Nothing beats the taste of fresh veggies or the fragrance and beauty of flowers – all in your backyard. Maintaining a backyard garden is one of the best ways to connect with nature while saving costs on sustaining a healthy diet. If you’re stuck on how to start a backyard garden, then you’re in the right place.
Here’s how you can start a backyard garden in 7 easy steps:
- Identify your climate zone.
- Choose an ideal location.
- Choose the type of vegetables and flowers to grow.
- Test and prepare the soil.
- Create a garden bed.
- Plant your seeds or seedlings.
- Maintain and care for your garden.
You can turn your backyard into a productive garden, no matter how small it is. This article will lay out all you need to do to start and maintain a healthy vegetable and flower garden. Read on to learn more!
1. Identify Your Climate Zone
Identifying and understanding your climate zone is crucial when starting a backyard garden.
Your region’s climate will determine what crop varieties you can grow and the best time to plant them. Therefore, being a successful gardener includes planting the right kind of vegetables and flowers at the right time.
The United States Department for Agriculture (USDA) has divided the country into 13 plant hardiness zones, depending on their average annual temperatures. Additionally, the institution has been able to get a better understanding of the vegetables, herbs, flowers, and fruiting plants that thrive in each region. Therefore, you can use your location’s Zip Code to identify which zone you live in.
The American Horticultural Society also has a heat zone map that displays different regions in the US and the average number of hot days (temperatures above 86 °F (30 °C)). For instance, most parts of Missouri have 60 to 90 hot days. Therefore, gardeners in these regions can plant warmth-requiring plants more frequently throughout the year, even during spring and fall.
However, the Midwest region also experiences wide temperature variations that can confuse a farmer. However, if your location has some southern or eastern exposure, with some trees or buildings to the north, you can have an ideal microclimate to establish your backyard garden. It’s even better if the site is in an elevated area where cold air can flow away from the plants seamlessly on brisk, clear nights.
After determining your climatic zone, the next thing to do is identify the planting season’s duration in that region. You can do so by checking the start and the end of the frost dates – the time between the last spring frost and the early fall frost. Through this process, by the time you’ll settle on what plants to grow, you’ll be well informed on the best time to plant and harvest them.
All vegetables, except asparagus and rhubarb, are annual crops. So, they grow and mature within a year. Some are cool-season plants that flourish in spring and early fall, while the warm-season crops thrive during hot summer days.
Therefore, it is recommendable to have a planting calendar that guides you on the most appropriate time to plant a specific crop. For instance, the Missouri University’s extension services have created a vegetable planting calendar that guides the region’s gardeners on the right dates to plant their veggies in spring and fall. It also provides some nutritional information on these vegetables.
If you’re not based in Missouri, you can determine the right planting season by getting information from various platforms. These sources point out or calculate the frost dates per region and include the following:
Online Charts and Calculators
Online charts and calculators are available on gardening or seed suppliers’ websites. By simply entering your location’s zip code, the calculators will quantify the average number of frost dates in that region.
Other sites provide an option for users to look up the best planting season based on their region’s climate zone.
Most brands put a lot of useful information in their seeds’ packaging. This information can provide another way of determining the appropriate time to plant a particular crop.
Therefore, most seed packets will have information on the crop’s maturity days. If you already know your region’s planting season (and the frost dates), the information given on your seeds’ packaging will shed light on the right planting date. However, due to climate change, frost may come early or late.
Therefore, extending the growing season by 2 to 4 weeks is advisable if it is earlier than expected. Alternatively, you can keep up with the early frost dates by planting your seeds indoors first.
Gardening centers offer vital information on the growing seasons per region. For this reason, before setting up your backyard garden, you can visit your local gardening center for some thorough information.
There, you might find charts or maps displaying the native crops and the best time to plant them. Additionally, you can consult the experts on the best local plants to grow.
USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map
This map provides vital information on the right crops to plant depending on their hardiness zones.
