If you are ready to plant a garden of your own this summer, and save money on fresh vegetables, how do you begin?
Starting a garden from scratch involves some advanced planning, from asking yourself what vegetables you want to eat to what kind of fertilizer you should use.
What you want to plant will dictate the size of your garden, Blair Garden Center owner Jon Hutchson said. He said to be sure and allow plenty of room for your garden to allow the plants to grow properly and make sure it’s well-drained with no low, soggy spots.
“You want a place with plenty of light,” Hutchson said, and full sun is best.
If your area is currently covered in grass, once the grass greens up, mark off the area for the garden and spray it with Roundup, he said. If you till up live grass, pieces of grass are still left in the soil.
It might be a good idea to get a soil test, which you can do yourself with a kit, to test the pH level. That dictates the fertilizer you want to put on the soil and how much.
Plan how you will protect your garden from Peter Rabbit. The main pests in this area are rabbits and mice, and sometimes deer, Hutchson said.
Hutchson said 2-foot-high chicken wire can help protect your garden. He recommended it goes up first before the plants go in the ground, to avoid stepping on young plants when putting up a fence later. Pest repellants are also available.
Other considerations for starting your garden include whether to buy plants or start them from seed. If you are using seeds, you can start some plants ahead of time indoors. Follow directions on seed packets for when to start the plants and when they should go in the ground.
Allow plenty of room between the plants because they will require much more room to develop properly and it will help them fight off disease.
Plan well for how much you are willing to undertake.
“Don’t try too big of a garden and get overwhelmed and not enjoy it,” Hutchson said.
“One of the big problems, especially for young gardeners, is they are overwhelmed by weeds in the middle of summer,” Hutchson said. “To avoid that, think of putting down a weed preventer.”
Mulches of non-treated grass clippings, straw or weed fabric can save lots of time weeding in the hot sun. He said to wait until everything is just sprouted, weed thoroughly and then put down the weed preventer.
Not only does the mulch keep the weeds down, but it keeps the ground evenly moist around the plants, he said.
Those who are not sure they want a big garden, but still want to pick their favorite homegrown produce, can try a raised garden bed.
“Where we’re seeing the biggest interest is the raised gardens,” Hutchson said, where you can still produce a lot in a small area. These can be built on a patio or in the yard.
For example, 2-by-6-foot boards can be used to build a rectangle rising 2 feet from the ground. Fill it to the top with a rich soil compost and plant your favorites.