Easy Steps to Plant a Garden

11 years ago my husband and I planted our very first garden.  We had a small amount of experience planting our own food and couldn't wait to have fresh vegetables come harvest.

We had some stumbling blocks along the way.  Like the neighborhood birds and an over abundance of morning glory.  But in the end we had a decent harvest and some of the best sweet corn I've had to date.
Easy steps to help you learn how to plant a garden successfully for your best crop ever.
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Each year we have expanded our garden and added new plants to the list.  Each year we have successes and failures.  But learning from those has helped us be enthused for the next years garden.

Having a garden is one of the most satisfying projects you'll ever take on.  But it can be frustrating if you don't take a few steps BEFORE you start.

Let me share with you our steps on how to plant a garden successfully.

how to plant a garden
1.  Choose your location carefully
Garden location is the key.  Your garden should get full sun for 6-8 hours a day and have access to water.  

Some people prefer to have a bit of shade for their garden for certain plants to grow.  I tend to go for full sun.  I can always add a small canopy or plant next to larger growing plants that will provide a lot of shade, if I need.

Make sure the soil drains well and that you don't have soggy run off.  It can easily wash your garden away or cause mold.  

We had this problem our first year on our 10 acres.  The neighboring ditch ran off into our garden and washed all our seeds away shortly after planting.  It was a frustrating experience.  

Learn from us.  Pick your garden plot carefully.

how to grow a garden for dummies

2.  Make a planting plan
What do you want to plant?  Even better...what do you want to harvest?

Are you wanting beautiful cut flowers?  Yummy vegetables for your table?  Some sweet berries for jam?  Make a plan on what you'd like your garden to do for you.  

Start small.  Best advice I can give.  

Don't get too excited and over plan.  We've found that out the hard way.  Gardens take time and maintenance.  Make sure you are willing to get out there each week to weed, water, fertilize.  

If you can't commit to a big garden, grab a couple of terracotta pots and plant tomatoes in one and some herbs in the other.  You might be surprise by how much you yield from those two pots.

Once you've decided what you want to plan, draw out how you intend to plant them.  Or you can use an online garden planner software.

I always think my garden can hold more than it actually can.  I'd advice to actually take a tape measure to the space.  Make sure you know how many rows or sections you can plant.  Make sure you have room for everything to grow.

Remember that plants need to cross pollinate.  For instance, just one row of corn is not going to do very well.  It won't have much to cross pollinate with.  But 4-6 rows of corn can grow very nicely.

Draw out your plan and use that to purchase your seeds or plants.

3.  Prep the land
Before you buy your seeds or plants, get that garden plot ready.  We've had years where we've jumped the gun and bought our plants but didn't have the garden ready for them.  They really struggled because they sat around to long and didn't get in the ground soon enough.

Remove any large rocks, pieces of wood or weeds.  Tile the ground.  Whether you have a tiler or you use a shove to turn the soil.  After a long winter the soil needs simulated.  It needs some air.  The better tiled the garden is, the better your plants will do.

Now is also a good time to improve the quality of your soil.  You can add compost to help add nutrients back into the soil.  Or collect those earthworms and give them a new home in your garden.

Make sure to also plan to rotate your crops.  Don't plant the same crops in the same spot every year.  You'll notice they don't do as well.  The nutrients in the soil are depleted.  

And since you already did step 2, you can also start trenching your rows or making mounds for plants.

How to grow a simple vegetable garden
4. Planting seeds and plants
Here I am going to offer my preferred methods of planting seeds and small plants.  You can always start your own seeds indoors or you can use the winter sowing method to grow seeds into plants.

For most seeds, we plant in rows.  Whether it is corn, carrots, or beans.  We dig rows and plant several rows for each.  They've always done well and grow nicely supporting one another.

For plants like tomatoes, squash and peppers, we have found that making a nice mound is the best method.  We will build up a mound and dig the plant into the middle of the mound.

We also tend to use mounds for vine plants like pumpkin seeds or squash seeds.  We also will plant these next to a fence they can grow up or at least near an area the can really spread out in.  Otherwise, they'll take over your entire garden.

You can really plant however you see fit and whatever works in your space.  Just make sure you follow the counsel given on your seed packet or plant tag.

how to grow a garden
5. Plan water rotation
Some people are super lucky and they have their garden set on their sprinkler system.  We are not so lucky.

We tend to water every other day.  We have used both the flood irrigating method and overhead sprinkler method.  Personally, for our property and soil, I like the flood irrigating method.  Our soil is clay-like and our plants really struggle with sprinklers.

Your water method is up to you.  But make sure your plants get good water.  The soil should be dry or mostly dry when you start watering and muddy when you finish.  If your soil is already wet, you don't need to water.

Watch your watering as the season progresses.  When it is hotter, you'll need more water.  As it cools back down in the fall, you'll need less.

You also want to be careful as to what time of day your water.  We get hot summer days and tend to water in the evening when it cools off a bit.  That way the water won't evaporate to quickly.

Also, recognize the watering can change how crops taste.  For instance, onions that get lots of water are sweeter than those that get less.  This may change your watering tactic OR it may effect where you want to plant those crops.

6.  Feed your garden
Yep, that's right.  Your garden needs food too.  Study up on how you'd like to fertilize your garden.

The type of fertilizer you want to use will depend on the vegetables you plant and possibly your soil.  Your local extension office provides soil testing for a fee.  The test is helpful in knowing what your soil lacks or what it might have to much off.

Once your have planted your plants, you can also use products like Miracle Gro to feed your plants.

how to plant a garden
7.  Harvest
If you've chosen the best spot, planted and watered your garden well and feed your garden, you should get a good harvest.  I say "should", because there is always the exception to this.  

A success garden needs to be harvested frequently.  Don't wait to harvest crops until they are to big or to old.  No one really likes that 10 lb zucchini.

Go out daily to harvest.  If you have an over abundance, share with neighbors, friends and family.  Most people love fresh, local produce.  As long as it isn't a 10 lb zucchini.

Make zucchini bread instead.

I hope these tips helped you decide ho to plant a garden.  And I hope you are as excited as I am to see that garden grow!!

If you have other garden growing tips, leave some in the comments.

Easy steps to help you learn how to plant a garden successfully.


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