The USDA categorizes regions according to their average minimum temperatures and suggests both annual and perennial crops that do well in those regions. Therefore, with this information, you can’t go wrong when it comes to finding the best vegetables to plant in your garden and when to do so.
NOAA National Climate Report
Weather patterns may change, and it’s wise to predict what the current planting year will look like. Luckily, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information provides an annual climatic report. This report also highlights the year’s freezing dates, enabling farmers to predict the coming year’s frost dates.
2. Choose an Ideal Location
Your backyard garden’s location can significantly affect your veggies and flowers. So, it’s advisable to choose an area that best fits your specific plants’ needs.
A good vegetable or flower garden location will make gardening more pleasant and optimize your plants’ health and survival rate.
The ideal site should have the following features:
- Exposed to sunlight: Plants require light to grow. Therefore, an area with 6 to 8 hours of daily sunlight is ideal for a backyard garden.
- Fertile and well-drained soil: Veggies and flowers don’t thrive in thin, nutrient-poor, or waterlogged soil. Therefore, ensure that the soil is nutrient-rich by adding compost or organic fertilizers. If your site isn’t well-drained, you can prepare raised beds or rows to plant your crops.
- Flat area: Is also preferable since steep sites can promote soil erosion. However, if the location is not flat, you can dig and level it up.
- Accessible and near a water source: your veggies and flowers will require sufficient water. Therefore, it’s best to have your backyard garden near your kitchen or a water source. Additionally, the garden should be accessible for convenient care and management.
- Site surrounded by trees or buildings: It’s also preferable to have a site surrounded by trees or buildings to counter strong winds that could knock over your plants. Moreover, make sure not to choose a site with too much foot traffic. The aim is to protect your vegetables and flowers from being trodden on.
- Spacious: although starting your garden in a small space is preferable, it should be big enough for the number of plants you want to include. You don’t want your veggies to be crammed up, as they’ll be stressed and not flourish. A 10 by 10 feet (3.04 by 3.04 meter) plot size is manageable, but a newbie can start with 6 by 6 feet and have a selection of 5 vegetable types to grow.
Now, if your space is limited, you can maximize it by:
- Preparing raised beds: A 4 by 4 (or 4×8) raised bed is ideal for beginners. Raised beds can produce up to four times more crops than planting rows. Their loose and well-drained soils enable optimum plant growth.
- Planting in containers: Containers come in handy in backyard gardens with restricted space. Don’t be limited on your choice of containers. You can plant your veggies in pots, hanging baskets, recycled containers (such as old wine crates), and window boxes. However, make sure that these containers are well-drained and suited to your choice of veggies or flowers.
- Using trellis: These are vertical surfaces for growing climbing plants, such as beans, peas, and tomatoes. If your backyard garden space is small, you’d want to maximize it, ensuring you don’t leave behind your favorite veggies. Therefore, you can put your creative foot forward and use the available materials to make your trellis, including rustic sticks, wood panels, metal, weld mesh, and bamboo.
3. Choose the Type of Vegetables and Flowers To Grow
As I mentioned earlier, your climate zone is a significant determinant of what kind of plants you can grow in your backyard garden. However, your preferences and other circumstantial factors can also determine what is best to include in your garden.
Here are other factors to consider when choosing what type of veggies or flowers to plant:
- Your (and your family’s) preferences: What do you or your family members love to eat? If your kids love carrots and cherry tomatoes, why not include them in your backyard garden? Additionally, if you want a beautiful site that will attract pollinators, consider combining your veggies with flowers.
- Availability of high-quality seeds: To avoid losses from poor-yielding crops, always go for high-quality seeds. If you can’t access high-quality seeds for your preferred vegetable, consider an alternative.
- Care and maintenance: Some plants require more care requirements than others. Therefore, before you decide to grow your favorite types of vegetables (and flowers), identify their maintenance needs. If you’re limited on time and resources, don’t overplant or grow crops that will exhaust you.
