New Gardener 101 – Vegetable Gardening in 7 Steps

My Backyard Garden in 2020.
My second year vegetable garden.

Are you a new gardener and are interested in living a more self-sufficient and sustainable lifestyle? If so, then creating a garden is a wonderful place to start! Creating a new garden does not require purchasing expensive equipment or buying acres of land, on the contrary, you can start by using your patio or backyard. Starting a garden is a healthy and beneficial hobby that can be set up in only a few steps; researching, planning, designing, and executing. To give you a better understanding of theses steps, in today’s post, we will provide 7 simple steps for the beginner gardener to starting a vegetable garden from scratch.

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Why Should You Start a Vegetable Garden?

Fred and I in 2018
Fred and I starting our new Garden

Growing a garden is a wonderful hobby to start. It is easy to learn and has many benefits. To begin with, fresh food from the store can be very expensive at times, the act of growing food yourself can save money in the areas of groceries, gas, and it removes the middle man from the equation. Secondly, vegetables from your garden can provide you with the needed vitamins and minerals, in fact,, recently reported that over 2 billion people suffer from hidden hunger due to a lack of nutrients. In addition, research has shown that gardening can also contribute to reduce stress, obtain food security, and reconnect you with nature. Another benefit is that you can use gardening as a way to not only improve your family’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

When gardening, the ultimate goal is to have a purpose, start small, and have fun. Hence, is why we tried to break the process down as simple as possible so that you can get up and running in no time. With that said, let’s get started with the steps.

#1 – Do Your Research

So the first thing you should do before you build your first garden is researching the climate and local patterns. Researching your area is a vital first step when planning your garden. It can give you a better understanding of factors such as the climate you live in, the best plants to grow, and your local laws and activities. In this section, we are going to briefly cover those areas and share some resources that you can use.

Growing or Hardiness Zone

When you planning your new garden, knowing the zone you live in is important because it prevents you from wasting money or setting unrealistic expectations.
When you planning your new garden, knowing the zone you live in is important because it prevents you from wasting money or setting unrealistic expectations.

If you want to learn more about the climate patterns in your area, the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is a great free resource to use. When you planning your new garden, knowing the zone you live in is important because it prevents you from wasting money or setting unrealistic expectations. Once you add your zip code or state to the search box, the map will let you know what zone you reside in and the average extreme temperature in your location. Knowing your zone is important because it will give you an idea of what plants will more than likely thrive in your area and the best time to plant them.

Plants and Soil

Understanding your plants’ compatibility with your soil type is critical to the survival of your garden. While it may be tempting to purchase plants that you see on TV, it may not be sustainable to what you are trying to accomplish. To start, one of the factors that can affect a plant is the zone it lives in. If you buy a perennial plant that is best suited for zones 5-8 and you plant it in zone 4, there is a possibility that it may not survive or come back the following year. Moreover, not knowing the soil type in your area can produce the same results.

Local Laws

Another factor that can affect your gardening plans is local laws. Depending on where you stay, some areas may have specific rules and regulations regarding new gardens or small homesteads. For instance, let’s say you want to make some significant changes to your space such as building a new shed or a permanent greenhouse. Even though you believe that it not a major project, your local city hall may require a permit before you start building. Understanding local laws can be a bit time-consuming but at least make sure that you have a basic understanding of them, it can save you from future headaches or possible citations down the line.

Your Neighborhood

After you learn about the zone you live in and the local laws, take time to drive around. Don’t be afraid to go around your neighborhood to see what your neighbors are doing. You may find that some are keeping it plain, or some are doing something similar to what you desire. For example, in my neighborhood, I learned that I have some neighbors raising chickens, some who have a whole backyard garden, and even one who owns an owl, hawk, and doves! You never know until you drive.

Your researching will give you a better understanding of your environment and what is acceptable in your area. Take time out to complete this step, and it will be a smoother transition when it comes time to plan and plant.

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