How To Start A Garden

I’m excited to walk you through how to start a garden from scratch! We’ll talk location, creating space, deciding what to plant, and the rewards of growing your own food.

girl with tray of garden plants

We’ve had a garden almost everywhere our family has lived. Some have been large and some as small as a 4×4 raised bed. Some years have yielded more veggies than others but even when the harvest is small the time was well spent. Gardening is such a fulfilling experience. There’s something so special about getting your hands dirty, watching and waiting, and then picking your first ripe tomato or squash!

yellow squash and strawberry in hand

Maybe planting a garden is on your homemaking list this year! If so, I hope this information encourages you to start your own garden space even if it’s simply a planter filled with fresh basil. Just like the many other disciplines of homemaking, gardening and growing your own food is a great way to love your family well.

girls carrying basket from garden

Choosing the Best Location

I’ve recently learned of sun mapping. This is a smart way to plan for where your garden should go. Basically, you draw a quick sketch of your property and map out the amount of sun and shade each area gets at different times of the day. This post has more information if you’d like to learn more. The main requirement for a great garden is a location where you’ll have plenty of sun and good water drainage. Pro tip: It’s wonderful when your water hose reaches your garden! You’ll avoid lots of back and forth with heavy watering cans.

Creating Your Garden Space

You’ll need to decide what style of gardening is best for you. Will you till and plant directly in the ground? Build raised beds? Container garden? This will probably depend on the amount of space you have and where you live. Back home in North Carolina we planted in rows. We had amazing soil and weather, and plenty of land. However, here in middle Georgia our yard is literally rock hard and our space is more limited so we chose raised beds.

Raised beds are easy to build and fairly inexpensive. Maybe start small and add a new bed or two each year until you get a feel for how much space you’ll need. My husband and our girls put ours together pretty quickly and it was a fun project for them to do together.

girl using a drill to screw into wood

Deciding What to Grow

Most years my girls and I sit around the table together and we plan our garden. It’s so fun to gather some seed catalogs, blank paper, crayons, watercolor paints, and a snack as we dream up what we want to grow. We always include a few favorites and usually something new we’d like to try. Last year we added a small flower bed of zinnias we planted from seed and they provided beautiful fresh flowers all summer long!

When deciding what to grow there are a few things to consider.

  • Zone Map: You’ll want to find out what grows well in your area and when to plant it. Visit this site and enter your address to find your plant hardiness zone.
  • Amount: Don’t grow things you don’t like. Consider how much your family enjoys squash before planting 12 squash plants.
  • Start simple: Maybe your first year you grow a pizza garden or a salsa garden where you specifically plant tomatoes, peppers, garlic, and basil. This is a super fun idea for kids!
  • Don’t over do it: Remember that you’ll have to harvest everything you plant and eat it or preserve it fairly quickly in most cases.
girl painting at a table

In the End

After you plant and water it’s up to God to make it grow! I can tell you after several years that some plants do better than others. Some years there will be too much rain and some, too little. There will be garden pests and dogs who eat your okra. (True story.) You’ll sweat a lot and your back may hurt a little. Your nails will need extra attention and your knees will get dirty. BUT, I can also promise you that no matter the outcome, time spent outdoors cultivating the dirt is time well spent.

Tell me, what are your garden plans this year?

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