Here are 3 easy tips to keep in mind:
1. Plant in the right spot
Plant your spring garden in an area that gets at least 5-6 hours of sun each day. If you are not using raised garden beds, make sure the ground is level so water does not run off or pool.
If this is your first try at gardening, I would begin with a 4′ x 4′ garden. I like using raised beds as it deters pests like squirrels and rabbits from getting in. If you have the time, you can check out landscape companies for used landscape timbers at cheap prices. I have a mix in mine, but saved money in the long run. I have my beds only 2 timbers high (newer beds will be made at 3 high so I don’t have to bend as much!).
Why Garden in Raised Beds?
- You can use compost and organic matter for a richer soil and it won’t leach away.
- The timbers keep your dirt contained better than a flimsy edging, which means less weeds
- You will find using raised beds will help water drain and not become stagnant.
- The elevated soil of raised beds drains quickly and doesn’t become waterlogged.
2. Picking the right soil
You will need to loosen the soil so it is not compacted, either with a shovel or a rototiller. You need to know if your soil is sandy, black or clay. If it is clay I believe your only option is a raised garden with good black soil. The easiest thing to do is add good soil and organic material to what you already have.
I usually add peat moss to my soil. If you compost, you can also mix this into your soil. If you are not using raised beds, you can find out what type of soil is common in your area by going to the USDA website http://websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov/app/
3. Planning what types of vegetables to grow
I know most people would say you should consider your climate area, your soil type and how much sun your garden will get. This is important, but not the only things to consider. The crucial thing to remember when selecting seeds or seedlings is your family!
If you grow it and they don’t eat it, you have wasted a lot of time and effort for nothing. Once you know what they like you can always throw in one or two “different” plants and see how that goes at harvest time.
Many plants don’t do well next to each other because they compete for space, air and sun. It’s best to plant vegetables that will grow well next to each other, help pest control and be beneficial to each other.
Wikipedia gives a nice list of companion plants here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_companion_plants
Are you an urban gardener? What is your #1 tip for new city gardeners?