by Denise Grant
If you plan on gardening for the first time here are a few ideas to help make your garden experience fun and successful.
Flowers and herbs are easier to grow than vegetables. Why? They have fewer insect problems, usually need less watering and you aren’t getting used to a harvesting schedule.
But vegetables are not hard to grow, you just need to watch for insects and harvest the crops when they are ready. For the first garden it's usually better to only grow a few vegetables and select the ones you like the best. It’s said one of the biggest garden mistakes is planting too much. The garden becomes overwhelming.
Growing a combination of flowers, herbs and vegetables together creates an interesting garden and they help each other. For example many flowers and herbs control insects or deter small animals like rabbits.
The soil in your garden is one of the most important considerations in a garden. You need soil with nutrients and that will drain well. You can have your soil tested at many garden centers or at the local extension office.
Your garden location will be determined by soil conditions and available light. You need 6 to 8 hours of sunlight for most plants.
Have your water source close to your garden so that you are not carrying water or using miles of water hoses. You may even want to place a rain barrel near the garden for easy watering.
Using a ground cover will help the soil to stay cooler and hold moisture in the ground, cutting back on watering use and time. It also helps cut down on weeds.
You may want to consider container gardens so that they are close to the house or even on the porch or patio for easy care and harvesting.
Buying seedlings may be the easier route the first time you have a garden. Just check to make sure they are healthy and insect free.
Read the back of your seed packets for growing and harvesting information. You will find the proper times to plant the seeds, how deep and how long it takes the plant to grow. You can also get quality gardening advice from your local Extension Office or Master Gardeners.
Remove any unhealthy or sick plants from the garden or planters. They will attract insects that could spread disease.
Talk to local gardeners. They like to share tips and will often share a spare plant or two. And if you have a neighbor that would like to do a combination garden you will both learn form the experience.
If your gardening space is limited, use can use windowsill boxes, vertical gardening techniques, containers and pots, hanging baskets or intensive gardening plans.
These are only a few ideas that will help create a successful garden. But the most important part of gardening is to enjoy the outdoors and your garden area.
photo by Chris Lareau. Copyright 2010
Denise Grant practices horticulture on the Conewango Creek in Northern Pennsylvania.
Article is copyright 2011 by Denise Grant. You can follow her adventures at her blog, called The Gardener's Rake.