Outdoor Gardening Tips for Beginners

Outdoor Gardening Tips

Organic vegetable gardens are a great way to get a good supply of vegetables inexpensively. If you’re new to home horticulture, here are some tips for getting the most out of your new backyard vegetable garden. Visit our outdoor gardening archive for more information.

Outdoor Gardening Tips for Beginners

Start out with a small garden plot

Starting with too much too soon can leave you feeling overwhelmed. If you’re new to gardening, it’s better to start out with a small garden, then expand it later as you get more comfortable with it.

A typical size for a beginner vegetable or herb garden might be around sixteen feet by ten feet. This is plenty of space to grow enough for yourself and several family members, but small enough to be easily manageable.

Make sure you space out your plants properly

Plants that are too close together compete for soil, sunlight, and other things they need to survive, which can put pressure on them and prevent them from thriving.

Different plants may need to be spaced differently from one another. Carrots, radishes, and green onions only need a few inches between them, while lettuce, chard, cabbage, and similar plants need about a foot of space. You’ll also need to make sure you have enough space for yourself to move between the plants.

Place plants in a location with the right amount of sun

Some plants need full sun to thrive, while others are adapted to living in shaded areas.

Use quality seeds

Better seeds cost a little more, but they’re generally more likely to actual germinate than super cheap seeds. Mail order seed catalogues are among the best places to get them.

Water your garden enough, but not too much

Overwatering can cause a plant’s roots to rot and decay, potentially killing it. At the same time, too little water will also kill your plants. Whether or not you need to manually water your outdoor garden can depend on your local climate, recent rainfall, and the specific plants that you’re growing.

Plant and harvest your vegetables at the right times

The climate you live in affects the best time to plant any particular garden flower or vegetable. The USDA Hardiness Zone classification system is used for recommended times to plant. Usually, you’ll plant later in northern climates than in warmer southern areas.

Cultivate plants that do well in your region’s climate

While many plants are cosmopolitan, many others are highly adapted to their native climate. Some plants do fine in year-round warm weather, while others need an annual period of cold to grow normally. Plants from dry climates may be susceptible to overwatering and root rot in more humid regions. Soil types are also an issue, as they vary substantially throughout the world. Plants that are used to alkaline soil may not do well in acidic soil, and plants used to dry, well-drained, sandy soil may have trouble growing in wet, loamy soil.

Start with plants that are easy to grow

Some plants are easier to grow than others, requiring less maintenance. Some plants, like sunflowers, grow easily just about anywhere. Others, like cauliflower and cabbage, are highly susceptible to slugs and other pests. Corn is another plant that’s surprisingly challenging to grow in a backyard garden. Because it’s wind pollinated, you’ll struggle to get it to fruit unless you have at least fifteen or twenty corn plants.

Some of the easiest plants to grow include tomatoes, peppers, radishes, cucumbers, and peas..

Modify your local soil as needed

Different regions can have vastly different kinds of soil. Soil can be rich and loamy, made primarily of clay, or sandy and fast-draining.

Dense, heavy soils can be loosened by adding compost, peat moss, manure, or gypsum. Sand and perlite improve drainage in soils that retain water, and compost is great for enriching nutrient-poor soils. To determine what you need to do, you can look up your local soil type. You can also use a soil test kit to determine the pH, nitrogen levels, other parameters.

Use companion planting

Companion planting involves pairing plants that grow well together, which can help you maximize space as well as deter pests. Radishes can attract insects away from leaf vegetables like spinach, and some plants, notably tomatoes, onions, and garlic, act as insect repellents.

Invest in a good pair of durable gardening gloves

Wearing gloves helps protect you from accidental nicks and scratches, as well as from biting insects and spiders that might be lurking among your garden plants.

Organic Gardening Tips

Be sure to manually remove weeds regularly

If you let weeds go too long, they’ll flower and go to seed, creating even more weeds. Because most herbicides are synthetic, and many are potentially harmful to benign plants or to animals, pulling weeds out by hand is one of the most organic-friendly ways to keep them from crowding out your garden plants.

Use mulch

Mulch is used to help provide extra nutrients to your plants, to hold moisture in the soil, and to help keep the soil temperatures consistent. You can make mulch out of all kinds of things, including hay, grass clippings, composted coffee grounds, and tree bark. As it decomposes, it introduces vital nutrients into the soil.

Use biological pest control methods to deter insect pests

Predators and parasites — as long as they’re not invasive in your region — can be a great way to get rid of insects that can harm your garden plants. Ladybugs feed on aphids, and many other pests can be eliminated by applying bacteria or parasitic nematodes that cause them to get sick.

What plants are easy to grow for beginners?

Here are some of the easiest plants for beginners to grow in a backyard organic vegetable garden.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes grow well just about anywhere, including in container gardens. The easiest way to grow tomatoes is to buy small starter plants from a nursery, rather than planting them from seed. Small varieties like cherry tomatoes and grape tomatoes are easier to grow than larger cultivars like beefsteak and roma tomatoes.

Radishes

Radishes are one of the easiest vegetables to grow. They’re very low maintenance, and don’t need a lot of attention from you to flourish. Plus, they can mature in as little as twenty days, allowing you to get several crops of them in the course of one growing season.

Rosemary

Rosemary is a woody, hardy plant native to the Mediterranean.

Mint

Plants in the mint family grow and spread fast, to the point that you may have to pare them down to prevent them from taking over your garden patch.

String beans

String beans grow well as long as they’re in full sun and well-drained soil. Other types of beans, like lima beans, are also pretty simple to grow.

Sam at Organic Lesson

is the Founder of Organic Lesson. He started this site to share tips on using natural remedies at home when such options are available.