It is hard to know where to start. So I wanted to break down how to start a vegetable garden in the simplest and most frugal way I could provide. It is hard to know with gardening where to start, but I break down all you need to get started with your veggie garden.
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Best Tips On How To Make A Garden
Do not over research. I spent a long time researching, and what I found was a lot of information that conflicts with both common sense and accuracy.
Gardening is not an exact science, but there are things you want to learn more about that will save you time and money.
One of those things to realize, is that you do not need a lot of space to get started. Think outside the box. You can hang planters from the patio, you can get a vertical growing tower, you can even have plants starting in your home under a grow light.
It just takes a little time. Ask at your local gardening center too. Sometimes you will get someone there that is a seasoned gardener. And they will give you all sorts of tips and tricks you may not find.
It is sort of like fishing. The good anglers never tell you where their honey holes, best places to catch fish, are. I have found gardening to be a little similar.
Is Growing Vegetables Hard?
When I first started gardening. Yes, it was hard. I am a researcher by nature, and finding really good information was making it difficult for me to be able to grow a garden successfully.
There was no, how to start gardening for beginners. Especially since I wanted an organic garden or as close as I could get to limiting chemicals as possible.
How To Start A Garden For Beginners
Here are a few tips that will make gardening just a little bit easier for you. I will tell you, once I started making a plan it got easier. I had to also stop following all the people who have been gardening for 10+ years who say, “gardening is so easy”.
It is not easy if you are like I am, I have a blackish purple thumb. It is like a man trying to give birth. For me, it just was not happening. But again. They were also leaving out basic steps, assuming that I already knew the answers. Which I didn’t
Now, I am not saying that there is not a time or place for asking the master gardeners. But, if they do not know how to teach, you will be spinning in circles and weeding through an endless sea of information.
You could have made it through two or three growing seasons.
So I am going to list out everything you need to know to start a garden and build a DIY garden in a weekend.
From how to start a garden bed, raised bed vegetable gardening for beginners, gardening 101 vegetables,
Know Your Zone
Before planting a garden the very first thing I suggest is to learn your zone. When you know your zone, you can follow the proper planting schedule for your location. This means that you will know what to plant, when to sow it and when to start the seeds before planting them in the ground.
Grab our Know what to plant for your zone workbook Coming Soon
Know What To Plant For Your Zone
Once you figure out your zone, here is a free guide that I put out for you each month so that you can find out what to plant for your zone. It makes it easy and you can always use it as a template to figure out what are your steps for the upcoming month. I lay it all out for you.
Gardening 101 Vegetables : Quality Gardening Seeds Are Important
Get good seeds. I purchased some heirloom seeds and they were not very good. About 25% of them grew. A good portion of them did not produce fruit. It was a long, long growing season because of those seeds. So research and find the best company to get seeds.
I can tell you that it won’t matter what type of soil you have if the seeds are awful. So get good seeds my friend. You will thank me later.
What is Square Foot Gardening and Why Use It?
Square foot gardening is all about a 4 x 4 raised bed. It allows you to be able to save your back. I know sometimes we do not think of that when we are younger. But we definitely want to be able to work smarter, not harder.
This method keeps you from bending and reaching as much as you would with a traditional garden.
Essentially, you build a 4 foot square. Two rows are easily accessible from any side. So you are never overreaching.
You then divide the square into 16 different squares. Then each square can then be divided into seed groups.
So one square could have 1 tomato plant, while the square next to it could have 4 marigold plants.
Each square is made up of its own plants. Now, I have added two types of basil in one square, which is also fine to do. If you have different varieties. As long as the plants have the room to grow.
Square Foot Gardening Planner
Does Square Foot Gardening Really Work?
It helps to organize your garden. Which will then help you to be more efficient.
You are using up as much space as you can. Which means, you can grow more in less space.
This can save you money on raised beds, containers, soil, water and compost.
It also helps to create a natural mulch. Which will prevent weeds from being able to grow or live for long.
