What Kind of Garden
If you don’t yet have a garden, it can be a little overwhelming choosing the type and even where to put it. Gardens can range from containers on a balcony to several acres of space on a plot of land. If you already have a spot, there are still some choices to be made of what kind of garden to do. What!? Yes, there is more than one way to garden. Some much easier than others.
Choosing A Spot
You want to make sure a good portion of the garden is in full sun. Some of it can have partial shade during a few hours of the day, but generally, garden plants love as much sun as they can get.
When my husband and I first got married, we lived in a studio that was in the back of someone’s workshop. We lived on 5 acres so I asked our landlord if we could do a garden. They showed us their old garden spot which hadn’t been used in 15+ years and told us to have at it. We tilled it (which I don’t do anymore) and got it all prepared. It looked amazing. What I didn’t notice, because it was February, was the giant walnut tree that had branches growing over our garden spot.
By May, that walnut tree had filled out and completely shaded our garden spot. It was such a bummer. Nothing grew well simply because we had overlooked the major issue of a shade tree nearby.
Another key is drainage and water. If you live somewhere like Tennessee, where I grew up, you want to make sure that your garden spot won’t flood during heavy rains. If you live in California, where it doesn’t rain for long periods of time, you’ll want to make sure your garden is near a water source, such as a hose, so that it’s easy to regularly water.
Choosing the Type
Do I do containers? A raised bed? A traditional garden on ground level? All of these options can be great options. A lot of choosing a garden has to do with personal preference and circumstances.
Containers are great if you live in an apartment or rental home. They are easy to take with you and take up little space. You’d be amazed at how many plants you can grow vertically to make the most of your container space. A small 3’x5′ balcony in full sun can become quite the productive garden space.
Raised beds are beautiful. Just get on Pinterest sometime and look at ideas. They look amazing, and they are easy to use. You don’t have to bend over much and can be fairly low maintenance once installed. The downsides are they can be pricey upfront, and they also don’t hold moisture as well.
Traditional garden beds done at ground level are free and can work great. It’s what I have now and will probably always have. Although, they can take some time and muscle to get prepped, once they are ready, they can be low maintenance. I love that you can also increase their size over time. At our previous home, I started out with a 8×12 area, but each year added on about 200-300 square feet. By the end, my garden was 1,200 square feet with no additional cost.
Prepping Your Garden
If you have containers, it’s pretty self explanatory. Buy some containers and organic potting soil, and you are ready to go! I do recommend putting a layer of wood chips 2-4 inches deep on top of the potting soil to help hold in moisture.
If you do raised beds, you’ll have to do some research on your own. There are too many details to go into today. Make sure to not do pressure treated wood, but the possibilities are endless on how you design it, how tall they are, etc. Again, I recommend topping with wood chips to hold in moisture.
If you are doing a traditional garden on the ground, you’ve got a bit of work ahead of you, but it’s worth it. I highly recommend watching this documentary: Back to Eden. It is 100% worth your time. Paul completely changed how I garden, and it has made gardening so much more simple, way less time consuming, and much more enjoyable.
The basics are a no-till method with lots of covering. If you are putting in a new garden, you’ll want to prepare 3-6 months in advance. This is all in the video, but you’ll lay down several layers of newspaper (on the grass) and put 6-12 inches of wood chips on top. Let it sit. The newspaper kills the weeds. The wood chips don’t allow any new weeds to grow while at the same time working to de-compact the soil and breaking down into beautiful fertilizer.
Wood chips have, by far, been the #1 change I’ve made that has revolutionized how I garden. They have made my life so much easier. I rarely weed. By rarely, I mean that I pull out 10-15 weeds in an entire season. I water much less, because the wood chips hold the moisture in. I fertilize less, because the wood chips break down enriching the soil over time.
Wood chips are not mulch that you buy. Wood chips are shredded up pieces of entire trees or shrubs. You can get them for free by calling local tree companies. Lots of them fill up their trucks every day and are more than happy to dump a load at your house if you are nearby.
Again, all of this is explained in the Back to Eden film which I cannot recommend enough. Sit down tonight, grab some non-GMO popcorn, and enjoy. You will learn so much, and you’ll thank me (and Paul) later!
Is it worth the work? Yes. Will it be hard? Yes. Will it be rewarding? Definitely.
Gardening is full of smiles, happiness, frustration, and work. But there are some simple ways to minimize frustration and work… my favorite being wood chips. But seriously, I love gardening. My kids love gardening. Guests who come over to eat dinner at our house, love our food. It’s healthy. It was picked 30 minutes before, and it tastes amazing. There is something to be said for being outside and connecting with the seasons. Not only will you will feel refreshed, but your body (and taste buds) will thank you too!
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