Vegetable Gardens: Quick Guide on How to Plant One for the First Time

Translated by Nick R

In this blog you will find the information you need to set up your garden.

I will guide you step by step through the benefits of having a homemade vegetable garden, what you should take into account to start your crop, and what elements you can use. I will also recommend two types of plants with their guide so that you can start without excuses.

Benefits of having a home garden – Why should you have one?

  1. Above all, I need to point up that since you’ll be consuming 100% natural and chemical-free products, cultivating plants will help you with more than your physical health.

Also, it favors mental health through horticultural therapy. It consists of relieving tensions and providing positive psychological effects in affections such as:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  1. You can be part of the change by contributing to the preservation of the planet with your own crop. With recyclable objects at home, such as glass or plastic bottles, wooden boxes for vegetable storing, and even old pots, you have more than enough to start gardening.

Later I will explain how you can use these products so that they are effective and you don’t have any drawbacks to your crops.

  1. In this way, by using organic matter, you’ll be able to create compost. By doing so, you can reduce the waste generated at home and provide improved conditions for crop growth. In this blog, you’ll find useful information on compost. 
  1. Finally, you can choose to create a vegetable garden as you like, and in a way that enables you to:
  • Optimize space
  • Adjust an irrigation system with zero water waste.
  • Bring a different and modern style to your house or yard.
  • Share this exciting practice with everyone in your family.

What should you take into account to start your home garden? 

This is very important information before starting.

1. How to choose the perfect spot for your vegetable garden?

The first step is to choose the place to put your crop. It can be a courtyard, a terrace, a window or a balcony. What is important is that it must have good natural lighting and adequate space for plants and pots. As you can see in the photos.

Plants need sunlight, some more than others, as they get from it what is required for photosynthesis. If you don’t have a space with good lighting or you are dependent on the seasons of the year, don’t worry.

There are plants that require direct sunlight only a few hours a day, such as onions, lettuce, strawberries, parsley, among others.

In the case that you want to grow your plants in soil, like the one you see in the photo, you must take into account the soil conditions. The soil provides the plant with benefits so that it can develop properly, such as nutrients and water to feed it.

Soil texture

There are 3 types of soil texture according to the mineral fractions and particles that influence the water infiltration rate, drainage capacity, aeration, water retention, among others.

  • Sandy/gritty: coarse mineral particles. Light, easily tilled soils, aerated, but with low water and nutrients.
  • Loamy or Silty: middle-sized mineral particles. These soils depend on good or bad structural soil formation to favor the air/water ratio.
  • Clay: Small mineral particles. Very heavy soils with problems of waterlogging and aeration deficiency. However, they have good water and nutrient retaining capacity.

Having a clear idea of what soil you will use for your vegetable garden will help you to know the best guidelines for irrigation, plant care, fertilizer use and so on. The most recommended is loam soil, as it has a balanced percentage of sand, silt and clay.

Taken from Queensland Government Website

In this diagram from the United States Department of Agriculture (U.S.D.A.) you can check and guide yourself to establish the percentage of each soil texture. In this way, you will be able to acquire the desired soil for your crop.

Here is a guide to know the type of soil you have and compare it with the USDA. diagram.

Fertilizer

On the other hand, to get the soil or potting soil to be optimal, it is recommended to use fertilizer or compost. This mixture will provide your plant with all the necessary nutrients to have healthy growth.

  • Fertilizer: It is intended to artificially nourish the soil. Fertilizer provides chemical compounds to the soil for plant roots to absorb.

They are used to cover the nutritional needs of each plant. One aspect to keep in mind is that fertilizer can modify the soil pH and contaminate it.

  • Compost: Like fertilizer, the purpose of compost is to nourish the soil, with the difference that its origin is natural. It is eco-friendlier and makes the plant and the soil more fertile. It can be applied directly to the soil.

