How to Start a Vegetable Garden from Scratch
So, you have finally decided to start growing your own vegetables but don’t have a clue as to where to start. Maybe you’ve been putting it off because you don’t have a green thumb as your Grandmother did? Don’t stress. Anyone can acquire a green thumb. Essentially all that’s needed is the time and inclination to pay attention to the plants, fresh air, water, and sunlight.
“The best thing for your garden is your shadow.”Wise old man
This article breaks down how to start a vegetable garden from scratch. You can give yourself a head start by playing the Go Grow Educational Gardening Game. Designed by an expert natural farmer, it’ll help you learn how to grow your own food, inspire you to get out there and do it, and you’ll have almost as much fun as you will in your vegetable garden.
Find the right location
The ideal spot for a vegetable garden is an area that gets a lot of sunshine and a little shade in the afternoons. So, before you start digging, spend time in your yard at different times of day and pay attention to which areas get sun and for how long. Look at the trees in your garden and any trees neighbouring it. If any of them are deciduous you’ll need to consider the fact that when the tree is in leaf your sunny winter spot will be completely in the shade.
Set up a worm farm
As you will learn when you play the Go Grow! educational gardening board game, the most important thing in your garden is the soil. The easiest and most cost-effective way of ensuring you have healthy nutrient-rich soil in your vegetable garden is by farming worms. In fact, the compost the worms produce is known as black gold because it has such an impact on the health of your garden. Worms, red wrigglers, eat your food scraps, garden trimmings, and manure and create compost called ‘vermicompost’. This is excellent for fertilizing your garden naturally and growing seedlings. Worms castings are filled with micro-organisms that will keep your soil healthy and, if your soil is healthy, your plants will be healthy. The liquid (leachate) produced while the worms create the compost can be diluted and made into a tea to use as a natural pest repellent and chemical-free fertilizer which improves soil health.
Decide what type of beds you want
There are several different ways of preparing beds for your vegetables and you might want to stick to one type or try a combination of types depending on ho big an areas you have for your vegetable garden.
Raised beds, also known as square foot beds, are often the best option for beginners who want to start a vegetable garden from scratch. They aren’t too expensive to make, you won’t have to do any soil tilling, and there is a barrier between your vegetables and any grass or weeds.
Planter Pots are ideal if you have a small area to work with and, depending on their size, can be moved around to be in the best sun. It doesn’t matter what size pots you have, you’ll find something to grow in them. Some vegetables LOVE pots – lettuce, spinach, garlic, tomatoes, peppers, beans, beets, kale, and onions can all yield a fair amount of produce from a pot.
Plant in the Soil
Humans have been growing vegetables directly in the soil for centuries. You clear the area you want to plant, till the soil, and add some manure for fertilizer. You’ll need to create beds with raised mounds for planting most vegetables. These beds are the ideal environment for companion planting. You may need to add additional nutrients depending on the quality of your soil. Most nurseries will be able to test your soil for you and let you know what’s missing.
Decide on Seeds or Seedlings
If you are just starting out you should probably try both seeds and seedlings. The reason for this is mainly to keep your spirits up. All too often people purchase seeds, plant them, and then they don’t grow and it makes the newbie gardener really despondent. Do get seeds to experiment with, but perhaps start off with some seedlings too. They’re not that expensive and will prove more rewarding for first-timers. Be sure to choose seedlings which have good colour and strong stems. Start with no more than 24 seedlings. If you buy seeds then start with some simple vegetables like carrots, beans, spinach and radishes. And remember to check the instructions on the package because some seeds need to be soaked before they’re planted.
Watering Set up
You are going to need to water your vegetable garden and need to consider how you’re going to do this. Is water easily accessible or are you going to need to bring it from another location? This will make a difference to the type of watering equipment you need. If you have a tap nearby then all you will need is a hose and a nozzle, if you have to carry your water you will need a large container, a wheelbarrow to transport it, and a watering can to water it by hand. It is highly recommended that you put all thought of irrigation out of your mind with your first vegetable garden. You won’t get to know your plants or get a real feel for how your garden grows. It doesn’t take long, is therapeutic, and you can weed and check for bugs while you’re at it.
Be prepared for Pests
Pests are part and parcel of gardening. Your tomatoes will be pecked by birds, snails will trawl your garden by night, and insects will invade your potato patch. The best thing you need to do is be prepared. Louis, the Go Grow! game designer, recommends natural and organic methods. Build a scarecrow or netting cover to keep out birds, and whip up some natural pesticides made from ginger, chilli, and garlic. There are recipes for these in the Go Grow! Gardening Guide. When you play the Go Grow! game you will quickly learn that if your soil is healthy, your plants are healthy and pests won’t hang around long.
What to Plant and When to Plant It
Don’t get too bogged down in deciding what you’re going to plant, when you’re going to plant, and what the best companion plants. You can worry about that a harvest or two down the line. What you need to do is to get growing! Find out what grows well in your area from neighbours or your local nursery and gets started. Tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, radishes, carrots, sugar snaps, and bush beans are good vegetables to start your garden with.
Once you’ve considered all these things you are good to start your vegetable garden from scratch and start growing your own food. The only other thing that will come in useful is befriending a seasoned gardener. Someone who has been growing vegetables for a period of time will be able to help you troubleshoot any problems you may have and be a mine of useful information. The next best thing would be to access the knowledge of such a person which is exactly what you can do when you buy the Go Grow! Educational Gardening Game.
Louis has created the game as a fun way to impart his years of experience to as many people as possible. Play a game or two of Go Grow! and you’ll soon have a garden abundant with fresh, delicious vegetables.