the same stress-reducing benefits as gardening, while also improving indoor air quality . Community gardens provide another great alternative if your gardening space is limited or if you’re looking for a more social gardening scene.
If you’re growing plants outdoors, try to choose a spot that optimises all those things that plants need—light, water, nutrients, and good soils. You can choose to grow plants directly in the soil (which is an easy and affordable option), to build raised beds, or to grow plants in containers. Raised beds (which are basically large wooden boxes filled with soil) are often six to 24 inches off the ground; they can be very productive, but it will cost extra money for the materials to build the beds.
For smaller spaces or starter gardens, containers are a fantastic way to go because they provide so much flexibility. Watering is especially critical for containers because they dry out faster than garden beds. Luckily, these gardens are often pretty small so watering only takes a few minutes.
The wonderful thing about gardening is that there are so many potential plants out there to grow. Here are some things to think about as you plan your garden:
What types of plants are you most excited to grow?
Many people are interested in growing their own food, but others may be interested in simply beautifying their decks or yards.
If you’re growing plants for food, what do you most like to cook and eat? There’s no reason to grow a five-pound zucchini if you don’t love the stuff. Grow things that are so yummy to you, they may not even make it into the house!
What amount of space and light do you have available for gardening?
Take into account that, whether you’re gardening in the ground or in containers on a deck or patio, how much light the area receives each day, and whether the area offers any shade. While these variables will partly determine what you’re able to grow, the good news is you can pretty much garden anywhere.
How much time are you looking to spend on gardening?
Plants require regular care, so be realistic about how much time you’ll be willing to spend weeding, watering, and so on. It’s generally a good idea to start small and learn the ropes before taking on a huge commitment. If you love it, you can scale up from there.
How much you need to water plants will depend on a few things.
Hotter and drier air will pull moisture from plants and soils more quickly, so more watering will be necessary as the temperatures go up.
The type of soil you have in your garden will also affect how much water is available to plants. A good rule of thumb is that plants should receive enough water to cover the ground with an inch of water each week, and it’s better for plants to get all the water one or two times per week rather than a little bit each day. An easy test to see if plants have enough water available is to put a finger in the soil and make sure it feels moist two to three inches below the surface.
When watering, it’s best to use a watering can or sprinkler (dumping a lot of water on the plants all at once can damage them). Of course, if your area gets a lot of rain, you won’t need to perform this chore often!
Beginner gardening requires a few tools (but there’s no end to the amount of gardening equipment that one can use). The larger the scale of your gardening, the more tools you’re likely to need. One of the major reasons people are interested in gardening is to reduce food costs; if you’re in this camp, start with the minimum and add things as you need them. Container gardens are super-simple to get going. For these, containers, potting soil, a watering can, and a small trowel (or even a sturdy kitchen spoon!) are the basic equipment that’s needed.
For raised beds or beds in the ground, it’s helpful to have a trowel, watering can, shovel, hoe, and digging fork. Larger gardens might benefit from the use of bigger equipment, such as a rototiller, for preparing the soil—but this is by no means necessary if you’d prefer to flex those muscles in the garden.
Are you ready to try your hand at gardening yet?