We can quickly and easily master the gardening basics we need to convert our backyard into a thriving plant paradise if we have the necessary equipment and know-how. We can transform our backyard into a garden if we follow these step-by-step gardening recommendations.
Putting the correct plant in the right place at the right time is the key to gardening success. That begins with a grasp of the crops that are most suited to our climate and the best time to sow them. The Agriculture Department of USA has a plant hardiness zone map that can be searched by ZIP code and divides the country into thirteen (13) zones based on the average annual minimum temperature. We must first determine our zone and get familiar with the fruits, vegetables, flowers, and herbs that grow there (check international hardiness zone maps if we are not in the United States). Next, look up the predicted first and latest frost dates to determine the length of our growing season once we have chosen our climatic zone. We may now hunt for plants branded with the number corresponding to our hardiness zone at our local garden center. Finally, compare the number of "days to maturity" given on the seed packet to the duration of our growing season if we are buying seeds.
We must determine what plants we would want to cultivate based on the limits of our climate zone and our personal preferences. Do we enjoy a flower garden, a vegetable garden, a herb garden, a container garden, or a mix of these? Consider what kinds of fruits and vegetables we enjoy eating and plant them. Please take into account our accessible home gardening space as well. It is best to avoid huge plants if we have a little garden.
Most flowers and vegetables require many hours of direct sunshine every day, so choose a location that gets adequate direct sunlight for our plants. It will also be simpler to grow plants on a flat patch of ground near a structure that provides wind protection.
When we start our garden, we will need a full shovel and a pair of gloves, at the very least. However, there are a few more tools of the trade that may be useful:
We must do a soil test before starting a garden, which may be acquired for a minimal price from our local cooperative extension service office. We will find out whether our pH level is incorrect and if we have any nutritional deficits, as well as the amounts of clay, sand, silt, and organic matter in our garden soil. We will get instructions on how to fix any imbalances. We also can request a test that includes dangerous compounds such as lead and arsenic, which are occasionally detected in soil. We should not have to grow food in the ground if toxins are confirmed to be above acceptable levels. We have to grow food instead of wooden raised beds with a barrier on the bottom to keep the roots out of the ground.
The removal of existing vegetation is the first stage in developing a garden bed. Weeds can be manually pulled. Just make sure we get the roots to prevent them from resprouting. A gas-powered sod cutter can help us remove the grass if we are starting with a lawn. Then we must set up our plating area. Digging can disturb life beneath the topsoil (from worms to beetles to germs), which is undesirable. Try no-till gardening instead: Spread a thick layer of compost on the growing area once the rubbish and grass have been removed (at least four inches wide). If our weeds are exceptionally obstinate, consider sheet mulching, which compost weeds while retaining soil structure using cardboard. It is excellent if our beds are no more than 4 feet wide so we can reach the middle without walking on the soft dirt and compacting it, destroying all our hard work.
Seed starting may save money, but it is a time-consuming process with possible snags. Some seeds resist sprouting, while others take a long time to mature into vigorous plants capable of surviving in the harsh outdoors. We can also go to our local nursery and get young plants cultivated in a commercial greenhouse as an alternative. Remember that the largest plants in the batch are generally "root bound," so we do not necessarily want them. Due to a dense tangle of plant roots under the soil, these seedlings have outgrown their pots and may struggle to adapt to the garden.
Plant seeds at the specified depth on the seed packet, firmly push the dirt over them with our palm and water them whenever the soil surface dries out. Turn the container over gently while keeping the stem between our fingers on top of the earth while planting seedlings. Slide the pot away by gently squeezing it on all sides. Grasp the soil mass in our hands and knead it gently until the roots are no longer trapped in the shape of the container. If the plant is root-bound, we will need to massage it more vigorously, maybe with a knife, to break the root mat free. Finally, make a hole in the earth no more prominent than the root mass using our hands or a tiny trowel. Position the plant, cover the roots with dirt (avoiding covering any portion of the stem, which is a death sentence for many plants), and firmly push it into the ground.
Plants require around an inch of water every week throughout the growing season. If there has not been any rain, make sure we are giving our plants enough water. To avoid guessing, insert our fingers two inches down into the earth to see if the plants are thirsty. It is most likely time to water if it seems dry. Remember that most plants like to be somewhat dry rather than entirely wet. Root rot can be caused by too much water. The objective of watering is to keep the soil damp but not waterlogged.
Weeds have a tough time growing when the soil is covered with rocks (which can keep the soil damp and warm) and organic debris, and the ground is kept cold and moist. Mulch attracts worms and other helpful soil animals, and when it decomposes, it provides fuel for the soil food chain, similar to compost. It is critical to use the appropriate mulch for each crop. Fruit trees, bushes, perennial flowers, and other big, long-lived plants thrive on wood chips. Mulch that is lighter in weight, such as straw or leaves, is preferred by delicate veggies.
Garden upkeep follows a seasonal pattern. It is all about preventing weeds from taking root in the spring. Summer need increased attentiveness to keep the garden adequately hydrated. The autumn season is a time for pruning and cleaning. We have to pay attention to what the plants are telling us during the growth season. A yellow or distorted leaf indicates that it should be removed. A plant that is falling under its weight has to be staked. Overgrown, dense vegetation requires meticulous trimming to allow sunshine and fresh air to flow.