- Cold-season or warm-season plants: Furthermore, consider growing cold-season or warm-season plants, depending on your availability. For example, if you’re planning to have a summer vacation away from home, don’t plant warm-season crops that will require intensive care and maintenance.
- Availability of veggies in your locality: What kind of vegetables are available in your grocery store? If you’re planning to plant veggies for sale, consider growing those that aren’t readily available or higher-priced varieties. Flowers are also a good combination, as you can sell them to flower dealers. This will give you an upper hand in sales, allowing you to earn some additional income from your backyard garden.
Here are some of the best vegetables to grow in your backyard garden:
Lettuce is one of the most popular cold-season vegetables, and it’s easy to see why. The plant grows quickly and continues to reproduce for a long time, despite having few maintenance requirements. It’s advisable to plant lettuce seeds two weeks before the last spring frost for the crispiest, greenest end result.
One of the most nutritious leafy vegetables, Swiss chard is endowed with vitamins (A, C, and K), minerals, phytochemicals, and fiber. It is also a cold-season crop, though it tolerates high temperatures, making it ideal for salads. Swiss chard requires sufficient growing space, and it is a good ornamental vegetable due to its appealing rainbow colors.
They are the most sought-after warm-season vegetable, requiring 6-8 hours of sunlight. Bush and cherry varieties are ideal for backyard gardens. Tomatoes have a long growing period (60 – 100 days), so they require a lot of care and time dedication. However, their use in the kitchen is extensive, which is why they’re often viewed as a worthwhile investment.
Like tomatoes, peppers are warm-season veggies with a long growing period. Several pepper varieties are suitable for backyard gardens, including bell pepper, jalapeno, and hot or spicy chilies. However, bell peppers are the most nutritious variety, comprising vitamins, folate potassium, and niacin. You can first grow pepper seeds indoors or wait to plant seedlings outdoors when the soil has warmed up.
Carrots are among the most popular and easiest to grow root vegetables that are packed with nutrients providing a wide range of health benefits. They require loose sandy soil and cooler growing periods. It is preferable to plant them in raised beds if the soil is too rocky or thick clay.
Members of the summer squash family, e.g., zucchini, are warm-season vegetables that thrive in moist soil. They’re easy to grow and comprise various nutrients, including vitamins (A, B1, B2, and B6), folate, magnesium, potassium, copper, calcium, niacin, phosphorus, and zinc. Zucchini are vigorous growers, and each plant will produce several fruits at its peak.
A favorite vegetable among gardeners, green beans are also extremely easy to grow. They’re highly productive veggies and are good sources of plant proteins, carbs, fiber, antioxidants, and various minerals. Bush and pole are the two most popular categories of green beans and the bush variety have the least maintenance needs.
They are fast-growing root veggies that require fertile soil. Radishes are easy-to-grow cold-season plants that thrive in spring and fall. They’re also nutritious, comprising vitamin B6, copper, manganese, calcium, magnesium, and fiber.
Herbs and flowers are essential companion plants to incorporate into your backyard garden. Most herbs have immense health benefits, while others help keep bugs and pests away. Flowers not only improve your garden’s appearance but also attract pollinators and minimize pest invasion.
So, what are the best herbs to plant in your backyard garden?
- Basil: Native to India, basil is a globally renowned ingredient in many recipes, especially salads and Mediterranean dishes. It is a warm-season herb that can’t stand frost or cold weather. It also thrives in fertile soil, preferably greenhouses, kitchen window sills, and containers.
- Parsley: Another edible herb, parsley is a popular garnish in soups, stews, and fishcakes. You can plant the biennial herb in spring and summer. Parsley prefers nutrient-rich soil in containers or backyard plots with enough water and sunlight.
