hands holding beet roots When spring rolls around, many homeowners start wishing they had a garden for fresh flowers, vegetables and herbs. So, you start digging the dirt and find some plants at the local nursery. While the plants initially thrive, they’re gone by fall. In response, you’re often left wondering, “Could I have done something differently?”

If you want to have a garden by summer, you have to start planting in spring. However, any trees, bulbs or perennials are best left to the fall season. In either scenario, summer is the time to water your crops and keep them going strong until colder temperatures set in.

What’s the best way to get started?

1. Begin on a Small Scale

Don’t dig up your full yard and expect to turn it into a large vegetable garden. Instead, start small during your first season with a couple of raised beds. If these grow well, you can slowly start expanding next year.

As far as those raised beds are concerned, build them before the season begins, keeping them no more than four feet wide. Generally, you should be able to reach the center without having to actually step on the bed. Also make sure the soil is loose and uncompressed, rather than packed down. To create the bed itself, cut away the grass with a sod-cutting machine or a knife, or till the soil and rake away the grass. Essentially, you want to see the earth and create a barrier against weeds.

2. Plan Your Location

Don’t place your beds anywhere in the yard. Those of us in New England can take advantage of the region’s sunlight during the relatively short warm season. At-home gardeners are advised to place their plots on the side of the house receiving the most sunlight and avoid planting in the shade. At the same time, think about access to water, whether you’re adding an irrigation system or using a hose.

3. Enrich and Protect the Soil

No gardener should rely on dirt alone. Because you want your plants to receive as many nutrients as possible, plan for a mix of compost or aged mushroom soil – ideally, in a 50/50 ratio with your garden’s natural soil. This can vary with your region’s natural soil type, so be sure to do your research first.

Additionally, you have to protect your plants from weeds and continue to improve the garden’s soil. One common strategy is to spread a bed of mulch around two inches thick on top. While you can purchase bags of it, many in New England opt to save and shred their fall leaves instead.

4. Avoid Seeds Your First Year

Is this your first time planting a garden? Experts recommend staying away from seeds, as they can require more maintenance. Start with the pre-planted ones from your local hardware or garden store and practice watering and providing them with nutrients.

Next year when everything is set up, you’ll have had more time to understand different plant types and how to properly nurture them.

5. Make a Maintenance Plan

Speaking of watering and plant types, get into a schedule of the following tasks:

  • Planting and staking
  • Dividing up your plots
  • Cutting back plants
  • Weeding
  • Layering mulch
  • Watering

Some plants tend to be more demanding and temperamental than others and will need more of your attention. Once you stick to a schedule, you can understand your garden’s rhythm and the individual needs of each plant, rather than playing catch-up because beds are overgrown with weeds.

To have a garden, you first need a home with the right amount of yard space! If you’re in the market for a new property, turn your attention to By Carrier’s communities. To learn about our custom homes, give us a call today.

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