Start Your Own Home Garden: A Beginner’s Guide
There’s no time like the present to start a garden at home. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have the acreage for it, too — some of the best yields can come from simple urban balcony or deck setups.
However, whether it’s a pocket garden or something bigger, the commitment to maintain and grow a home garden should always be there. There’s definitely work involved to keep things growing and thriving in your garden.
But don’t be discouraged because there are uncomplicated steps to becoming a successful home gardener. Consider this your beginner’s guide to domesticated gardening.
Quick Checklist of Home Garden Tools and Equipment
Before we launch into the actual steps to starting a home garden, you’ll be needing a checklist of some essential gardening tools and accessories. You won’t need a shed full of professional gardening equipment; just some choice ones you can use over and over.
A lot will depend on how big your planned garden will be and the stuff you’ll be planting and growing. But the following should keep you covered before you need to add special tools to your checklist:
✔ Watering can for smaller gardens that don’t require a garden hose
✔ Garden hose for bigger gardens to soak new plants and encourage growth
✔ Nozzle hose head to reach higher and farther plants and foliage
✔ Spade to help spread dirt around evenly
✔ Gardening gloves to protect your hands from thorns and poisonous plants
✔ Rake to clear dead leaves, grass, and weeds
✔ Pruning shears to trim overgrown shrubs and branches
✔ Wheelbarrow to move soil, compost, and mulch to different places in your garden
✔ Rust-proof bucket to keep tools in and for gathering weeds and waste while gardening
✔ Pots of different sizes for repotting and propagating plants
✔ Garden stakes for vines to climb and to support fragile seedlings
✔ Garden fence to keep wildlife and intruders out.
If you’re handy and creative, you won’t need to buy all of the items in this checklist. Some of them could also serve multiple purposes or be recycled from things you already have at home.
7 Easy Tips To Start Your Own Home Garden
Gardening should be a relaxing activity, not a stressful one. With that in mind, we put together this guide to underline that it doesn’t have to be a frustrating experience.
Before planting anything, understand that you’re going to be dealing with living things that have needs. It is up to you as a home gardener to provide these needs, then reap the rewards that come with them.
Essentially, you’ll be needing fertile soil, sufficient sunlight, water, and the right location and temperature. While it seems initially daunting, remember that lots of plants thrive even when they’re left mostly to their own devices because of the right combination of basic needs.
Of course, there’s a need to rid your potential gardening space of weeds, debris, and other hostile creatures and conditions. In a previous post, we discussed how to deal with common household pests like termites, ants, and wildlife that could wreak havoc on your garden and its peripherals.
In the next sections, we’ve detailed some basic steps you’ll need to start a home garden. We hope that you’ll find these steps handy and helpful for your beginner’s green thumb.
1. Evaluate Your Dedication and Commitment to Gardening
While this isn’t considered a tangible step, it’s nevertheless important for the success of your future garden. Any half-hearted activity will often result in neglect, frustration, or disappointment.
This is also when you can involve your family members or other people living in your house if you decide to start home gardening. Some of them might prefer manicured yards or landscaping instead, so it’s best to get a vote on it.
It’s also practical to assess if it’s going to be more of a hobby than a regular part of your lifestyle. The good news is that there are plants that are hardy enough to withstand the busiest of schedules and need only the occasional watering or tending.
Keeping your eyes on the prize is one way to gauge if home gardening is your cup of tea. If you’re thinking of growing your own herbs, fruits, or vegetables, then harvesting them should be a rewarding experience.
And if you have your own flower garden, you won’t have to constantly rely on flower delivery services to spruce up your home or send fresh blooms on special occasions!
Make a pros and cons list of what gardening can contribute to your life and what it can subtract from it. Then weigh them carefully before deciding if it’s really the right (garden) path for you.
2. Decide What You Want to Plant and Grow
Do you envision having colourful blooms in front of your home or a thriving vegetable garden at the back of it? Whatever you decide on will depend a lot on your preferences, lifestyle, and several other factors.
For starters, if you don’t eat certain vegetables or crops, then it doesn’t make sense to plant them (unless you want to sell or donate them to food banks). You’ll also need to do some research about crop zones and frost periods to be prepared.
The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs site has a handy guide on climate zones and planting dates for vegetables in the region. It also gives vital information on the average number of calendar dates from planting to harvesting.
The same holds true for purely aesthetic gardening reasons. Some gardeners choose to plant blooms by colour, hardiness, maintenance, and how well they complement their homes and add curb appeal.