- Mint: Mint is a fragrant and hardy herb, a sought-after additive to beverages, salads, and sauces. Its health benefits also make it a popular herbal remedy. Mint grows vigorously and can be invasive if uncontrolled. Several mint varieties exist, including spearmint, peppermint, pineapple, orange, apple, and chocolate mint.
- Oregano: It’s a drought-resistant herb that flourishes in dry areas. The easy-to-maintain herb can be grown on the ground or in containers. Oregano is a perfect companion for vegetables such as beans and broccoli due to its pest-repelling ability. You can grow the herb from seeds, cuttings, or container plants.
- Rosemary: it’s a fragrant and nutritious herb. Rosemary is believed to cure various ailments, as it has been utilized as an herbal remedy for ages. Its evergreen needle-like leaves are good additives to beverages, roast meats, and puddings. Due to its lush white, pink, blue, or purple flowers, rosemary is also used in landscaping and as an ornamental herb.
- Lavender: renowned for its strong fragrance, lavender is a must-have flowering herb in your backyard garden. Its appealing purple, violet-blue, pale pink or white blossoms will add a great appeal to your garden. Most importantly, lavender repels several vegetable pests, rodents, and deer. The herb flourishes in lean, alkaline, and well-drained soils with sufficient exposure to sunlight.
Here are ideal flower types to include in your backyard garden:
They’re flowering herbs that are best-suited for cottage gardens. Borage produces pink or blue flowers that attract bees, facilitating pollination. The leaves and flowers are also edible and have a cucumber-like taste. Borage is fast-growing and has minimal care requirements once you’ve sowed the seed.
The flowering herb thrives in fertile, moist, and well-drained soil.
Also referred to as Calendula, pot marigold belongs to the daisy family of flowers. It produces bright orange, yellow, or cream blossoms that are a haven for pollinators.
Pot marigold is also a hardy annual plant that repels pests, including tomato hornworms and asparagus beetles. But it also attracts aphids, and you can strategically plant it on the other side of the garden as a trap crop.
Pot marigold flourishes in nutrient-rich and well-drained soils, with a slightly acid or near-neutral pH.
Poached Egg Flower
As its name suggests, this flower resembles a poached egg, as it entails white petals surrounding a yellow core. The poached egg flower is one of the best flowering plants to include in your garden since it’s attractive to pollinators.
Moreover, it serves as a perfect landscaping flowering plant due to its low cushion of feathery foliage. The poached egg flower also attracts hoverflies that will keep pests away from your vegetable garden.
A cold-season flowering plant, nasturtium blooms from spring to fall. It is also an edible plant comprising delicious leaves, flowers, and seeds. The flowers are yellow, orange, red, or cream-colored, depending on the variety. Nasturtium is one of the best flowering plants to grow in your vegetable garden if you’ve planted squash as it repels squash bugs and beetles.
However, it also attracts aphids, and you can utilize it as a trap crop. Nasturtium flourishes in averagely fertile, slightly acidic, and well-drained soil.
Another common flowering plant, the sunflower, is attractive to pollinators due to its large nectar-rich flowers. It also serves as a natural trellis for climbing plants, as it grows tall and strong. The annual plant thrives when exposed to sunlight. It also prefers moist, averagely fertile, and well-drained soil.
One of its downsides is that sunflowers attract squirrels. However, if you want to save its precious seeds, it is advisable to plant coarse leafed vegetables like squash underneath to keep the rodents at bay.
The cosmos is a fast-growing and fully blooming plant, an excellent addition to a vegetable garden. The flowering plant attracts beneficial insects that help in keeping pests at bay. For instance, the bright orange and white cosmos varieties are attractive to green lacewings, which feed on thrips, aphids, and scale.
Other varieties produce pink, red, purple, and yellow flowers. Cosmos is also attractive to bees and butterflies that pollinate flowering veggies, including tomatoes and runner beans.
