Five Key Steps to Planning and Preparing Your Garden

Your garden’s success primarily rests on the quality of planning and preparation. Here are five vital steps to getting your garden right from the get go.

1. Starting Small

It’s best to err on the side of caution. So, do not bite more than you can comfortably chew. Buy a palm tree, because it’s small and useful for growing fruit as a beginning especially if you are fairly new to gardening. Start with a small area and enlarge it later as you hone your skills. A smaller garden is also easier to work on if you have a hectic schedule and find it hard to lock down time for tending to it.

When planting vegetables that you intend to use for your home meals, plan the garden in accordance to the anticipated yield. Take your family size into consideration. Plan for successive planting to ensure you have a fresh crop maturing regularly.

 2. Selecting Plant Varieties

One of the most exciting parts of planning a garden is deciding what plant varieties you’d like to grow. As a general rule, it’s best to go with seed varieties that are best suited to your environment. The better matched they are to the existing natural conditions, the less work and money you’ll need to make sure they thrive.

Take time to identify the best location, spacing and feeds. Leave adequate space between your chosen flower, herb and/or vegetable seeds (see to allow comfortable breathing and optimal nutrient uptake. Establish what plants will survive best. For instance, perennials hardly grow in certain areas and locations.


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3. Sowing

Soil mixes containing peat, vermiculite and perlite are ideal for bedding plants. Other than moisture and light, garden seeds also need warmth to germinate. A temperature of 70°F will usually work for most plant varieties.

Pay close attention to planting depth. Most varieties will grow well when the seed is just below the soil surface. A few, and especially flower varieties, require light for germination so should be left above the surface.

Some vegetables are best grown through direct seeding. These include cucumbers, peas, beans, parsnips, turnips, corn, pumpkins, radish and carrots. Those that do best when sowing begins indoors and the plants later transplanted outdoors include peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, onions and parsley.

4. Direct Seeding

Before embarking on direct seeding, the soil has to have the optimal moisture content and warmth. Make sure the soil is sufficiently dry before you start to work it. The ideal soil temperature for direct seeding depends on the plant variety.

Peas for instance can germinate at temperatures as low as 40°F. On the other hand, squash seeds may rot before sprouting if soil temperature is under 65°F. Ergo, a soil thermometer comes in handy.

5. Indoor Seeding and Transplanting

You can get a head start on the growing season when you start by sowing indoors. Indoor seeding allows you to provide the seedlings with the best environment for early growth. That means controlling fertility, moisture and temperature right.

Once the seeds have germinated, allow their leaf surface to dry. For optimal results, do not allow the seedlings to go through the night with wet leaves. After seedlings have developed their first set of true leaves, transplant them to a 4-inch pot.

There is no one perfect growing medium when it comes to bedding plants. One part peat moss, one part sand with fertilizer and two parts soil is often recommended. During the first week after transplanting, mist the plants frequently. Once they are well established, water thoroughly but less frequently.

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