Are you ready to start gardening? Gardening can be a learning curve, and it can be a lot to keep up with, but it can be great fun as well–and the whole family can participate as well! We are so fortunate to have a preschool in Noblesville, IN, where we live, that offers hands-on gardening experiences for our children at an early age–we can’t recommend this type of childcare facility enough, but I digress. If you’re ready to start growing some of your own produce, here are some steps to begin:
Step 1: Prepare the Soil
If possible, soil preparation should be started in the fall before the garden is planted in the spring. Using the Back to Eden gardening method can be very effective in reducing weeds and increasing the yield of your garden. I started by collecting cardboard boxes and laying them on the ground where my garden was going to be. On top of the cardboard boxes, I spread a bit of chicken manure. Then, I piled on about 6-10 inches of wood chips and leaves that I collected from a local tree service and from my town. As all of this breaks down over the winter, it will create the perfect growing environment for your plants. The manure and wood chips will break down toward the bottom of the pile so that you have nice soil to plant in, and the wood chips on top that have not yet broken down make a nice mulch, which prevents the growth of weeds.
Step 2: Decide What You Will Grow
You will want to decide which plants you would like to grow sometime in January or February. I recommend ordering seeds from a company like Baker Creek Heirlooms where you know your seeds will be high quality. Some seeds, such as tomatoes and peppers, should be started indoors approximately 6-8 weeks before the last frost of spring. If you are a beginner, don’t go overboard. It’s best not to be overwhelmed by all of the plants in your garden at the beginning. Try to start with 6-8 types of vegetables the first year, and grow from there.
Step 3: Plant, Plant, Plant!
Find out when the average last frost of the season is in your area, and plan to plant around that time. If you are planning to grow leafy greens or peas, they can actually be planted a few weeks before the last frost. Otherwise, you will be planting all of your seeds on or after the date of the last frost of the season. Planting is one of the best parts of gardening. Be sure those seeds are planted well in your soil and covered with plenty of soil. Try to pull away the loose mulch so they don’t have to grow up through all of the wood chips. Once your seeds have been planted, you are ready to start watching for sprouts. You could see sprouts as soon as 5-7 days after your seeds are planted, but don’t panic if it takes a bit longer.
Hopefully now you feel prepared to start gardening! Check out the video below for more information.