Petunias are flowering plants that bloom during summer. Their relaxed pastel colors would be a sight to behold in your backyard garden. Petunias will also attract pollinators, including bees and butterflies, to your garden. Additionally, they repel bugs and pests, such as bean beetles.
Four petunia varieties exist, including Grandiflora, Multiflora, Milliflora, and spreading petunias. Petunias have few maintenance requirements when it comes to regular watering, the addition of fertilizers, and exposure to sunlight. If you want to optimize their health and longevity, you’ll want to remove spent blooms and seeds from the flower’s base.
Sweet pea is another attractive flowering plant to include in your vegetable garden. Although not edible for humans, sweet peas are food to other animals. Therefore, if you plan to plant it in your backyard garden, ensure that it is well protected.
Sweet pea is an annual plant that flourishes in rich, slightly moist, and well-drained soil. Its flowers are excellent attractions to insects that pollinate edible beans. Sweet pea varieties have several flower colors, including pink, red, blue, white, and purple.
If you love chamomile tea, you might as well grow the plant in your backyard. Chamomile is renowned since its flowers have medicinal value. It has long been used as a mild sedative and a natural remedy for stomach ailments.
Moreover, it’s one of the best companion plants due to its value in vegetable gardens.
Some of the benefits include:
- Chamomile helps keep worms and moths from veggies in the cabbage family, including broccoli, cabbages, and kales.
- Its presence helps in more oil production in basil.
- Chamomile attracts beneficial insects such as hoverflies and ladybugs that feed on aphids in cucumbers.
- Its antifungal and antibacterial properties make chamomile an ideal companion plant for fruit trees since it aids in preventing infections.
4. Test and Prepare the Soil
After settling on the types of vegetables and flowers (and herbs) you plan on planting, you should ensure that your garden’s location has the ideal soil to support their growth.
Before you even prepare the soil, it’s advisable to test it to determine its properties. For instance, some plants require slightly acidic soils, while others thrive in alkaline or neutral soils.
Most vegetables thrive in fertile, deep, and well-drained soils. So, apart from pH, a soil test can reveal whether your soil is nutrient-rich or lacks some essential vitamins and minerals. Additionally, the test shows what type of soil you have, whether loamy, clay, or sandy.
Most local USDA cooperative extension service offices offer soil testing services. Therefore, if there’s one in your neighborhood, you can take a sample there to be tested. However, if you’re a newbie when it comes to gardening, it’s preferable to have the officials visit your home and collect the soil sample.
The soil test report will show whether your soil has the right conditions for plant growth, depending on what type of plants you want to grow in your backyard garden. If the site hasn’t been tilled before, the soil is likely fertile, requiring no amendments. However, if it is nutrient-deficient, lacks the preferable pH, or doesn’t have the best consistency, the report will have recommendations on what you need to do.
You can also request a toxicity test to determine if your soil contains any toxins, including lead and arsenic. If the results show higher than the accepted levels, it’s not advisable to plant edible plants on the land. However, you can create raised garden beds with a barrier to prevent the roots from reaching the soil.
After ensuring that your soil is in perfect condition for planting, the next step is to prepare it. To do so, you’ll need a handful of gardening tools. These include the following:
- Shovels: Have curved blades and are used in digging deep into the soil.
- Pitchforks: Are useful when digging new lands because they penetrate through hard soil, enabling the removal of rocks.
- Garden hoe: Is used for digging seed, planting holes, and moving the soil.
- Scuffle hoe: Is best suited for weedings, as it comprises a sharp open loop at the end for chopping off the unwanted crop.
- Potting soil scoop: Is effective in filling pots and planters.
- Soil knife: Is best suited for cutting through roots and hard soil.
- Garden rake: Is essential in moving dirt, leaves, mulch, and grass clippings.
Soil preparation involves the following activities:
Clearing the Planting Area
This involves removing weeds (preferably by hand), bushes, or turf. You can keep the turf for later use as the topsoil on the grow beds. If you had a lawn on the location, you could use a gas-powered sod cutter to remove the excessive grass. Either way, you can’t move on to any of the following steps before ensuring your planting area is clean and weed-free.
