Have you ever set up a garden before? Chances are you landed here because you are looking for information on how to set up a garden. Great! Let’s dig in with some simple tips that every new and seasoned gardener should put into place.
There are many types of gardens but today we are talking about outside gardens. In-ground or raised-bed gardens for those who have the land and/or space to do them. These tips will really help those beginner gardeners out there.
Understand How Much Space a Plant Will Need
Whether you’re growing your food in containers, raised beds, or directly into the ground, you need to plan the amount of space the plants need so that your crop can flourish and your harvest be abundant.
Some people haphazardly sprinkle seeds into the ground, not taking into account how much room will be needed as that matures. Certain vegetables are going to take up much more room than others.
There are vegetables that will expand outwardly, while others are capable of climbing upwards. Even if it’s a vertical growing plant, you’ll want to make sure that anything growing near it isn’t overshadowed by it where it can’t get access to direct sunlight.
Knowing Your Seeds
Read all the directions on a seed packet before planting. You will want to know what the specifics are for each plant. For example, cabbage plants require a lot of space to grow in so that the heads can expand adequately. Each plant would need a couple of feet between others and rows might need to be three feet apart.
But if you’re growing cucumbers, they can use a cucumber trellis and grow upward. You have to be careful not to allow the towering vines to block out the sunlight of a plant growing nearby. So spacing would continue to be important.
Not only do you want to plan how far apart to plant each seed or seedling, but you also need to space the garden rows out as well. A good rule of thumb is to give each row three feet of space between every other row.
Are you one that can follow directions? Usually, when you buy a seed package for a particular vegetable, it will tell you how far apart to plant the seeds, such as 3 inches, and it will tell you how much space to give it. Take a yellow squash seed pack, for example.
It will tell you to plant the seeds one-half to one inch deep in groups of 6-8 seeds. Then it specifies that you need to space those groups three to four inches apart. After they sprout, you have to thin them to 2-3 plants in each group.
Plants that are Friendly
Now in some cases, you’ll want the plants to be situated next to each other, so that cross-pollination is easier. This would work for plants like corn, for example. It would still need about a foot between each plant to grow properly.
It’s not always just about allowing adequate space for the plant to expand or provide crops. In many cases, it’s a matter of maintaining rich soil. If you crowd your plants too close, it will deplete the nutrients in the soil, and your vegetable plants will suffer.
Maximize Your Garden Space Using Interplanting
As a gardener, it’s sometimes frustrating to plant crops where you only have a short window of food provisions. This is fine if you’re growing crops to can use or dehydrate for future use.
But you probably want to have a food source going at all times. One way to achieve this is to garden using the interplanting or intercropping strategy. This allows you to grow some slow-growing plants along with some faster-growing ones.
So while one is harvested more quickly, you know that after that harvest, your slower-growing one will later come to maturity.
There are different ways to do this. You can use the same garden space to achieve it you don’t have to have one area for fast-growing crops and another for slow-growing ones.
You can grow different speed growth plants in the same row, alternating the seeds and growing them side by side. In order to be successful with interplanting, you need to look at the time it takes for a seed to sprout and grow to maturity.
Pair them up the right way, which means taking into consideration the depth of the roots and the shade factor, too. Some plants like carrots will have deep roots, so those might go well with lettuce, which is shallow allowing them to share the space nicely.
Interplanting requires you to make sure that one tall growing plant can’t tower over a slower-growing one, blocking all sunlight that it needs. Some people interplant using food and pest repelling plants.
Crops at Different Times of the Growing Season
So the second crop wouldn’t be a food plant, necessarily, but one that repels pests to allow the food crop to grow without interference. This allows you to grow plants without having to use harmful pesticides on them.
The chemicals and scents in these crops keep pests away. There was one study done that showed how planting leeks in and among bean plants kept bean flies away from the crops due to the odor the leeks emitted.
There is also a strategy called trap cropping. The trap crop that’s interplanted with the food plant is attractive to pests, keeping them away from the food plant. You can put pesticides only on the trap plants, keeping the food plants clean and organic.
Make sure the two crops you plant together are compatible. Sometimes, one plant can affect the taste of another, making it turn bitter. You also need to know that if one of the two crops is not a food plant, it will mean less harvest for you, so always try to find a food seed to intercrop with.
Make Sure Your Vegetable Garden Has Good Drainage
Keeping your vegetable garden watered is just half the battle when it comes to ensuring the survival and thriving of your plants. Too much of a good thing can be damaging, and that includes hydration.
