Mikles Family Farm

Fixing up the Farmhouse

Tips for Starting a Garden

by miklesfamilyfarm on January 20, 2017

I regularly get emails from people asking how they should start planning their own home garden, so I thought I would take some time today to write a quick post about what I did when planning my first backyard gardening plot. With a little bit of work, you can easily make an awesome garden plot of your own.

backyard gardenFirst thing you want to to do when it comes to starting a backyard garden is plan it out. This may seem obvious, but many people skip this step and jump right to tearing up their grass to make a dirt patch. I urge you not to do this, and instead take a little time to draw up a plan for what you want your garden to look like. What are you trying to plant? If vegetables, how many different types, and how many of each? Will you need something for climbing plants to grow on? Do you want to fence in your garden? Are you planning to build raised garden boxes? These are some questions you should ask yourself before you start designing your garden.

For smaller backyards I recommend building some simple garden boxes, you can build these at varying heights to make a visually appealing garden. These work especially well for flowers and smaller vegetables like peppers. If you’re building the boxes for yourself you can even add irrigation hose that runs through the dirt so you can hook your hose up and soak the soil without any effort. If you leave it hooked up it can be as easy as turning the outside faucet knob. To figure out the size of your boxes, it’s a good idea to figure out what kinds of plants you plan to grow in the boxes, and look up how much space each of those plants will need to grow. Multiple boxes can be a good way to separate plants that need different amounts of water, fertilizer, or soil types.

box gardenIf you don’t want to bother with building garden boxes, you can measure out an area large enough to grow whatever you’re trying to grow in your backyard. I suggest that you measure and mark this space to make sure your garden is square and looks nice. Once everything is measured and marked, you can get to work tearing out the grass or any weeds that might be growing in your garden area. Get down to the bare dirt so you have a nice clean spot for planting. It’s a good idea to put some kind of barrier around the outside of your garden, preferably something that cuts through the dirt to separate the area from the rest of your yard. This will keep grass and other weeds from reclaiming your gardening area.

For a vegetable garden, you should make sure you have nice straight rows or areas where you can plant clusters of things like cucumbers, squash, melons, and pumpkins. If you’re growing anything that climbs like peas or beans, you should erect a section of fence for them at the western side of your garden. This will keep them from shading anything next to them as the sun rises.

For easy watering, I like to have designated sprinkler areas in my garden , if you set these up before hand and run your hoses around the garden to the faucet, watering will be much easier overall. For larger plots, you can run several sprinklers on a splitter that hooks up to your outdoor faucet. I recommend watering at least once a day, unless it’s raining or the ground is already wet from rain.

Mostly starting your own backyard garden comes down to planning. You want to make sure to do this planning first, so you can be sure that you have enough room for all of the plants you want to grow. Otherwise you’ll do all this hard work and get to the planting stage and realize that you don’t have enough room for everything.

flowerbed with barrierIf this is your first garden, it’s a good idea to go to your local farmer’s market and try to pick up some starter plants. Many farmers will have small plants of different varieties that you can buy for a few dollars and replant in your garden. These plants are a great idea, because you don’t have to constantly worry about getting seedlings to grow. Most of these starter plants are very hearty because they’ve been grown by a professional. This is especially good for things like peppers that require a greenhouse to get started. There’s always debate whether you should start from seed or buy starter plants, but I find starter plants are a great way to start your first gardening project.

I hope these tips are helpful and get you on your way to starting your own fabulous backyard garden. If you have more specific questions about your particular backyard or a garden setup you want to try, leave a comment and I will be happy to get back to you with further details.

Have fun gardening!

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