Vitamin D. Immunity. Exercise. Strength. Improved sleep and moods. A renewed sense of connection.
If “getting healthier” is on your list of New Year’s resolutions, these benefits of gardening are hard to resist!
And if you want to get started, now is the time to start planning. Don’t get caught off-guard when spring arrives — otherwise, you’ve wasted valuable time!
With these spring gardening tips, you’ll have everything you need to grow a beautiful garden that will sustain you — both physically and mentally!
Planning Your Plots
Whether you’re planting fruits, vegetables, or just some eye-catching and fragrant flowers, you’ll need to consider many factors.
Firstly, decide what you’re planting so you can determine what kind of soil it needs. Additionally, you’ll need to know where you want to put your garden and how much space it will occupy.
When picking the right location and size of your garden, take into account:
- How much shade and direct sunlight the garden will receive
- Moisture levels in that location during different times of the year
- Exposure to harsh elements, like wind, hail, and heat exposure
- Competing plants, like weeds or other invasive species
To get the most out of your garden’s location, also consider which way the garden will face. This will determine how much sunlight your garden receives at different times of day during different seasons.
For example, western-facing gardens are among the most ideal because they receive constant sunlight exposure — morning through afternoon, in both summer and winter.
Southern-facing gardens also receive plenty of sunshine. If you’re gardening in the spring or summer months, you could consider a northern-facing garden, too. But keep in mind that it will be in the shade of your house once winter comes.
Lastly, eastern-facing gardens receive the most sunlight during the morning — since the sun rises from the east — but will receive mostly shade come afternoon.
Remember that sunlight, nutrients, and water are three of the most important variables to any successful garden crop.
You can ensure adequate sunlight and nutrients through your garden’s placement and fertilizer methods. But underwatering your plants could lead them to dehydrate, and overwatering could drown them.
Budgeting for Your Garden
The cost of planting a garden will depend on a variety of factors. But the rewards of learning how to care for a plant — and how to provide yourself — far exceed the costs.
In general, your budget should account for:
- The cost of seeds or plants
- The cost of nutrient-rich soils (including fertilizer or worms)
- The cost of protective structures, like cages, coverings, or fences
- The cost to water plants
- The cost of tools and accessories
According to the Journal of Extension, the average cost of gardening supplies was around $238. But the average value of fruits and vegetables produced far exceeded that, at up to $677.
You’ll also need to budget for any additional expenses that may arise in making your yard suitable for a garden. Will you need to install sprinklers or other irrigation systems? Will you need to remove or rearrange landscaping, pathways, or furniture?
Additionally, consider how you want to decorate your garden. Remember that it has aesthetic value, too! Decor like solar garden stakes can help make your garden a friendly, inviting place.
Planting Your Garden
If you don’t have a lot of land in your yard, there are other space-saving garden alternatives you can consider, like vertical gardens, pots, raised beds, or containers.
Whichever route you choose, grouping similar plants — and giving them adequate space — is critical in this step.
First, you have to know which categories your vegetables fall into. Then, you can group them by category, and plant similar categories in shared plots. One potential grouping might look like this:
- Alliums, cucurbits, lettuce, and spinach
- Root vegetables
- Legumes and tomatoes
- Brassicas or cruciferous vegetables
Then, you have to understand what types of soil your plants will thrive in. Soil with clay particles will retain moisture, while soil with sandy or silty particles will aerate it, thus draining moisture faster.
All three soil types might require additional nutrients, which is where your fertilizer, compost, or other organic matter comes in.
To help break up your soil, you might consider planting vegetables that thrive in that soil type. Some vegetables can be rotated out, while others are permanent crops. Either way, you’ll have broken-in soil that’s anchored for the next crop.
Each of your crop groups should have adequate space based on how large your vegetables will grow. Overgrowing your plots could lead to deficiencies in sunlight, water, and nutrients.
Be sure to include a path in your plot that makes all of your plants accessible for maintenance. If you’re planting multiple groups, your path should allow you access to each group without trampling over one or the other.
Consider adding storage sheds, compost heaps, or watering containers to keep everything you need within reach.
Maintaining your garden will ultimately depend on what you’re growing. However, the general rule of thumb for watering vegetables is to water about 2 inches, once a week.
If you water more often but in lower quantities, this could cause quicker evaporation, thus dehydrating the roots.
Similarly, if you go too long without watering, some vegetables may not grow to their full potential. Others, like tomatoes, could burst if they are suddenly watered excessively after going without it for a while.
Other types of maintenance don’t need to be conducted as often but should be done at least once a month or as needed. These include raking leaves, pulling weeds, and checking for pests or invasive species.
Keep a garden log to plan your plot and track your maintenance and growth. After you’ve cultivated your crops, also keep track of how quickly you’re using them.
If you find yourself with an excess of root vegetables or legumes, for example, you might consider finding new recipes or canning and preserving your extras.
Lastly, remember to save the seeds you yield from each crop. This will save you on buying seeds again in the future, and it’s a gift that just keeps giving!
Spring Gardening Made Easy
Taking up spring gardening is much easier than you might think, even for beginners! By devoting the right time, space, and funding to your project, you’ll have a flourishing crop — and newfound hobby — in no time!
If you’re looking for more inspiration, be sure to check out our gardening section for everything from landscaping to routine garden maintenance.