Digging the Land
You can dig the land to prepare new garden plots. Therefore, if your land hasn’t been used before, dig 12″ to 18″ (30.48 cm to 45.72 cm) deep while removing any rocks and roots. You can use a pitchfork in this case since it penetrates deep into the soil.
Alternatively, you can choose not to till the land to avoid disturbing the soil bacteria and worms. In this case, spread a layer of compost over the plot after getting rid of weeds and debris. A cardboard cover is also ideal if the weeds are stubborn, as it helps to decompose them while maintaining the soil texture.
Checking the Moisture Level
It is advisable to have the right moisture level in soil, as most plants don’t do well in waterlogged terrains. Therefore, ensure that your soil isn’t wet during planting – it shouldn’t clump or stick to your boots. If the area is flooded, drain the water by digging a shallow trench or forming a raised growing bed.
Developing the Appropriate Soil Texture
A good soil texture facilitates aeration. Most plants thrive in loose and well-aerated soils. Therefore, if yours seems clumpy, it might be a good idea to add coir or pleats to loosen it up. The right texture improves root growth and worm activity, so make sure not to skip this step.
Improving the Soil’s Fertility
A nutrient-rich soil promotes plant growth and health. You can enrich your soil by adding compost, animal manure, green manure, or sea soil. Rock dust is also a beneficial additive to soils, as it provides vital nutrients that promote the development of the root systems of trees, herbs, shrubs, and vegetables.
5. Create a Garden Bed
Growing crops in garden beds is an effective way of increasing yields. If you’ll be planting different vegetables, herbs, and flowers, it’s wise to have several beds according to each plants’ requirements. Additionally, ensure that each bed is not more than 4 feet (1.21 meter) wide for easy management.
Having multiple garden beds also facilitates crop rotation, contributing to higher productivity. The number of beds to have in your backyard garden will depend on the latter’s size and shape. Moreover, the plants you plan on having in your garden will also guide you on how many beds you’ll need to prepare.
When creating your garden beds, always leave enough space for pathways, approximately 21″ to 24″ (53.34 cm to 60.96 cm) would be ideal. You’ll want to make sure they aren’t too wide to avoid weeds creeping in.
The soil depth in each bed will depend on what type of garden bed you’re creating and the type of crops you want to plant. There are two garden bed categories: raised beds and in-ground beds. So, let’s have a look at their features:
Raised Garden Beds
They are deeper than in-ground garden beds. Raised garden beds are preferable in colder climates, as the soil warms faster in spring. These beds save up space and time while facilitating maximum plant growth.
Raised garden beds have the best-drained soils; therefore, they prevent compaction. Furthermore, they prevent weeds and pests from invading your garden. It’s also easier to manage crops on these beds since the soil is raised (minimal bending).
In-Ground Garden Beds
They are the cheapest and are the easiest garden beds to establish. They also require less watering during hot seasons. However they are not as deep as their raised counterparts, making drainage less efficient. Moreover, since the soil isn’t raised, crops are more likely to be trampled on, while pests (and weeds) will have an easier time invading the site.
Creating garden beds is usually the last step when preparing the soil for planting. Therefore, once you’ve chosen your preferred type of garden bed and established it, level the soil to enable uniform water distribution. Additionally, make sure to mulch the pathways between the beds to prevent weeds from sprouting.
Note: You should avoid stepping on the bed after soil preparation, as it compresses the soil, inhibiting aeration. Therefore, if you need to step on the bed, place a wooden plank to the top to ensure a uniform weight distribution across the bed.
6. Plant Your Seeds or Seedlings
Planting is another crucial step when starting your backyard garden. However, before you plant, you need to decide whether you’ll use seeds, seedlings, or cuttings. Planting seeds is cost-effective, but it can have some challenges, including failure to sprout. Seedlings are a good option if you don’t want to wait for a long time.
