Beginning a garden can be a rewarding experience for you and your loved ones. You may have fresh produce to harvest in a surprisingly small amount of time. The act of gardening is a labor of love. The taste of a meal accompanied by home-grown vegetables is one that you are not likely soon to forget. You’ll find that store-bought falls flat compared to the flavor and freshness of what can be grown in your back yard.

The first hurdle in any gardening experience is picking your crop and the proper time to plant it. For example, the best time to plant a tomato plant varies widely in different locations throughout the year. The location is due to some factors, including altitude, climate, and soil properties. Once you have picked your crop, you must do some research on the best time to plant it according to your whereabouts.

While we wait for the optimal time to plant the crops we have chosen to pursue, there is still much that we can do to prepare in the meantime. There are many materials that we will need to start a successful garden. The budget for which can remain significantly small in regard to the yield that will be experienced for years to come.

First, you should find a space that is optimal for the type of crops you plan to grow. For instance, if your plants will need a large amount of sunshine, your garden should be placed at some distance from structures and foliage to avoid the shadows cast by them. Now would be a good time to plan the layout of the crops. Experienced gardeners will often plant in rows. It gives space for the plants to grow, as well as to the gardener to maintain and harvest from the plants without disruption to the surrounding plants. Some plants can be close together; others are further apart. You should research the amount of space suggested for the crops you plan to grow.

Now, an important question arises. Will your plants grow from the soil present at your garden, or will you provide store-bought soil for the plants to grow from? Growing directly from the ground, referred to as traditional farming, is a very difficult process. Complex questions arise because of the soil’s porosity, alkalinity, organic material, macronutrients, and micronutrients. For beginning gardeners, the recommendation for a new garden is grown from substrates. In this system, some barrier exists between the substrate and the surrounding area. We at Urban Farming Education use a Ready-Go-Bag System, a foolproof way for novice gardeners to be successful. 

The bag system is formulated with large-scale farmers, agronomists, and microbiologists to achieve ultimate growth and nutrition. However, this is not the only setup available for you to use. A gardener can find success growing fresh produce from a substrate in pots, balcony boxes, or directly from the ground, assuming some barrier separates the existing soil.

Gardening is an inexpensive way to improve your quality of life. Throughout human history, gardens and farms create sustainable and thriving environments. An at-home garden is possible, using nothing but your own two hands! With that said, most of us would rather not have soil under our fingernails! Here is a list of recommended tools that will make your life as a gardener less difficult:

  1. Gardening Gloves
  2. Trowel
  3. Clippers
  4. Shovel
  5. Rake

Depending on the size of your garden, some tools might be more necessary than others. A large garden would benefit more from the use of a shovel than a small one.

The next step in setting up your garden is your irrigation system. Irrigation systems can be modest or very complex. A person could manually water their crops using a watering can. Many gardeners elect to do this while starting. However, especially in warmer climates, even just one missed day can mean disaster for your crop yield. Another option is to have an automatic irrigation system. These can be large scale sprinklers able to spray over fields of crops. They can also be small systems that precisely target individual plants. Both of these systems can water your plants automatically at a specified time throughout each day. Creating an automatic watering setup is often considered to be among the most difficult processes a gardener can attempt to DIY.

For this reason, many gardeners elect to hire irrigation companies to install an irrigation system for them. Should you choose to attempt this process yourself, a good resource is your nearest home and garden store. Employees there will be eager to aid you in finding a setup that will work for your specific garden.

Once you have all of your materials in place and setup, it is time to begin your garden! For the crops you choose, you should research the specific processes for planting the crops. Often, if you have purchased seeds, these processes will be made apparent on their packaging. How deep should you plant the seeds, should they be soaked first, etc. Planting seeds is fairly straightforward. To simplify, remove some dirt and place some seed. Place the dirt back over the seed and take care not to compress the dirt back down overly. Now water the seed.

Once you plant the seeds, the true battle begins. Gardens need frequent attention and maintenance. It is important not to let weeds get out of control in your gardens, as they will compete for limited resources with your crops. Furthermore, once some foliage begins to develop in your garden, you may begin to attract unwanted pests. These can arrive in the form of small insects such as aphids, small mammals such as rabbits, and birds. You will likely face a formidable foe in each of these pest categories for many gardeners at some time throughout your gardening career. Each specific type of pest has different ways to be combatted. For pests, it is important to research types of insecticide spray to use on crops. For mammals, an offensive approach is with various traps. However, what is often most effective is a good defense. In this approach, the garden is barriered off from small animals with the use of fences. Birds can dissuade from coming to a garden using age-old techniques, such as a rotating-head owl figure. A more intensive approach to a bird problem is completely covering the crops with fencing or a greenhouse.

After these steps, you have successfully built your first garden! Gardening is a difficult hobby, but one that is rewarding to the individual, their community, and the environment as a whole.