The popularity of backyard gardening has increased tremendously in recent years. As people become more concerned with the foods they put in their bodies, there has been a noticeable surge in spring planting in hopes of a healthy home harvest come fall.
When you grow your own food, you become a part of the process itself and forge a deeper connection with the nourishment you offer your body. The carrot you grew yourself in your backyard is much more than just a carrot, it is an intricate part of nature – something you will undoubtedly see when you start your very own backyard garden.
That $3 tomato plant you pick up at the garden supply store or farmer’s market can provide pounds of produce come harvest. That pack of spinach seeds will provide for your very own home-grown greens that can be added to anything from juices to stir frys to fresh summer salads.
Growing a garden in your backyard is easy when you know the basics. Keep the following things in mind when planting your first backyard garden and you’ll soon see just how rewarding the process can be.
6 Things to Keep in Mind When Planting Your Garden
Decide What You’re Going to Plant
When first starting a backyard garden, you’re going to encounter many different plant options. Many new gardeners have the tendency to get overwhelmed by the plethora of options and go a little overboard. Who knew there were so many varieties of tomatoes?
The key to having a successful backyard garden is to plant what you like to eat. Does your family love salsa? Grow a variety of tomatoes and your favorite peppers. Are you a big fan of making fresh juices at home? You’ll save tons of money when you grow your own cucumbers, spinach, beets, kale, and carrots.
It’s good to keep in mind that tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and squash all continue to grow throughout the season. You don’t want to plant more than you can use and end up wasting precious produce.
Determine How Much Space You’ll Need
How much food do you want to plant and how much space do you really have? If you’re fortunate enough to have plenty of good land for gardening, then you’re one of the lucky few. Though most of us don’t live on an acre of land in a lush green valley, a garden can be started anywhere. You can even start a garden on the balcony of an apartment building! Most vegetables and herbs can be grown in pots or other different containers if you don’t have an actual backyard with soil.
You can easily grow a bountiful harvest in a 10×10 foot space if you know what to plant, where to plant it, and how to get the optimal number of plants in the space you have to work with. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have a lot of space for gardening – with proper planning and care you can still grow a healthy, productive garden.
Find the Right Location
You’ve probably heard that location is everything – this timeless wisdom couldn’t be any more true than when it comes to planting a successful backyard garden. Most vegetables are going to need a lot of sun, so you’ll need to find a sunny location to ensure the health of your harvest.
You should try to find an area that gets at least six hours of sunlight a day. Twelve is optimal in most cases, but most plants can still thrive in only six hours of sunlight.
Good drainage is also fundamental. You’ll need to make sure the location you choose has adequate drainage and a water source close at hand. No one wants to lug buckets of water to the garden every day, so making sure a water source is close is key.
Plant What Grows Well Together
Good gardeners know a thing or two about what is known as “companion planting.” For example, carrots love tomatoes and planting them near each other will dramatically increase the health of each plant. Cucumbers thrive when they are planted next to radishes and sunflowers. If you love asparagus, plant it next to basil, parsley, carrots, and tomatoes.
There are certain plants that help repel insects and other harmful garden invaders. Marigolds work well to repel nematodes (a certain type of worm) and can help prevent deer from helping themselves to a tasty treat. Thorny bushes planted around the garden will help keep deer, raccoons, and other critters from destroying your crop.
Some plants will grow tall and provide shade for certain areas of the garden that would otherwise be prone to invasion from intruding noxious weeds. Just as there are plants that thrive together, there are also certain plants that spell certain death when planted next to each other. Do yourself a favor before you start your garden and find out what grows well together and what should you should plant on opposite ends of your plot.
Use Quality Soil & Fertilizer
If you want your plants to grow to be big, healthy, and nutritious, it is important that you invest in high quality soil and the right fertilizer. Organic soil and fertilizer are often the best choice and will allow you to grow your own affordable organic produce. Make sure to test the pH balance of your soil to gauge the alkalinity or acidity of your soil. Plants prefer different pH levels, so plan accordingly.
Choose to invest in high quality organic fertilizers. There are many different options to choose from, which allows you to find just what you need to help your plants get the vital nutrients they need at every stage of development. There are excellent organic fertilizers that will help your plants grow bigger and others that will encourage bigger blooms when it comes time to flower.
Quality soil that drains well and fertilizer that offers the nutrients your plants need are a must for any backyard garden. You will definitely see the difference in the quality of your plants when you provide them with proper soil and nutrition. Remember to plan ahead for the plants you wish to grow and research which materials you will need for the best possible results.
Give Your Plants the Water They Need
Your garden will perish without the proper amount of water. You don’t want to let plants get too dry, but you also don’t want to overwater them. Using the right amount of water is one of the keys to success. Each plant will thrive on a different amount of water, so be sure to become familiar with your plants’ preferred hydration level.
It’s no secret that our summers are getting warmer every year, often resulting in droughts that can threaten the health of your garden. Most vegetables are not drought tolerant, so they will need extra water during the hotter months of summer.
Watering in the morning and evening hours when the sun is not blazing overhead is highly recommended. This allows for the water to seep slowly into the soil instead of quickly evaporating. Your garden will thrive when it is watered with the rising and setting sun because it will be able to soak up the most moisture.
The Bottom Line
These gardening basics are enough to get you started on what can become a lifetime passion. Gardening is one of the best things you can do to promote the health of yourself and your family. It is a highly rewarding way to get in touch with nature, save money, and eat naturally.