We’re well into spring right now–in fact, we’re actually getting pretty close to summer! And I’m not sure about you, but here in the Northeast we’re finally starting to feel some actual spring-like weather rather than what had essentially been a very long extension of winter. And this type of weather is perfect for lots of things–especially gardening!
The best part about having a garden is that you don’t have to have experience gardening to enjoy it. All that’s required is some hard work, care, and dedication. Oh, and soil, pots, planters, seeds, flowers/plants, gardening tools, sunlight, water, maybe some mulch. But we’ll get into all of that in a minute. In Today’s Lesson, you’ll learn how to plant a garden!
And not just one garden–three types of gardens! We’ll show you how to plant a flower garden, a vegetable garden, and an herb garden. But before we get into the specifics, there are a few things you’ll need to do regardless of which type of garden you’d like to plant.
- Decide where you want the garden to go. Pretty self-explanatory, but there are things to consider, such as curb appeal vs. visibility to you (would you rather a garden for others to see in the front of your yard or maybe for you to see in the backyard?), where the sun hits your yard every day, etc.
- Prep the area for a garden. If you already have a flowerbed or garden (essentially an area of exposed dirt, with no grass), you can skip this step. If not, you’ve got some work to do! Once you’ve picked the perfect location, you’ll need to dig up any existing grass with a shovel or a hoe so only the dirt is exposed. This does require some elbow grease and sweat–if you prefer to skip this step (and are the patient type), you can opt for the shovel-free method. For that, you’d need to lay many layers of newspaper over the grass you want to remove. And then add several inches of compost or soil on top of the newspaper and water thoroughly. The covered grass will die within a few months, but it’s best to keep the area covered for up to a year (we told you this required patience). At that point, it should be ready for planting.
- Get your supplies! You want to be prepared when you start to get your garden going. The last thing you want is to be elbow deep in soil when you realize you ran out of mulch or you can’t find your rake. So be sure you have the right tools (shovel/hoe, gardening gloves, soil rake, topsoil, mulch, a mat or pad for your knees, and your seeds or plants, of course.
Planting a flower garden
Once you’ve tackled all of the steps above, it’s time to get planting! If you’re looking to add a dazzling burst of color and a sweet scent to your garden, flowers are the way to go. The hardest part is choosing which ones you want for your garden! And there are many factors to consider: annuals (plant every year), perennials (plant once and they’ll grow back every year), how much sun/shade the flowers need to thrive, how much maintenance the flowers require (orchids, while beautiful, are notoriously difficult to maintain; hostas, on the other hand, are about as low-maintenance as plants/flowers get), how costly the plants or flowers are, etc.
When you’re shopping for flowers (whether in plant or seed form), be sure to pay close attention to the instructions that are included–the last thing you want to do is plant a full-shade flower in full sunlight–or vice versa. You’ll quickly have dead flowers on your hands. Once you’ve chosen the right flowers:
- Dig a hole in the soil roughly as deep as the root ball of the plant. Again, refer to the instructions because some plants and flowers need to be planted at specific depths in order to thrive.
- Mix some compost or nutrient-rich garden soil in with the dirt for healthier soil.
- Place the plant/flowers into the hold, then cover the root ball with the compost/soil mix.
- Water thoroughly upon planting and then regularly after that.
- Cover the area with mulch and watch the flowers grow! Well, not literally–you probably don’t have time for that.
If you’re using seeds, follow the packet instructions closely as you may need to start growing the seeds indoors before moving them outside.
From there, let your imagination run wild! Or as wild as your budget will allow, anyway. There are so many ways to showcase your new floral paradise–if the area is large enough, you could add a small bench, a fountain or bird bath, landscape lighting, and other decorations. Some people add a retaining wall while others simply dig a small trench between the flowerbed and the grass. The sky’s the limit!
Planting a vegetable garden
If you’re looking for practicality over visual appeal, a vegetable garden might be right for you. With grocery prices rising astronomically, being able to grab fresh veggies from your own garden is cost-effective–and rewarding! To plant your own vegetable garden, you more or less follow the steps above for planting a flower garden.
You’ll have to dig the appropriate hole(s) and prep the soil just as if you were to plant flowers. Once you decide which veggies you want to grow, plant the seeds or plants according to not only the directions but also the appropriate growing season. Almanac.com has the perfect guide when it comes to knowing when to start planting your vegetables–check it out here!
Once you’ve determined when to plant the veggies, water consistently, mulch, fertilize as needed, and then reap the bounty of your harvest! The best time to pick vegetables is when they’re young and tender. However, you should only pick them when you’re ready to use them. For root crops (like carrots), you can pull them as soon as they reach an edible size. For leaf crops (like lettuce, spinach, etc.), cut the leaves within two inches of the ground. Then simply wash and enjoy!
Planting an herb garden
Not everyone has the space or ability to plant a full flower or vegetable garden, such as those living in a city or in an apartment or condominium. But anyone, anywhere can grow an herb garden!
If you have the space outdoors, go for it. If not, you can easily grow your own herbs indoors–just make sure to place the herb garden in a location that receives plenty of sunlight. You can certainly grow an herb garden in the ground, but many find it more convenient to use small planters or containers for easier picking. Before we get to the steps on how to plant your herb garden, first decide which herbs you’d like to grow. Some of the more popular herbs people love to grow for cooking include oregano, basil, thyme, dill, rosemary, lavender, coriander, and mint. And, just like other flowers and plants, herbs can be either annual or perennial.
Keep in mind, however–while it’s certainly appealing to envision growing herbs on a kitchen windowsill like you’ve probably seen on TV or read about in novels, it takes a fairly large herb plant to produce enough herbs for regular cooking. Smaller herbs planted indoors will generally suffice for occasional cooking and for providing a pleasant scent, but you’ll need to go larger if you plan on cooking with your herbs on a regular basis.
Once you’ve decided which to grow, it’s time to plant!
- Prep your soil. Whether in-ground or in a container, you’ll want to use lean soil, meaning you don’t need to fertilize or compost. This can reduce the flavor in many herbs.
- Place in sunlight. Most herbs need plenty of sunlight–at least six hours a day. So find a location that fulfills those lighting needs and keep your herb garden in that spot.
- Water regularly–but don’t overwater. Like most plants, herbs need water to thrive. But too much water can harm the plants and eventually cause them to die. Rather than watering them x times a day or week, just keep an eye on the herbs. If they start to look dry, give them some water.
- Harvest regularly. Some people think that harvesting or pruning their herb plants can be damaging. Quite the opposite, actually. Once there is enough to harvest, it’s recommended you do so, especially if you plan on using the herbs for cooking. Doing this regularly will also help when it’s time to cut back any perennial herbs you’ve planted (a rule of thumb is to cut these back by about two-thirds at the end of growing season).
If you decide to plant a garden (no matter what kind) or already have one, we’d love to see the fruits (or vegetables, as it were) of your labor! Add a comment and post a picture below!
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