In Part One of this series, you determined your WHY, set a goal including action steps and researched the best location for your garden. Now, you are ready to dive in deeper and start setting the foundation! Eeee, are you getting excited? I am just thinking about it.
Before going any further, head over to read Part One if you missed it. As I mentioned in that post, you will want to go in order with these steps to ensure you are as successful as possible!
Now, on to the good stuff… here are steps 4-6!
4. Design Your Space
Now that you know the location of your garden, you are ready to put all of that daydreaming you’ve been doing to good use! Grab your sketch from Part One – it’s time to get serious with it! 😉
There are all sorts of ways you can design your gardening space. You might decide to…
- build raised garden beds
- build wicking beds
- build keyhole garden beds
- plant in long rows
- start with container gardening
- incorporate edibles into your current landscaping
When we bought our first house, we had no idea if the people before us sprayed the yard with chemicals or used chemical-based fertilizer on the grass. For this and a few other reasons, we decided to build raised beds so we could control what was in the soil by bringing in new soil to all of the beds. We used the square foot gardening method which you can research and read all about in Mel Bartholomew’s book. If you decide to go with this method, be sure to keep the width of your raised beds to 4 feet or less so you can reach in and easily harvest your fruits, veggies and herbs.
Since then, we have also sheet mulched patches of grass to become in-ground garden beds by covering the grass with cardboard and untreated straw. I love this method because it makes a lot of sense to me in terms of what is best for the land. The cardboard decomposes, enriching the soil over time. It is the least invasive and allows you to work with the soil you already have. The only con is that it can take awhile, so you will have to be patient (not always my strong suit).
Do some research and decide on the plan that matches your why and your garden goals! If you are observing your land for the first year as we mentioned in Part One, you will have plenty of time to sheet mulch because the cardboard will have all year to decompose. If you don’t have a lot of space or want to start small before diving in deeper, container gardening may be the perfect fit. Once you know what best suits you and your needs, add your design to your garden sketch! If you have any questions at any point in this process – jump on over to the Beginner Gardeners FB Group to get some help.
5. Buy It, Build It or Start It
Now that you have a design plan, you are ready to start preparing your space. This is the part you have been waiting for, I know! You get to get your hands dirty.
If you are adding to your pre-existing landscaping, read ahead to step 6 and make sure you know about your garden soil before planting in it.
Whether you plan to only grow in containers or start with them while waiting to observe your land, this is an excellent article that provides tips, spacing information and varieties best suited to grow in containers.
If needed, buy materials and then get to work! If you prefer raised beds but you have a tight budget, get creative. Our first raised garden bed was made out of our old kitchen cabinets. Take a look around your garage and see if there is anything you can reuse.
If you are sheet mulching, lay down your cardboard today. You can call around to local businesses to see if you can come pick up their cardboard boxes. Think big! You’ll want large boxes from items such as refrigerators. Often times, businesses have to pay to have their boxes picked up, so it’s a win-win! If I would have laid down cardboard the first time I thought of it, we would have expanded our garden space three years ago. I know! So, go get busy! Today is THE best day to start.
6. Amend It
Ask any gardener and they will tell you the key to your garden is good soil health! We get nutrients from the plants and they get them from the soil, so you want your soil to be as healthy as possible.
If I was starting all over again I would probably start by testing our current garden soil before doing anything else. However, if you are like me and want to get going right away, check out a few sources in your area for good soil. Your local garden store should be able to guide you in the right direction. This isn’t all you will need though. Keep reading!
We purchased soil for our first garden beds since we weren’t sure if anything had been sprayed before we moved in. Even with a “veggie mix” soil blend, I learned (the hard way!) that the soil was lacking nutrients and we needed to add some back in. Now, let’s jump over to this article to learn how to do the same for your growing space!
The link above takes you to an article I wrote about amending your soil. One of the largest parts involves composting which used to intimidate me until I watched a TED talk that simplified the process and kicked me into action. For more about this, head over to my post about the easiest way to compost.
Okay, those three steps are sure to keep you busy for now. In the next part of this series, we will jump into what I consider the most exciting part: the plants!
It’s here!! Head over to Part Three of this series to learn all you need to know about plants before you plant them!
Don’t forget to request to join our Facebook group for Beginner Gardeners so you can update us with your progress.