Raised Vegetable Garden
I wanted to cover this, because this was my first year planting in the ground. Where I live, you can say we have a bit of wildlife. Nothing too bad, but enough that the little boogers like to sample or destroy what you plant.
This year I lost several plants due to foraging little critters. Rabbits, squirrels, birds oh my! All of them were just having a ball in my garden vegetables.
At one point it got so bad, that the rabbits would sit outside my garden gate, almost like they were waiting for a formal invitation to come inside to eat my watermelon and herbs.
In less than one week, over 40 sunflower plants were eaten by something. I never caught them. But I think it was the rabbits. I even put up a mini garden fence that you find online for a cheap fee. Every single last sunflower gone.
This is why I now will have raised beds and protected areas from these critters.
Best Raised Garden Bed
As I mentioned above, I can highly recommend a raised garden bed. I do not think I will ever go back to not having one. Unless of course, I have a fenced in area. Which is just as good.
There are two types of raised beds. You have the typical raised garden and then you have the raised garden bed on legs also known as the elevated garden beds.
Here is an example of a raised garden bed:
My hubby made cages for me because I was tired of fighting off the things that wanted to eat our vegetable garden before we had a chance. There are places for tomatoes and other vining plants towards the back.
You can get your copy of our if you only want the Enclosed Raised Garden Bed Plans
They have been keeping all the rabbits out!
Here is an example of a raised garden bed on legs or elevated garden beds prior to the bottom being installed.
Are Raised Beds Worth It?
I can’t say it enough, YES! Please get a raised bed. You will thank me later. If you plan on digging in ground or making an elevated garden bed on legs. Please do it. It will save you so much time and heartache.
What Do I Put On The Bottom Of A Raised Garden Bed?
I do what is called the lasagna method.
- Fill the bottom, first layer of your garden bed with cardboard. This will help keep weeds and grass from growing. I learned that one layer may not be enough with some of the grasses here in Texas. So I would recommend two layers of cardboard if you have stubborn grass or weeds
- Cover with compost
- Plant your seeds or seedlings. Yes, you can plant immediately
That is it!
Should I Place Rocks In The Bottom Of My Raised Garden Bed?
This is really going to be dependent on what you choose to do with building your bed. If you plan to add compost and soil only. Then adding rocks may be beneficial for you.
If you plan to add nutrients into your compost and soil, then I do not think that it is necessary. We chose to skip this process for our beds. Instead we have added twigs and branches which will take some time to compost. It also provided good for the beneficial bugs to come and enjoy.
If you do not have access to twigs and larger branches you could add a layer of rocks to the bottom of your bed to allow for drainage.
Should I Line A Raised Garden Bed?
Gardening can become extremely expensive if you buy all of the things that are suggested. Remember, that all of these things are not used in every garden.
There are plenty of gardeners that choose to be minimalist in their garden. This can help them make their garden more cost effective.
For the gardening beginner I would recommend not lining your bed just yet. Try out our first bed using the lasagna method and see how you like that first. This will eliminate the additional cost of purchasing lining that will be expensive for a new gardener.
How Do You Fill A Raised Bed Cheaply?
- Step 1 Layer of cardboard
- Step 2 Second layer of cardboard
- Step 3 Layer of twigs
- Step 4 Layer of branches
- Step 5 Layer of soil approximately 3-4 inches above the branches
- Step 6 Layer of compost material or compost waste
- Step 7 Layer of soil approximately 3-4 inches above the compost material
- Step 8 Walk or Press down the layers. Do not worry about compacting. The twigs and branches will create natural air pockets for the soil to drain
- Step 9 Layer of soil approximately 5-8 inches above the compost material
- Step 10 Plant your seeds or plant your seedlings
How Many Bags Of Soil Do You Need For A Raised Bed?
This is a tough one because it depends on how deep the roots of your plants need to be. When I first started digging around for how to build a veggie garden in a raised bed there were so many people who were absolute with their numbers.
However, what I found was that I really needed to use those numbers as a baseline. Doing the lasagna method is a little different than just throwing in soil and coconut coir into your raised bed that you put rocks and soil in. There is a lot to consider.
