Knowing the source of your food is a big concern for many people, but you can bypass the unknown by creating your own garden at home. It may seem like a hard, time consuming task but it’s simple to start. There are numerous resources for gardening. Online, books, and even friends and neighbors.

But you can get started fairly quickly. Keep it small at first. You’ll gain experience and won’t be burdened and overworked. The benefits of home gardening are saving money, knowing what went into making your produce, and much more. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you need help.

Steps to start

Location Location Location

In addition to considering sunlight, a garden should be in a visible area in your lawn. If it’s out of sight, it’s likely out of mind. You’ll need to spend regular time on your garden and you don’t want to forget about it.

But sunlight is still important. Make sure to observe your lawn as the sunlight will change throughout the day. Most fruits, vegetables, and herbs need at least 6 hours of sunlight. You should orientate the garden north to south. An east to west direction usually results in plants shading each other.

Keep water in mind. You don’t want to be lugging water if a hose won’t reach every time you’re plants are thirsty. You can tell if they need water by pushing a finger into the dirt 1 inch (approximately 1 knuckle deep). If it’s dry, it’s time to water.

Soil and container

It’s an easy step to miss, but your soil might be the most important part of your garden. It’s the source of all the plant’s nutrients to grow and produce fruits and vegetables. Whether your adding to your lawn’s top soil, making a raised bed, or growing in pots, you need to use nutrient rich soil. The most common example is Miracle Gro, with numerous products to get the novice started. You could also visit a local nursery for other types of soils and fertilizers.

The size, shape, and draining capabilities of your garden should also be considered. It needs to be large enough to support the plant you’re growing as well as it’s root system. If you’ve had a wet spring and summer like we’ve had, it needs to be able to shed excess water. Pots and properly made beds should accomplish this.

Many beginners elect to go with a 10 x 10 foot bed, but it’s okay to go smaller. Buying a bunch of pots up front can be expensive and a 10 x 10 is relatively easy to care for. Keeping it weed free and watered should yield more than an unkept 25 x 25 garden.

Selecting plants

You may be tempted to select the plants you like to eat but there are a few other factors to consider. While your taste buds may lead you make sure to research the “hardiness zone” and average frost dates for your area. These factors will keep your plants thriving through most of spring, summer, and fall.

Hardiness is the standard by which gardeners can determine which plants are most likely to thrive at a location. The score for Southeast Kansas is zone 6b. That means you can likely grow a plant with a rating up to 6.

Even with hardiness, frost can harm budding plants and nip your garden in the bud. Knowing your average last frost of spring and first frost of fall can help you plan a time table for your garden. For SEK that tends to be April 1st – 15th and October 16th – 31st.

Finally, I do want to stress growing plants you enjoy eating. That’s the point of your garden in the first place. You may also want to consider the differences between plants. Tomatoes, peppers, and squash continue producing throughout the season while plants like carrots, corn, and radishes can only be harvested once.

Go for it!

You’ll never know if you have a green thumb if you don’t try. And if your think you have a brown thumb, you may be underestimating your ability to learn. Start out small and remember to make smart goals. Good luck and happy gardening.

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