How to Start a Garden

Hi, I'm Tricia, and organic gardener.

Organic vegetable gardening is very rewarding.

And whether you live in the countryside, in the city, or in the subarbs, you can enjoy homegrown vegetables.

Today, I'm at my friend Autumn's house and we're gonna start a brand new garden.

If this is your first garden, I recommend that you start small.

The worst thing that can happen is that you bite off more than you can chew.

Autumn has chosen this 20x20 space, but if you only have 5x10, that's fine too!

Site selection is important. You need a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight per day for vegetables,

and preferably more. If you're not sure how much sun you get,

you can use one of these SunCalc sunlight calculators and be sure you've chosen the right spot.

Avoid snuggling your site up against tall trees, their roots can affect the vegetable growth.

And if you do have trees, be sure that you have a clear southern exposure.

A very important consideration is your water source.

Do you have a hose bib or some other way to connect your irrigation that's close by to your site?

A major part of organic gardening is healthy, rich soil.

In order to know how to build your soil, a soil test is critical.

A soil test is going to tell you exactly what your garden already has, and what it needs.

Check our video on soil tests to learn how to take a good soil sample.

The next step is soil preparation, and you can prepare the soil by either using a tiller, a broadfork, or a digging fork.

If your soil is less compacted, broadforking, or using a digging fork, can be substituted for tilling.

This really only needs to be done initially.

Once you've tilled or worked the soil with a fork, it's time to add some good old organic compost,

which is teaming with beneficial microbes.

Next I'm going to build my soil beds by digging out the dirt from the pathways and putting it on the bed,

until the bed is about 6-8 inches in height.

The next step is to grade the bed.

And if you want to add some fertilizer per the soil test results, now is the time to do it.

3-4 foot wide beds are a better use of a home gardener's space than narrow rows

like you would see on a farm.

In addition, wide beds give your plants' roots more room to spread out.

To prevent weeds from growing in the pathways, you can put down cardboard or newspaper.

Just put it down in the pathways and then water it so it gets real heavy.

Make sure that the pieces of cardboard overlap.

After wetting down your cardboard, just add about a 2-3 inch layer of straw.

Water the whole garden area thoroughly. We've disturbed the soil so much that the weed seeds

are gonna come to the surface and germinate.

While you're waiting for the weeds to germinate, you can start setting up your drip irrigation system.

A couple of days later, come back using either the Hori Hori Weeder Rooter, stirrup hoe, or a colinear hoe and take out any young weeds.

Repeat this process a couple more times before you plant.

If you have deer, rabbits, or other wildlife, I highly recommend a deer fence.

Otherwise, all your hard work is going to be a donation to the local wildlife!

This deer fencing is relatively inexpensive and easy to install.

It's finally time to plant the certified organic vegetable starts and seeds.

I'm planting these peas and they grow really tall, so I'm gonna stake them with the bamboo.

And I'm planting them to the north of the garden, so that they don't shade out the other lower-growing plants

like the radishes I'm going to plant from seed.

Liquid fish and kelp are great fertilizers to help your little plants thrive.

They're often applied as a foliar spray, so make sure you have a good sprayer with a fine-tip nozzle.

So enjoy your little garden

and Grow Organic for Life!