First, if you decide to plant items that do not need deep roots you will not need to worry about the calculations they will be standard measurements. You can get those measurements from Lowe’s or Home Depot online once you select your soil type.
When you select your soil, you want to input in your measurements for your raised bed. This will calculate out the exact amount of soil to fill that bed.
Our calculations were not perfect, because we had cardboard as the first layer and twigs as the second layer. See “How To Fill A Garden Bed Cheaply” for the exact method we used.
Second, once you decide on what you plan to plant, you can decide if you want more soil.
Things like potatoes, carrots, watermelon etc like to have good deep soil. While radishes are fine in less deep soil
Third, decide on the crop rotation that you will be planting in the bed. If you have a mixed variety of shallow root and deep root plants you will want to fill your bed for the deeper roots.
Square Foot Gardening Layout and Planner.
Confused about what to plant and where. Our square foot gardening layout will help you quickly plan your upcoming garden and beyond.
Can You Fill A Raised Bed With Just Compost?
Yes you can fill your raised bed with just compost. Here is where we start talking a bit more about money.
Compost is not cheap. In fact, it is probably the most expensive item in my vegetable garden.
If I had it to do all over again, I would have started two to three compost piles right away. Mainly because I know just how much money it is to fill a bed. And I want to make this as painless as possible for you to be able to start your garden.
Now, think of it this way. You can start planting seeds in that compost immediately. There is no big concern with amending the compost. You just start.
You are not going to spend the money either on compost or on soil and amendments. So you might as well start with compost.
There are soils that are amended and are also high quality like compost. That is just not the way we went with this year’s vegetable garden.
If you decide to do a combination and put compost as your top layer. You can put 40 to 50 percent as compost. This will allow you to save cost and still get the benefits of compost.
Can You Grow In 100% Compost?
Absolutely. There are naysayers out there. But they have been proven wrong again and again as more and more gardeners are switching to no dig garden methods.
The old train of thought is that there is less water retention and stability in your soil. I have not found this to be true at all.
In fact, I believed this to be true and my first years of gardening I spent a ton of money on materials to help my soil drain and retain moisture.
Nature can do this automatically. You just have to follow certain tips. Including the lasagna method that I have listed out.
This will help you to retain water retention and drainage properly without additional material costs.
If you choose to add additional things you certainly can. But please do not feel that that is the only way.
What Is A No Dig Garden Bed?
What I described above is what is known as a no dig garden. It is my absolute favorite way to garden. I was able to lay everything down from the above three steps including my garden in one day. That made me so happy.
Usually, it takes so long to get everything dug out. I would just be too tired to continue. This method is the only reason why I felt ok with doing the in ground planting this year.
The cardboard that you lay down, to smother out the weeds and grass, will be a barrier to the sun. However, worms and other beneficial bugs and fungi will be able to grow naturally.
Since it is cardboard it will break down. I think it only took about 3 months or so for me to start seeing the breakdown. I know, I checked.
My new compost bin my husband built for me is perfect. It has two sides. One side for current waste to be added to. The second for the next batch of compost.
Can You Put Moldy Food In Compost?
I am a fan of using up as much as I can. This means that even moldy food will have a home. The microorganisms will help in breaking down the food. This means that it will aid in the decomposition process.
How I use moldy food. I do not put it directly in my beds. I put them in a separate compost area. It may not be necessary. However, that is what I prefer.
What To Buy For Your Garden
If you are working with kids in the garden, then you will want to be able to give them things that they can relate to. For example. Smaller children will want to have coloring workbooks along with working side by side with you. You can get those workbooks here.
Older kids and teens can use the tools that you use and learn side by side with you.
Having a garden is a labor of love. And what I have learned from it has made it so much easier each year I plant something.
Remember that not everything will be perfect. This is a guide to assist you in getting started. To provide a method and order for things to do and how to do them.
I hope you use some or all of the techniques I have provided. I would love to see your garden tag me on Instagram .