However, avoid buying large seedlings that have outgrown their pots, as they’ll find it difficult to adapt to garden beds. Therefore, it might be best to seek advice from experts at your local nursery or commercial greenhouses before settling on whether to plant seeds or seedlings.
You should also learn more about the appropriate time to plant each crop and their environmental (and nutritional) requirements.
Here are some guidelines on planting your vegetables:
- Before planting seeds, check the appropriate sowing depth indicated on the seed packet. Then, sow the seeds and cover them with a thin soil layer, tapping them gently with your palm. After planting, water the garden bed, and keep doing so regularly (whenever the surface dries out).
- When planting seedlings, gently remove the plant from the pot, ensuring that the soil remains intact. If the roots are bound tightly, loosen them up using your hands or a knife. Then, plant the young plants in a hole, covering only the root area with topsoil.
- Some veggies, including lettuce and peas, are cold-season crops. Therefore, plant them in early spring and fall. Contrastingly, summer is the best time to plant warm-season vegetables such as tomatoes and cucumbers when the soils have warmed up.
- To avoid shading your veggies (except those that prefer shade), plant tall crops on the northern side of your garden. You can also use trellises to plant climbing veggies such as pole beans.
- Identify the growing (or maturity) period of your crops before planting. Most seed packets include the ‘days to maturity’ information.
- You can create temporary garden beds for annual veggies. However, have permanent beds for perennial vegetables, including asparagus and rhubarbs.
- Stagger the planting times for your vegetables to avoid harvesting them all simultaneously.
- Grow your plants in triangles rather than rows to save on space, but don’t crowd them, as this will limit their productivity.
7. Maintain and Care for Your Garden
After planting your veggies, fruits, and flowers, it’s essential to take good care of them to optimize their growth and longevity. Maintenance and care requirements will vary, depending on the type of plants in your backyard garden.
However, some general care and maintenance tips include:
- Watering: Plants require enough water to survive and thrive. If it’s not raining, water your veggies, flowers, and herbs regularly. However, the necessary amount will depend on the season, the plant’s specific requirements, and the type of soil in your garden.
- Feeding: Your plants will require a consistent supply of nutrients. Therefore, you’ll often have to add some form of fertilizer, especially during their initial growth phases, depending on their nutritional requirements. Organic fertilizers are the best since they’re eco-friendly and readily available.
- Mulching: It’s important to conserve water, especially during the dry season. Mulching helps prevent evaporation by keeping the soil moist. Since mulch comprises organic matter, it houses beneficial organisms (such as worms and microbes) that enrich and aerate the soil.
- Weeding: Weeds in a garden compete with the crops to take up nutrients and water. Keeping the weeds away, especially in spring, will ensure that your plants have sufficient nutrients to keep them healthy and strong.
- Pruning: If your plants have overgrown, you need to prune them. Pruning involves removing unnecessary branches or other plant parts. This will allow sunshine and air to penetrate.
- Monitoring: Your plant’s physical appearance will tell you what they need. If the leaves start yellowing, it could be that the soil is nutrient deficient or some pests have invaded your garden. Therefore, it’s crucial to always look for any worrying signs, including deformed leaves, weak plants, or pest and wildlife invasion.
Lastly, in your routine visits to the garden, you’ll start noticing when some vegetables are mature enough for harvesting. For example, lettuce, cucumbers, and spring beans mature fast and need picking every couple of days. If this is the case, always try to harvest them at their peaks to avoid spoilage.
Starting a backyard garden may seem like a strenuous activity, but it’s rewarding. It can be daunting for beginners, and crop failure can be a great challenge. But, with good agricultural practices, dedication, and patience, you will reap big from your vegetable and flower garden.
You can read my other article on how to start a flower garden here: How To Start a Flower Garden From Scratch (DIY Guide)