And don’t neglect the fun part of gardening at this stage! Gardening is a pretty straightforward task that thrives on routine, but you can always design or lay it out in such a way as to make it uniquely yours.
3. Choose the Best Location For Your Garden
Consider yourself lucky if you’ve moved into a house with a bare spot for a garden. Some domestic gardeners have to get professional tree removal services in Ottawa to get obstructive trees and shrubs cleared for garden beds and plots.
If you’re planning a vegetable or fruit garden, you’ll need to plant them somewhere where there are at least five hours of unfiltered sunlight per day. Herbs, root crops, and some greens like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, and garden cress can be grown in partial or full shade, according to The Spruce.
It’s also practical to keep your garden in full view from your home. When you can see it from a kitchen window or your living room, you’ll notice if they’re doing well or wilting better than if your garden is out of sight and mind.
And if you don’t have space outdoors for one, you can make full use of your balcony, patio, or even kitchen ledges for a pocket garden. Good Housekeeping has creative tips on making full use of pocket garden spaces like lattice walls, fence planters, and square foot gardening.
4. Test and Prep Your Soil
You’ll need to know if your soil is fertile enough to actually grow plants. If you don’t know where to start, you can get the services of the best lawn care companies in Ottawa to evaluate and aerate your soil where it’s needed.
Take a look if your soil looks compacted, dried up, or solidified. This means it isn’t getting as much air as it needs and requires aeration to loosen it up while allowing space for roots to grow and moisture to seep through.
Consider getting a DIY soil analysis kit to test your soil for its pH and if there are contaminants present. It can also help you detect the levels of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium which will serve as fertilizers for your plants.
Your soil conditions can help you narrow down (or broaden) the list of plants you want to grow in your garden. But you can always augment what you have with potting soil, mulch, compost, and other organic materials to make it as friendly to plants as possible.
5. Select Your Seeds and Seedlings
Once you’re confident enough to start gardening, you can start saving seeds, pits, and cuttings to propagate them and make them grow roots. You can also get seed packs and seedlings from the best nursery centres in Ottawa along with other gardening tools and services.
When purchasing seeds, consider nurseries that sell plants according to their customer’s lifestyles and preferences. They can help you choose air-purifying, pet-friendly, low maintenance, and other types of plants.
You can also attend seed swaps in your area so you can trade seeds you’ve always wanted with those you have an abundance of. This will also give you the opportunity to ask other domestic gardeners about gardening concerns and tips.
If you think you’ll need to grow some plants inside, choose seeds and seedlings that are capable of being indoor plants. Gardening doesn’t have to be a purely outdoor activity, but you’ll need to match the kind of plants with the kind of circumstances you have for growing them.
Seedlings demand more attention even though they’ve gotten a “head start” at growing compared to seeds. But they’re perfect for pocket gardens and those with limited outdoor garden spaces though they require careful repotting and watering.
6. Plant and Nurture Your Home Garden
Your seeds and seedlings may start out as tiny things, but bear in mind that they can grow tall and wide pretty quickly. With that in mind, you’ll need to space your garden beds so there’s room to grow for each plant.
Buy pots that are appropriately sized for your seedlings and future plants. Too-big plants that are in small containers can cause tangled roots and might shock the plant once you transplant it to a bigger pot.
Create a seed starting calendar or download an app that helps you keep track of when you planted something and when you can expect to repot or transplant it.
Luckily, most seed packets already come with planting instructions and care so it’s just a matter of following them. But for seeds, it’s ideal to plant them thrice as deep as their diameter for enough space to grow.
Don’t plant tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and others that thrive in heat when there’s still a danger of frost. Wait for sunnier weather before you do and you’ll have a healthier harvest.
7. Harvest and Maintain Your Garden
After some time, you’ll get an idea of which gardening activities work and which ones need improvement. Your garden’s yield can show which plants bore healthy fruit or blooms, and which ones need a better or different approach.
As one of the entries in our post on our guide to home maintenance states, you can always turn to professionals to make your visions of the perfect garden come true. Consider it an investment for upping the quality of your life (and learning from your mistakes).
And if you need help with composting and other organic gardening tips, there’s a surprising but practical place to look for resources and help. Some of the best waste management companies in Ottawa have a green approach that includes environmental services and education on these topics.
Aside from adding curb appeal, a beautiful and functioning garden can add value to your home and enhance your daily life. This is especially true when it’s time to harvest fruits and vegetables or pluck gorgeous blooms to decorate your home.