There are two types of compost. Organic fertilizer is composed of organic compost, humus, manure or algae extract. While mineral fertilizer is created for each type of plant, it is composed of Potassium, Nitrogen and Phosphorus. It’s available in granulated, liquid or soluble forms.       

Taking the above into account and as I said at the beginning, you can choose the fertilizer or fertilizer you want for your crop. My suggestion is to start with organic fertilizer, as you can create compost with your house wastes. It will help you to provide your plant with great benefits, and if you can mix it with mineral fertilizer; your plant will be grateful.

How to make compost?

  • You need a suitable container to add the raw material that will become the compost you will use. This container can be purchased or built from materials that can be put to a second use.
  • You must combine sugar, cellulose and nitrogen from organic wastes to prepare homemade compost. These wastes can be wet such as potato skins or peels, fruit and vegetable peelings, damp and fresh grass, or coffee, among others. Dry waste, such as branches, dry leaves, cardboard, peanut shells, paper and others.
  • It is recommended to have a balance between the waste to maintain the moisture level and thus allow the decomposition process to oxygenate properly. This will prevent rotting and loss of the mixture.
  • It is also important to cut the organic waste into small pieces to speed up the decomposition process. You should stir the mixture from below so that everything can be fully integrated.
  • The process can take 6 to 9 months and you will recognize that it is ready when the mixture gets darker, more uniform, and you’re unable to detect the waste that you’ve thrown away.  
  • A tip to speed up the composting process from 1 to 3 months is to add worms to the mixture. They break down a lot of the organic matter by eating almost twice their weight per day.
  • Once it’s ready, you can then add it to your plants and start over.

2. What to plant then?

The second step is to choose what you want to plant and the pots you want to use.

Some things to consider are the type of seeds or plants you are going to grow. Which you can buy from a plant nursery or you can use cuttings (stems). It is essential that you get well informed about their characteristics and care in order to avoid unwanted pests.

Some plants require a lot or little natural light, regular or occasional watering, special care of their roots, and others may or may not be transplanted, just to name a few aspects.

You shouldn’t be afraid of this, there are natural solutions to reduce and remove pest infestation, such as lemon juice, vinegar, cinnamon, salt, garlic infusions, and others. The first step is to monitor the crop frequently to detect the problem on time.

Types of sowing

Fun fact: Did you know that there are several types of planting? I’ll tell you about some that will help you to start your home garden if you count with enough space. 

  • Sowing in seedbeds: It is done when the seeds are too small or need special care to ensure their growth. By doing this you can have stricter control over your crop.
  • Broadcast sowing: If you have a large space in your garden, this technique can be very useful. It consists of taking some seeds and scattering them over the land to be cultivated and finally they are covered with a layer of soil or compost.
  • Row sowing: You must make a line groove with the proper depth and distance depending on the plant. Finally, place the seeds in the respective grooves and cover them.
  • Direct sowing: In this practice, you sow the seeds directly in the place or space you wish. Don’t forget the recommendations for successful sowing.

What about plant pots? 

Moreover, you can pick the pot you want to start your garden if you have a small area. You can either buy them in various stores or you can create one by yourself with reused material (like the one in the image). What is important is that they are suitable for your plant.

They must include enough openings for the water to soak the plant and drain the excess water afterward. It can be between 7 and 15 centimeters deep or a little more, this way your plants will have enough water, nutrients and air without occupying too much space.

  • Indoor pots: these can be wooden or plastic as they can adapt well to shade and spaces with little climatic effect.
  • Outdoor pots: They can be made of clay, stone or metal, due to their durability and resistance; or plastic, although they deteriorate a little faster.
  • Hanging pots: Materials such as metal or plastic are perfect for this type of pot, besides they are ideal for small spaces like apartments. 

3. Setting up your vegetable garden

The third step is to decide how to organize your garden.

There are 2 types of gardens in which you can arrange your pots or crops. Having a good organization will help you to keep proper control of your plants and will make it easier to look after them.

