Gardening is a venture that not only nourishes the body, but also the spirit. The satisfaction you feel as you cultivate, tend to and protect your plants is indescribable. A gardener recognizes the gratification of harvesting a plant when it reaches fruition or selecting the perfect flower to brighten their home. Here are 10 steps to get you started.

Step 1: Know your soil

Before selecting seeds or plants for your garden, you should test your soil. Testing and knowing what type of soil you are working with is important to plant protection.

  • Sandy soil will be dry and gritty. It will not hold nutrients for your plants or seedlings.
  • Silty soil has smaller particles than sandy soil and is smooth. However it does not retain the nutrients as well and retains too much water.
  • Clay soil is clumpy, as you can imagine. It is difficult to work with especially in the summer.
  • Peat soil is rich in organic matter when saturated. Peat is great for regulating the acidic quality in soil and is a preferred soil in non-dry environments.
  • Saline soil is dry (high salt components) and can damage the roots or impedes the growth of your plants.

You can bring a sample of your soil to your local garden experts for testing. They will recommend which plants and seedling are best for your type of soil or make suggestions as to the proper treatment best suited for plant protection and growth.

Step 2: Selecting your garden sites

Dependent on the type of garden you desire, it will determine the location of your garden(s). If you want plants that require mostly sun, the area of your garden should face east. For moderate to part-shade plants, select a growing area with late afternoon sun or shade.

You may want to consider investing in a greenhouse. Greenhouses are a gardener’s dream. A greenhouse not only allows you to select the perfect soil for your plants and seedlings, it also provides plant protection. Benefits of a greenhouse are numerous. They protect your plants from inclement weather and provide pest control. Additionally, you decide how much water and light your plants obtain. You can also take advantage of a greenhouse by starting your seedlings under controlled conditions to ensure their growth and production. Another great feature of a greenhouse is your protection. You can garden to your heart’s delight, regardless of time of day or weather conditions.

Step 3: Mapping out or designing your garden area

What type of garden are you hoping for: flowers, veggies, herbs, or all of these? Start by marking off the desired area(s). This should give you an idea of how big your garden(s) will be and how much land they will consume. If you have artistic ability, I would suggest you sketch it out on paper to gain a clearer idea of what you are looking for. Keep in mind your plants need protection during your planning. You wouldn’t want them destroyed by neighborhood wildlife/domestic animals, children, car fumes or the like.

Step 4: Preparing the ground

Now it is time to get down and dirty and prepare the ground. Selecting the appropriate tools to accomplish this in the most efficient manner should be your next consideration. If your garden is small, then manual garden tools may be best suited. If the area is rather large or you have physical limitations or concerns, consider renting or purchasing a garden tiller.

Just dig in, whether using a shovel, garden claw or tiller, break ground. As you move along, separate the soil from the grass or weeds. Try to get all the unwanted roots to protect your plants and enhance the garden’s appearance. This will also help in minimizing maintenance in the upcoming weeks. Take care to remove all stones, glass and other non-garden debris before moving to step 5.

Step 5: The proper soil mix for your garden

Add an appropriate amount of fertilizer or manure to the soil and mix well. Do not over fertilize the soil as it can be unhealthy for your plants or could kill them. Your garden expert or the fertilizer bag should recommend the appropriate amount. A premium blend of garden soil should be turned in as well. This will provide the nutrients your plants may not get from the existing soil. You may need to add something to increase or decrease the acidic or alkaline levels in the soil. Re-add some stones for adequate water drainage and plant protection from root rot.

Step 6: Selecting your plants or seeds for your garden

You are now ready to plant. Select plants or seeds that best suit your growing conditions. Some plants complement one another. For instance, marigolds provide plant protection by warding off garden pests.

Consider keeping your veggies/herbs separate from flowers or shrubs as they have specific requirements for successful growth. As you go through the selection process, height and width, blooming time and color should be things to keep in mind. Veggie/herb gardens need the same considerations.

Step 7: Planting your garden

You are finally ready to put your plants or seeds in the ground. I would recommend before you start digging to place them, you lay them out in their perspective places. Take a step back and evaluate your layout. Address any concerns mentioned in step 6.

Plant garlic around your vegetable or herb garden for plant protection. Garlic is a natural and safe way to keep nuisance nibblers from invading your plants. Garlic cloves planted around the perimeter make a nice deterrent or you can spray your plants with a mix of water and crushed garlic to discourage pests from feasting.

Step 8: Tending your garden

Water your gardens regularly as specified. Watering in the early evening helps with water retention. Check the soil for acidity and alkalinity regularly as you may need to increase or decrease the levels dependent on your plants needs.

Step 9: Weeding and pruning

Gardens require weeding and pruning. Your work isn’t over yet. Weed often for plant protection from strangulation. Weeding helps the plants stay healthy as weeds rob your garden of nutrients and water. Pruning plants keeps them from over growth, unsightliness and promotes healthy new growth.

Step 10: Harvesting your fruits and vegetables

It is time to reap the benefits of your work and diligence. Remember plant protection is critical for a healthy successful garden. ENJOY!