How to Start a Garden

When you think about how you want to arrange your garden, it really depends on how deep you want to go in the process.

  • Do you want to scatter a few tomato plants among your perennials?
  • Or are you looking for major vegetable production? Let’s say we eat most of our meals from the vegetables we grow in the garden! That’s what we’re aiming for.

Let’s assume that you have checked out the information on how to start a garden and that you have chosen a good spot and amended the soil properly.

I will also assume that you have a general idea of the type of vegetables you want to grow in your garden.

There are some plants, such as radishes, that are thought to be particularly helpful in keeping certain pests at bay, so even if you don’t care for them, it might be a good idea to plant them.

Likewise with marigolds …… Their ‘pest-proofing’ abilities are a good addition to the garden, so it’s a good idea to keep them there too.

Those exceptions aside, plant what you like! Because frankly, it would be a good choice. Because frankly, it will give you the most pleasure in your garden.

Which plants should you consider when researching how to set up your garden?

Type of plants

This can be a difficult decision, especially for someone like me, because I want to grow them all!!!

But to be honest, I can’t grow them all, and I’m not going to pretend that I can.

More importantly, I’m not going to pretend that I like all of them!”.

For example, green beans are easy to grow and look great on a homemade trellis, but I don’t like them, nor does anyone else in my family. What good is growing it going to do me?

Start with a good list of what you’d like to plant

Most garden vegetables are fairly easy to grow and maintain as long as they have at least six hours of sunlight and a good supply of water.

When researching how to set up a garden that best suits your needs, consider the types of plants you like to grow. Some plants will need to be grouped together or separated for pollination purposes and to get the most out of each plant.

Pay attention to what’s on the label when buying plants. The sweet corn seeds I purchased specifically stated that there should be at least 2 rows of corn planted together to ensure cross-pollination and that they should be planted separately from other corn varieties.

If you buy plants from your local garden shop, the label should specify how they should be planted to ensure maximum yield.

Vegetables that I have had great success with when growing in groups or individuals are.

Tomatoes – One of the easiest vegetables to grow and produces the highest yields. (They should not be grouped with corn or potatoes).

Courgette – Requires little maintenance!

Lettuce – Plant a new row (by seed) every week for several weeks to ensure a consistent harvest.

Peppers – Can be a little more temperamental and need fertile, well-drained soil.

Potatoes – Throw some potatoes in the ground and before you know it, you’ll have a whole crop. Another vegetable that requires little maintenance.

Basil – Grows quite well, especially in good soil.

Cilantro – Try planting it in containers rather than in the garden and harvesting it every 2 weeks. This will keep it from getting tall and thin.

Oregano – This is actually a perennial herb that is easy to grow in the garden.

Pumpkin – Fairly easy to grow, but prone to fungus on the leaves. The fungus doesn’t always affect the harvest.

Corn – Easy to grow, but watch out for those squirrels! Chances are they will find the corn before you do!

Carrots – Another vegetable that can be a bit difficult to grow…… Plant in fertile, well-drained soil.

If these plants can survive with me, chances are they can survive with you too! 🙂

How much space do they need?

Let’s discuss each one and how, in general, they should be laid out and how much space each one needs.

Tomatoes – Plant several tomato plants together, leaving enough space for them to spread to maturity. I planted several varieties, one for popping like a cherry, one for slicing in sandwiches, and one for sauces. The plants grow very large compared to the initial small plants, usually greater than 4 feet tall and 2-3 feet wide.

Courgette – This plant takes up so much space that you may only need one (seriously, no one eats that much courgette). You may end up bringing some to your neighbors or co-workers. It’s only about 1-2 feet tall, but at least 3 feet wide.

Lettuce – Lettuce you want to plant in rows and label well so you know where it is. When the small leaves appear it will be difficult to tell if it is a weed or not. You will also be harvesting a lot of lettuce at once, so plant several rows, a week apart.

Peppers – Plant at least 2-3 pepper plants together. They are usually not as big as tomato plants and the harvest is less obvious, so you will need to plant a few in your garden.

Potatoes – I put a few potatoes in the compost pile and lo and behold, come autumn, I had a very healthy potato crop! That’s why I need to grow a few potatoes. A few potatoes are all you need! You won’t look like you have a lot on top of the soil, just a tall, somewhat skinny plant.

Basil – add this plant anywhere in your garden. It has shiny green leaves that are very attractive and small white flowers. You probably won’t need more than one plant unless you plan to dry it and use it as a spice all year round. Grows to about 2-3 feet and 1-2 feet wide.

Cilantro – try growing it in a container rather than in the garden and harvesting it every 2 weeks. This will keep it from getting tall and thin. Even better, plant 2 containers and alternate harvesting one every week.

Oregano – Plant this plant every year and you will see it come back time and time again. Its spreading habit can actually cause some problems, so be careful where you decide to put it.

Pumpkins – Oh my goodness, these pumpkins need space! You will probably only get a few pumpkins. You may only get a few pumpkins from each plant, but it will grow into this long trailing plant that meanders around the garden. Pumpkin vines can easily grow to 10 feet or more, with large leaves that will eventually keep other plants out. Don’t plant these next to lettuce or you’ll never see it again!

Corn – Corn should be planted in 2 rows with at least 2-4 plants to ensure cross-pollination.

Carrots – Same advice as lettuce, plant several rows, a week apart each, to ensure a consistent harvest. As with potatoes, there is not much happening above ground and they don’t spread much.

That concludes my advice on how to set up your garden. I hope this helps you get a head start on your own yard.

If you want more specific plans on how to set up your garden, check out Free Garden Plans for Small Houses in the Suburbs. I love this site.

Remember, when it comes to gardening, there really are no mistakes! Everything is a learning experience …… Everything is a learning experience …… Some things will work for you and some won’t.

Whatever you do, feel free to explore all the ways you can set up your garden.

By Colleen

I'm your average, everyday kind of gardener; I learned from trial and error and reading magazines; gardening for many years. ....Since I was about 23 and a first-time homeowner. I’m also a working mom with a wonderful husband. We keep busy with our yard and garden, and also the visits from our 6 grown children and other family and friends that we entertain on the weekends.

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