10 Steps to a Backyard Garden

 
Have you ever wanted to grow your own food? Starting a garden is one of the most rewarding  experiences.. It’s also a great way to teach your children valuable life lessons with hands on experience. However, figuring out where to begin can be tricky! Here are 10 steps to make it easier! 
 
Step 1:  Planning
 
Consider what you want to grow and the season? Do you want vegetables, herbs or flowers? If you want to grow vegetables or herbs identify which vegetables you and your family would want or like to eat. Different vegetables grow in different seasons as well as flowers. Start small until you know what you want and what you’re getting into. Check out this link to help you decide what to plant: Florida Gardening Calendar
 
Step 2: Location
 
Picking the right spot for your garden is a big decision. Vegetables and flowers need around six to eight hours of full sun a day. With that being said watch your yard throughout the day to see what area gets the most sun exposure. If your yard is more shaded, there are plants that enjoy more shade than sun. 
 
Step 3: Clearing the ground
 
It’s time to get your hands dirty! Clearing the ground is an important part of your garden. You want to cut and slice the sod with a spade shovel. Once this step  is completed, replant the sod or put it in your compost pile to decompose. 
 
Step 4: Improving the soil 
 
Vegetables and flowers grow better when the soil has been fertilized. With  new gardens, the topsoil may have  been stripped away or eroded. Generally residential soil needs a boost. Your soil could be too wet, infertile or too acidic. To help with this issue add a 2-3-inch layer of compost consisting of decayed leaves, dry grass clippings, and or old manure to the soil. To learn more about your soil, you can have a soil test done at your local extension office! That will tell you exactly what you need to make your soil fertile. Extension Office Locations
 
Step 5: Work the soil
 
After improving the soil, it is time to work the soil! Working the soil will help with planting and making it easier for the roots to penetrate the soil. It also makes it easier for the plants to access water and the nutrients to grow. The two methods of working soil are tilling or digging. Tilling consist of cultivating soil with the use of a mechanical device called a rototiller. With that being said rototiller can do more damage than good. It can disturb the microorganisms and earthworms. Excessing tilling of the soil can lead to it being too wet, dry, or can damage the soil structure and plant roots. The second option, digging is a more practical practice for prepping small beds. When you begin digging, test the soil by picking it up  to make sure its moist enough to form a ball yet dry enough to fall apart when you drop it. Once  this step is completed, begin turning and mixing the soil 8 to 12-inches  in the organic matter from step 4. 
 
Step 6: Picking your plants 
 
Here comes the fun part! The next step is to pick your plants. Be sure to select plants that are going to adapt to your climate and are going to fit the amount of sun your garden will receive.  Here is a guide on what too choose and how to choose: Florida Vegetable Guide
 
Step 7: Planting 
 
Remember certain plants like to be grown in different seasons. For example, tomatoes like warm temperatures but kale and pansies like cold temperatures. Some plants grow better from a seed, like lettuce and sunflowers. Always read up about what you are planting, that way you will have better chances at being successful. 
 
Step 8: Watering 
 
Watering is important and the amount of water you give your plants is highly important. Seedlings should never be dry but as the plants grow you should slowly back off on watering. When watering, be sure to take in and think about the humidity and how much rain has fallen within that week. 
 
Step 9: Protecting
 
When protecting your garden from weeds, use mulch! The mulch will help keep the moisture in and will keep weed seeds from germinating.  There is a wide variety of mulches available to help protect your garden. 
 
Step 10: Taking care 
 
You have made it to the final step! Now your garden should be growing, it is important to keep up with weed pulling, fertilizing soil and watering the plants. 
 
After putting all that effort into planning, preparing and planting your garden, you will soon be enjoying the fruits & veggies of your labor.  Happy Growing! 
 
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