New American Funding Blog

Secrets to Starting a Garden

By Rosemarie Pirio   |  March 5, 2013

How to Start a garden

With spring just around the corner, officially starting March 20th, it’s a good time to consider the idea of starting your own garden. There are many reasons you might want to start a garden, such as the desire to eat healthier, save a bit of money and enjoy the nice sun. Plus nothing is more rewarding than sitting down to dinner and saying, this tomato was grown in my very own backyard!*

*Disclaimer: Starting and managing a garden takes time, money and patience. If you’re new, you will need to do some research, and hopefully this blog will get you started in the right direction. It will take money as tools are required. Patience is a necessity – not everything will grow as planned, but don’t get too let down, there’s always next year.

Let’s take a look at some of the basics to starting a garden.

Survey the Area and Make a Plan

Maybe you have a nice, big backyard, or just a small area that would be perfect for a container garden - either way it’s important to keep in mind that this will take time and effort. The best advice anyone could give is to start small. Plan so you can enjoy your time spent gardening, and also so you can control it!

If you plan to grow vegetables, a four by four plot of land will do the trick; for flowers you will need to dig the beds. If the plot of land is hard to come by, as stated earlier, a container garden or two will more than suffice to get you going. Containers can also be used to supplement a traditional garden.

Now it’s time to think and assess the land. Figure out which areas get the most sun, and for how long, and likewise for shade. Avoid planting near gutters as a heavy rain might drown the plants. Drainage is also key; plant where the plants can release water. Not sure where to start? If grass or weeds are already naturally growing, clear that space and go for it.

Do you live in an area that has abundant wildlife? Gofers, rabbits or raccoons? You might consider putting a fence up around your garden to protect your treasures (or get a BB gun). Think ahead and do this before the critters start frolicking to your garden.

Prep the Soil

Part of surveying the land is learning your dirt. Get friendly with your dirt; you’re going to be playing in it. The best garden soil has the right balance of clay, sand and silt. Most soil can be fertile with the right ingredients. Determine how much organic material you’ll need to make your soil fertile; you may need to add some compost, mulch or even fertilizer to reach this point. You want to feed your plants the nutrients they need. If you’re unsure of what to look for, don’t be afraid to visit your local gardening center and ask some questions.

Choose your plants wisely

Surveying your land ahead of time will help you choose which plants will thrive best in your garden. It’s no easy feat to select the right plants as there are so many to choose from, but at least now you know a thing or two about your soil and the sun exposure of the garden area. Do some research to find out what grows well in your local climate to help narrow down the options. Now think, what do you want to grow?

Vegetables require lots of sunlight, at least a full eight hours every day. Flowers on the other hand have different sun exposure needs depending on their type. If you have lots of shade, no need to worry, you can find plants that will happily grow in the shade.

Plants are usually labeled with their sun exposure requirements. Some typical standards for determining sun exposure include: full sun, partial sun, partial shade, dappled sun and full shade.

Most importantly, buy healthy plants! Don’t buy a plant that looks diseased, wilted or discolored.

Purchase tools of the trade

There are a million tools that you can buy to help you with your garden adventures, but don’t just go on a shopping spree and kill your wallet. Start with some basics that every green thumb should have: a spade, garden fork, soaking hose, hoe and weeder. Once you figure out the tools you like to use most, go ahead and invest a bit more by purchasing the best you can afford. Good tools will last you longer and will be more comfortable to use.

Please share with your friends and other fellow green thumbs!


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