If the spot where you want to grow your vegetables is unable to drain off the excess water, then your plants will begin to suffer. Waterlogged garden beds, whether in the ground, raised beds or containers, will ruin the roots of your plants.
Garden Location and Soil – How to Set up a Garden
Make sure that the soil in which you want to grow your garden has the ability to drain properly. If it’s in an area where water pools during a rainy period, then that may not be the right spot to have your garden unless you prepare the garden bed for better draining.
Too Much Water
The roots of a waterlogged plant basically drown and can rot if not tended to carefully. This saturated soil will often harbor the growth of damaging fungal disease that could spell the end of your bountiful harvest dreams.
If you haven’t had any rain issues, one way you can check it is to simply fill a hole with water in your garden and see how well it drains out over the course of 24 hours. Also, check the type of soil that you’re using.
Clay or other thick soil can hold more water in it than other types. Sandy soil drains out more easily. You might need to create a special mix of soil types to find just the right balance.
Raised Beds and Containers
If you’re gardening in a raised bed or containers, then you can also use stones, rocks, gravel, or pebbles to assist in the drainage of water buildup. Put them on the bottom, below the soil, so that any excess water can pass through easily.
Make sure you’re giving your plants the right amount of water. Sometimes, you might be able to solve the problem by adjusting your watering schedule so that your plants aren’t flooded with too much hydration.
You want a system in place that provides just enough water for your vegetable plants to survive when it’s dry outside, but not so much that it actually prevents your plant from growing successfully.
Don’t Forget About Fertilizer
Even if you have taken the time to check the quality of your garden soil or choose to pack your planters with high-quality filler, your plants still need the extra support of a nutrient-rich fertilizer to reach their full potential. Fertilizer comes in all shapes and sizes, from affordable (yet often unnatural) fertilizers that you can purchase from nearly any high street store to more specialist blends like dedicated tree fertilizer or rose bush fertilizer. Opting for a specialist blend is the best way to go, as this way you can have faith that your plants are receiving the vitamins and minerals they require to thrive!
If you’re planning on creating a natural garden and want to steer clear of ready-made fertilizer, do not fret. You can easily formulate your own fertilizer at home using the most earth-friendly ingredients available. One of the best natural methods that you can utilize to make your own organic fertilizer is by composting, as you can put all of your organic food waste into a container to ferment and break down. This acts as a wonderful fertilizer for your plants, giving them that extra little boost they need to flourish like never before.
Don’t Let Tall Plants Overshadow Your Other Vegetables
In addition to water, the amount of sun your vegetable plants receive is a leading factor in whether or not they will survive and thrive. Before you plant your garden, you will need to map out the hours of sunlight the spot receives so that you know whether to plant vegetables that need full or partial sun there.
But sometimes, you’ll pick a spot that gets plenty of natural sunlight and accidentally sabotage your crops by planting the vegetables that tower over the smaller ones and block out the sun they need.
Keep in Mind What Plants Grow Tall
Whenever you plan your crops, you have to look at the back of the seed pack to see how big each plant will grow. It also might be a determining factor to see how fast they will grow.
You might have a plant that grows tall but takes longer to grow and a smaller plant that goes to maturity and is ready to harvest before the shaded area is even a problem. But the best way to plan is to organize the vegetable rows in an order where no tall plant is able to soak up the sun a smaller plant needs.
Some plants may not seem high but require a trellis or stake to grow on, which means they’ll be climbing and creating shade to other plants. This would include things like sugar snap peas, snow peas, cucumbers, beans, and tomatoes.
Plants that Grow Tall
Eggplants and pepper plants also grow upright to 3-4 feet. Going a bit smaller would be the plants that grow wider than tall, such as collards, kales, cabbages, and so on. The smallest crops needing sunshine would be the root vegetables like beets and carrots and things low to the ground like lettuce.
When you arrange your vegetable garden, make sure each plant has enough sun to allow for photosynthesis. The plants should be able to soak up 6-8 hours of full sun per day.
If you choose where the garden goes, try to plant in a space where the morning sun is providing the light for your crop and not the sweltering afternoon sun, which can wilt plants.
There are some vegetables and herbs you can grow in the shade, so you might not have to worry about taller plants blocking out any sunlight if you have any of those. Just make sure each plant gets the right amount of sun it needs to produce a harvest for you.
Final Thought on How to Set up a Garden
While gardening might seem a bit overwhelming at first, it really isn’t rocket science. Following great tips on how to set up a garden is always the first start. Knowing what vegetables are easy to grow and sticking with those at first. Digging in and planting a huge garden isn’t for a beginner, so start slow and small.