Starting anything new can be a tricky thing, and that is even truer with gardening. Today, we are going to map out a plan for starting a garden from scratch so you can begin growing fresh organic food your family will love.
How to start a backyard garden without getting overwhelmed or stuck. Don’t forget to grab the FREE Starting a Garden From Scratch Checklist below!
Growing food is a large part of homesteading because it puts you in control of the quality of the food you and your family eats. The more you can grow or raise, the less you have to buy at the store, and luckily, starting a garden is easier than you may think.
Starting a Garden From Scratch
We are going to give you a step-by-step plan on everything you need to know for starting a garden from scratch. Be sure to grab your FREE Starting From Scratch Checklist below!
Step #1. Location of Your New Garden
First things first, you need to decide where your garden will be located. There are a few key factors to keep in mind when choosing the perfect spot for your garden:
- Water source
- Soil Quality
When looking for the best spot for your new garden, be sure to keep these three components in mind.
Garden Soil Prep Resources:
Sunlight is essential for plant growth, so it’s important to pick an area that gets plenty of sun. Take note of any trees or buildings that may block the sun throughout the day, and avoid those areas if possible.
Action Plan: Walk your property and determine which areas get 6-8 hours of sun each day. You will want to check your target area a few times a day so you can get a more accurate look at the sun.
Next, you need to consider your water source. You will want an area near a spigot or another water source so you can easily water your plants when needed. If you don’t have a convenient water source nearby, consider investing in a hose, rain barrel, or irrigation system.
Action Plan: Determine if your spot is close to water or if you will need to come up with a source. Write down a budget if you are planning on setting up a system for your future garden.
Soil quality can make or break your garden, so choosing an area with good soil is crucial. Look for loose, well-drained soil that is rich in nutrients. If you are unsure about the quality of your soil, you can always test it yourself or have it tested at a local nursery or university extension office. If your soil is poor, you can improve it by adding compost or other organic matter.
Action Plan: Test a sample of soil using a pH home test to determine where you are. Make a note, along with a plan for amending any soil that is less than optimal.
Soil pH Test Kits:
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When starting a new garden from scratch, be sure to consider convenience when choosing the location. You will want an area that is easily accessible and close to your home so you can quickly tend to your plants. This will also make it easier to harvest your crops when they are ready.
Action Plan: Walk around the potential garden spot and consider how easily you can access it. Make a note of any obstacles or inconveniences that may need to be addressed before planting, such as clearing debris or trimming overgrown plants. Keep in mind any tools or equipment you may need to transport to and from the garden.
Finally, it is important to consider protection for your garden. This may include a fence or barrier to keep out animals or pests and shelter from harsh weather conditions such as wind, frost, or intense sun. You may also want to consider planting taller plants around the edges of your garden to provide some natural protection.
Action Plan: Take a walk around your chosen area and assess any potential risks or threats to your future garden. Make a plan for how you will protect your plants from these factors.
Step #2. Decide What You Will Grow
Once you have found the perfect spot for your garden, it’s time to decide what you want to grow and how much of it. This will determine the size of the garden you will need.
Some plants need a little space to grow, such as radishes or herbs, whereas other plants need more, such as corn or pumpkins. Next, determine how much you need to plant to feed your family. This will help you know how much space you will need to prepare for.
Action Plan: Make a list of the plants you hope to have and research how much space is needed to grow each one.
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Step #3. Design Your Garden Layout
Once you have chosen the perfect spot for your garden, it’s time to design your garden layout, and this involves answering a few questions.
- Will you use raised beds?
- Will you use traditional beds?
- Will you use containers?
Action Plan: Do research on each gardening method listed above and decide which one you will use this growing season.
Step #5. Mark it Out
After you have decided on a layout that best suits your needs, you will want to measure out each area to ensure you have enough room for each area. This will help you to use the space you have available in the most efficient way. You should also consider adding pathways between beds for easier access and maintenance.
Action Plan: Use a mower to cut down the prospective area. Once done, use stakes and string or spray paint to outline the boundaries of your garden and leave enough space for pathways.
Step #6. Build the Frames/Borders
Depending on your chosen layout, you will need to build frames or borders for your garden beds. This part is important as it will keep each area contained, allowing you to rotate more easily in the following years.
Action Plan: Decide on the type of material and size needed for your frames/boarders and gather all necessary supplies. Build each area and label them on your map so you know what was planted, where, how much, and the timeline. Keeping good notes from day one will help you to always improve as a gardener.
Step #7. Prepare the Soil
The key to staring a successful garden from scratch is healthy soil. Before planting, it’s important to prepare the soil by removing debris, weeds, or rocks. Next, you can either remove the sod to give you access to the soil underneath, or you can add layers of compost on top of the sod finishing off with a layer of soil you can plant in. Either way is fine, and the approach you choose is up to you.
Action Plan: Dedicate a day or two to prepare your soil, remove any debris and weeds, and add nutrients such as compost. Consult with your local garden center for advice on what type of fertilizer or soil amendments are best for your area.
No Dig Gardening Tips:
Step #8. Starting Planting
Once your frames/borders are built and the soil is prepared, you can start planting! Be sure to refer to the seed packet or seedling directions as to when to plant and the type of soil that is best for the plant you are growing.
Action Plan: Start planting according to your map and timeline. Make sure to leave enough space between plants for proper growth and use stakes or trellises for plants that need support. Keep track of what was planted and where to help with future crop rotation.
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Step #9. Maintenance
Gardening requires consistent maintenance throughout the growing season. This includes watering, weeding, and pest control.
Action Plan: Set up a care routine that you can stick to. Include tasks such as watering, weeding, and pest control.
Starting a garden from scratch can be overwhelming unless you have steps. Work on one task at a time, keeping a record in your journal. Remember to keep in mind your timing so you can have your plants in the ground, giving them enough time to mature before harvest.
Finally, having a routine for your garden’s care is an easy way to stay on top of its growth. A few minutes each day goes a long way to a healthy, abundant harvest at the end of the growing season.