So you are ready to start a backyard garden? It’s an exciting prospect; fresh, organic vegetables to feed your family from your own backyard! A backyard garden can be a great way to grow your own healthy vegetables and save money in the process. Having a successful and bountiful backyard garden does require some planning before you get started. Where will you put your garden? Raised beds or no? What are the soil requirements? How about keeping out local wildlife and insects? How should you set up your backyard garden? These are a few questions that we will answer today.
Location, Location, Location!
First, plan a location in your yard that gets full sunlight for most of the day. Be aware of any shade trees or bushes in your yard and avoid planting your garden in these areas. Take a look at where the sunniest spots are in your backyard. Generally, the south and west facing areas will get the most sun. Also be aware of structures like walls and fences, that can help shelter your garden from wind and also capture some warmth from the sun. Also, take a look at the hills and slopes, and avoid placing your garden in a low area that might be cooler and pool moisture. If you are planning to plant tender vegetable crops early in the spring season, consider making a cold frame in your garden to add shelter and warmth until the warmer weather comes along. A cold frame is like a mini-greenhouse in your garden and it will allow you to plant seedlings earlier in cooler climates.
Drainage and Irrigation
It’s also very important to be sure your backyard vegetable garden has good drainage and irrigation. The soil in the area should be spongy and spring back somewhat when you squeeze it. It should not be in a low-lying area, or an area in your yard that puddles when it rains. Try using raised beds to help allow for good drainage and irrigation when you are watering your vegetable garden. Also plan your garden in a location that is easy for you to water.
Take a look at the quality of the soil in the area that you plan to have your vegetable garden. The type of soil that is best for growing a garden is rich, dark, loomy soil that feels a little spongy when you squeeze it. It should have a sweet earthy smell. Is your soil more sandy, clay like, or pale in color? Never fear, you can improve the quality of your soil in many ways. One is to buy some loom or topsoil from a local garden center. If you are looking for a low cost option, try looking around locally reasonable prices for topsoil. You can also add organic matter like rotted leaves, manure or other organic matter to your soil. Also, don’t forget worms! Worms are a gardener’s friend. They ingest organic matter and process it and add it back to your soil, all the time aerating your soil in their travels. Consider adding some earthworms to your vegetable garden soil to help improve it’s growing power.
Plan Before you Plant!
Now you need to decide what vegetables you want to grow in your garden. Start by deciding what vegetables you and your family enjoy the most. If no one likes zucchini, don’t plant it or you’ll end up with buckets of zucchini that you have no use for. Think of some favorite vegetables and then fully research them. Do they grow well in your climate? Do they need a lot of sun? How long does it take for them to produce vegetables. If this is your first garden, it’s a great idea to start with some vegetables that produce results quickly, so that you can start to reap the rewards right away. Good choices for a fast harvest are lettuce, potatoes, spring onions and beans. Also try to choose hardy, basic varieties that are tried and true. You can get fancy after you have a few growing seasons under your belt!
Don’t Forget Fencing
Critters love fresh grown vegetables from your garden. Be aware if there are bunnies, deer, or other animals in the area that they will see your garden as an easy meal! Plan a fence around your garden keeping in mind the type of animals in your area. Do some research and talk to your neighbors about potential local pests in order to plan your garden fencing.
Taking the time to fully prepare and plan your garden can make the difference between a lackluster showing and a bountiful growing season. Planning for a good location, proper sunlight, quality soil and good drainage and aeration, as well as keeping out pests will make the difference in your backyard garden!