As the world faces economic woes, individuals and families are doing their part to lighten the fiscal load. Grocery shopping puts a big dent into the budget and with soaring prices, opting to start a garden gets people back to nature. There have been surveys and articles written concerning the cost of gardening versus buying, but beyond the cost is knowing exactly what you’re putting on the table. If you’re a first-time gardener, getting started may seem daunting. You will have trials, tribulations, and triumphs. You will get dirt beneath your fingernails, a sore back, and joy from watching seedlings sprout.
My brother and his wife, Bill & Judy, are starting a garden from scratch. Follow along as I give weekly updates sharing with you building raised beds and how their garden grows.
Location, Location, Location
Let’s start with the location. A successful garden begins with a location conducive to growing. Your garden needs:
- A level location.
- At least six hours of sun each day.
- Well-drained area. Plants with their feet wet tend to wither and turn yellow.
- Rich soil.
- A handy water supply.
- As weed-free as possible. Do not to resort to using pesticides or herbicides to kill weeds, instead find a location well away from existing weeds. Remove sod before planting seeds and plants.
Preparing the Garden Location
Before you can plant, you need to layout your garden. Decide how large you want it to be. Will you build raise beds or add amenities to your existing soil? Take a sample of soil to your county’s Cooperative Extension office. You can find the closest Cooperative Extension office to you by using this site.
Go the do-it-yourself route with a soil testing kit from a garden center.
After testing the soil, you’ll receive a printout of the composition of your soil and what you need to do to make it fertile and ready for planting.
How your garden looks is up to you. Most vegetables gardens are rectangular and lined with rows of vegetables. There’s the four square layout with paths running between beds, the three sister method of planting corn, beans, and squash, and whatever shape and size suits you and your yard.
Bill & Judy’s Garden
Bill & Judy decided on raised beds. After choosing the best location that met all the criteria, they measured out four rectangles using string and sticks. A can of orange paint marked the grass providing a guide for digging.
Once all four beds were marked off and the soil dry enough, Bill & Judy took turns tilling the ground. You may opt to spade off the top sod first and then till the soil. Once the soil was turned over, they plucked out grass and allowed the soil to dry.