There are really a lot of ways to start a garden. Search online for things like straw bale gardens, lasagna gardening, square foot gardening, container gardening, edible gardening, no=till gardening etc. I will cover in-ground, raised bed, edible landscaping and container gardening. These are methods I am familiar with,
If you have a plot, small or late in the backyard that gets 8 hours of sun and is accessible to water, you can start there. Clear the ground of weeds and or grass. an easy, but time-consuming way, is to lay newspaper or cardboard on the ground cover and let the weeds smother. It does take some time to accomplish this. As someone who didn’t take the step to remove the grass in the area I wanted to put a garden in (I just rototilled it in), I advise you to not skip this step. Trust me.
Dig up the area, using a shovel, rototiller or tractor. (We wish we had a tractor!) Dig as far down as you can go, 12″ or more if possible. Roots on some veggies need to go down quite a ways. Apply organic fertilizer such as composted cow manure, horse manure or compost (if it smells like manure, it isn’t composted enough, it should look and smell like dirt). You can use bags from the store or ask your local farmer or landscape supply company. Work it in thoroughly. Smooth it out with a rake. Lettuce, carrots, beets should be planted in a row, squash and melons do best in mounds, corn does best in large blocks etc. Read the backs of your seed packets or search online for the particular vegetables ou want to grow.
Raised Bed Gardening
For me, this is far superior to in-ground gardens. We have extremely rocky soil and it was a nightmare for us. We went to raised bed gardening in our entire plot. We still tilled where we placed our beds so as not to develop a hardpan situation when we brought in our three-way mix.
You can use a lot of things for building the beds. Wood is very pretty but you will have to replace it sooner than later. You don’t want to use railroad ties or other treated lumber since you don’t want it to leach into the soil. We used standard cinder blocks and capped them with pavers. Worked very well and we won’t have to replace them, plus, we have something to sit on as we weed, and the soil warms up faster in the spring. the pavers keep the weeds from growing up but if you were so inclined you could -plant flowers in the pockets. We laid down a weed block between the rows, followed by bark. Eventually, weeds will sprout but they are a lot easier to pull out! Fill with a three-way mix from a reputable supply company. Depending on the size (make them no wider than 4′ for ease of planting and weeding, you can comfortably reach from either side) and quantity of beds, you will need yards of this stuff.
Every year, we clean up the dead plants and spread mulched leaves from our trees in the fall and let it sit over the winter. In the spring, we put an average of two large wheelbarrows of composted horse manure on them and my honey turns it over with a shovel. That is the only time, human feet step into the beds. We avoid walking in them when possible to keep from compressing the soil. My beds are all 4′ across and vary in length.
This is my motto: “If you take of the soil, it will feed your plants”. I almost NEVER have to add additional fertilizers.
The last thing I want to talk about is Edible Gardening. Vegetables can be pretty. Lettuce comes in many colors and shapes and makes excellent fillers. You can plant them in your flower beds amongst the perennial and shrubs. Just ensure that they are not shaded out by other plants.
My next post will discuss container plantings and then we will cover veggies that are perfect for them.