  • Horizontal cultivation: Either due to the type of pots or because the crop is grown in soil, this is the most common type. The pots are placed side by side.
  • Vertical cultivation: This type of crop is distributed in tiers. It allows to maximize the available space and can be placed on a wall. You may use plastic bottles, wooden pallets, cloth shoe racks, etc. 

4. Garden maintenance

The fourth step is to choose the tool kit for your garden.

Getting the right tools will help you with the planting process and make the job easier. I will mention some of the most important ones for your garden. In the image, you can see some to help guide you.

herramientas de jardinería
  • Garden shears
  • Hand shovel
  • Watering can
  • Gloves
  • Kneepads or cushion
  • Garden hose
  • Rake
  • Shovel

2 aromatic plants that you can grow in your home garden

Now that you know the first steps to creating your home garden, you can start with the growth of something as simple as oregano and thyme. You can’t miss these aromatic plants in your garden, and you will see why.

Thyme

Thyme

Thyme is an aromatic plant with which I recommend you start your garden for its benefits and properties which you’ll love. It is a perennial plant, that is to say, its life span is longer than 2 years.

It has culinary and medicinal properties, besides being very easy to plant and requiring little care.

You can enjoy its scent, and it helps to attract pollinating insects. These will help you keep your garden looking beautiful and with great production.

It is known for being resistant to pests and diseases. It also repels insects such as slugs and snails. It helps you control pests such as aphids, which are small insects that feed on the leaves and stems sap. 

Here are the steps and tips for planting your thyme plant.

Thyme sowing
Step 1 For your aromatic plant to grow faster, it is recommended to plant a piece of thyme stem (cuttings). You can do this at any time of the year, but experts advise planting them in spring or early summer.
Step 2 You must choose a soil without excess water, dry, free of acidity, arid and limestone to plant thyme.
Step 3 Thyme doesn’t need to be watered constantly, it can withstand long droughts. You can water it once per week or once every 10 days. It is very important to make sure that the plant is not overwatered. 
Step 4 This plant is particularly tolerant to dry weather and high temperatures, so you should choose a place where the plant receives a lot of sunlight.
Step 5 To keep your garden in a good condition it is necessary to have a tool kit. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on them, as long as you have a pair of shears to prune your thyme plant it is more than enough.

Oregano

Oregano

Oregano is also an aromatic plant that you can’t miss in your garden. In addition to being used as a seasoning with a pleasant flavor and aroma, it’s also beneficial to health.

It has antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, and it’s an ingredient that stimulates the digestive system and has anti-inflammatory effects, besides treating cold symptoms; among many other medicinal uses.

It does not have many pests or diseases and helps to repel unwanted pests. By growing oregano at home you can consume an organic and more natural plant. If you take care of it, it’ll last for years.

Here is a step-by-step guide to planting your oregano.

Oregano Sowing
Step 1 When sowing your oregano seeds, try not to sow them too deeply, otherwise, they may take a long time to germinate. You can also sow cuttings of this plant and get faster results. It is recommended that you sow the seeds in spring or at medium temperature.
Step 2 For your plant to develop better, add some homemade compost to the soil.
Step 3 Like thyme, oregano doesn’t need to be watered excessively. You can do it once a week. Remember not to drown the plant or overwater it, because fungi can grow and damage it.
Step 4 Find a spot in your garden where oregano gets direct sunlight. Avoid areas that are too dark or have little natural light.
Step 5 Using the right tools such as scissors, watering can, shovel and water vacuum cleaner, you will be able to keep all your plants in top condition.

Now that you know how to start your own beginner’s garden, don’t wait any longer and put yourself to work. Dare to grow more plants to enlarge your crop and create your dream garden.  You’ll have fun and learn a lot about natural cycles and dynamics.

The chance to live a much healthier life both physically and emotionally isn’t far behind. Most importantly, you will be doing your bit for the care and preservation of the environment.

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