The last frost has passed for most of us and summer is just around the corner! If you haven’t already done so, now is a great time to start planting for the growing season. And if you’re a first-timer, here’s what you need to know to get started growing your own summer garden.
1. Take stock & get organized
Pull out all the gardening supplies you have before heading to the nursery. You can do a lot with a pair of good gloves, a trowel, a hand rake, a shovel, and a pair of shears, but here is a longer list of items you may want to consider having in your gardening shed. This is also a good time to clean anything you already have, and sharpen tools like shears and clippers.
2. Decide what you want to plant
Make a list of the vegetables that you and your family will enjoy, and the flowers that you’d like to grow. Then it’s always a good idea to take your list to a local nursery and ask the professionals about what grows best in your area! In general it’s best to start small. Also, remember that some plants, like tomatoes and zucchinis, produce all season, while others, like carrots, produce only once.
3. Determine how much space you need
If you only have access to a small space for gardening, this may instead be step 2! But if you have the luxury of space, you can decide how much ground you need to prepare for planting. (If needed, there are also many plants you can grow in various containers, and building your own raised beds is often a great option if the soil in your gardening space isn’t very good quality.) When you’re purchasing your seeds or seedlings, take note on how much space and depth each plant prefers.
4. Survey the light, water, and soil
Take note of how much sun reaches each part of your gardening space throughout the day, and adjust your layout accordingly. Remember that some plants, including most warm-season vegetables, prefer full sun, and others, like lettuce and spinach, can do without.
For most home gardens, it isn’t necessary to install drip irrigation, though you may choose to! It is important to have a plan for watering your garden though, as mostly all warm-season vegetables are not drought-tolerant and will require a few days a week, and more during dry spells. The closer your garden is to a source of water, the easier it will be to keep them from getting too thirsty!
And soil health is one of the most, if not the most, crucial aspect of your garden’s success. Moist, well-drained soil rich in organic matter, such as compost or peat moss, is generally best. If you’ve had trouble growing in your garden, a pH test may also be helpful to inform how you may want to enrich your soil.
5. Prepare the soil
Clear out any sod, weeds, or debris, and spread a 4-inch layer of compost over soil. Loosen the soil to a depth of 10 to 12 inches with a spading fork or a tiller. Smooth the surface and avoid stepping on the soil once it’s been aerated.
6. Get planting!
Enjoy your time outdoors gardening, and the harvest you’ll reap from your effort! Here are some of our favorite garden-to-table recipes to get you inspired: