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Starting Your Garden

I wholeheartedly believe anyone, anywhere, can grow food. House or condo, rural or city, desert or mountain, with a little planning and ingenuity it can be done. While every garden is different, there are a few basic steps that make the process much easier.

Draw Out Your Entire Plan

If you’re new to gardening, or are starting a new garden, start small. Drawing out your yard can help you decide where to start. Include any elevations and the angle of the sun during all four seasons. This plan doesn’t have to be final, it can be altered as time passes and needs change, but it will give you an idea of where to start.

Start Small You can add to your garden every year. The first year in a new garden can very quickly be overwhelming and, depending on where you live, you may have something unexpected come up that will affect how you garden next year. I have been gardening for over three decades, and whenever we move to a new home I start small to make sure I won’t encounter something unexpected that may wipe out my entire garden.

Consider Your Water Source

How are you planning to water? By hand? Using swales to contain water? Sprinklers? These are all important when it comes to watering, and so is a back-up watering source. By drawing out your garden plan, you may realize it's wiser to move your planter bed, or to add a swale to collect water. Also, try to find a way to water at or near ground level. This reduces water use as it won’t get blown away or evaporate and plants usually prefer to be watered below their leaves.

Decide What You Want To Plant Grow plants that you would actually eat. If you won’t eat cauliflower, don’t plant it! That would be a waste of time and resources. Instead grow what you and your family might purchase at a grocery store or farmer’s market.

Start From Seed

This is the most efficient way to grow most produce. Depending on where you live and your zone you may have to start indoors or you can direct plants outside. Choose seeds that are heirloom and/or open pollinated, and organic whenever possible. Try to buy local seeds. Local seeds will be somewhat predisposed to handle your area’s weather, which will help them adapt better. If you must buy from a seed company, buy from one that sells seeds for your area. Many online seed companies state whether their seeds are open pollinated, non-gmo, and heirloom.

Any Planter Will Do

You don’t have to use chemicals or spend a lot of money to start a garden. Just remember what your garden needs. Rocks, gravel, or other mediums at the bottom for drainage, (when using a planter or container). Dirt with compost for nutrients the plants need. Homemade compost is always best and the cheapest compost. Add worms to your planters, you may not need them in ground level planters. Cover any dirt with mulch that is natural and free of paint. If you can make your own, even better!


Setting up your garden efficiently is key for starting a great garden. By planning ahead you can reduce the amount of work you put into it, saving time for other things. Depending on the setup and size of your garden you can get away with spending less than 15 minutes in it daily until harvest.

Do you have a tip for creating an effective garden space? Share it in the comments!



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