Everything you Need to Know About Gardening
Remember when you went to the countryside and were served fresh strawberries and salad? Eating freshly grown fruits and veggies is a whole new experience. The fruits melt in your mouth, and the delicious veggies make your taste buds go crazy.
You can grow your own stuff in your home garden. The whole process is fun, and a means to escape this busy world. But gardening is not as easy as it seems.
With that being said, here’s everything you need to know about gardening.
Raised Beds or In-Ground Gardens?
Simply put, raised beds are containers full of soil in which plants can grow. But isn’t it the same as an in-ground garden? Raised beds are elevated from ground level with enough soil to support a new plant without utilizing the in-ground soil. The frame can be constructed from wood, masonry, stone, bricks, or even galvanized metal.
Raised beds are made to hold enough soil that is enough to support the roots of a plant. Usually, they are 6 to 8 inches high, 3 to 6 feet wide and 6 to 8 feet long. You can further elevate a raised bed using bricks or blocks of concrete for accessibility.
Raised beds are suitable for properties suffering from poor rocky or sandy soils. It gives you more control over the quality and texture of your soil. You can fill it with the ideal soil that is healthy, nutrient-rich, and full of microbial life, perfect for growing fruits and veggies.
Here are a few pros and cons of using raised beds:
- Lesser weeds and no compaction: Raised beds require less maintenance, prevents weed intrusion, and avoids soil compaction. To achieve all this, you have to ensure that the bed is at an appropriate height (to avoid foot traffic) and the soil is fresh, organic, and weed-free.
- Control over soil quality: You cannot grow anything if the soil lacks nutrients or has poor drainage. Your native soil might be clay soil, silt, very rocky, or even contaminated due to the use of pesticides. You can add ideal nutrient-rich soil with a raised bed according to your plants and have a much better yield. You can also make quick amendments.
- Better drainage and extended growing season: If you live in an area where it rains a lot, a raised bed is your best bet to grow healthy plants. Water drains much better compared to an in-ground garden. Raised beds also warm up quickly in the spring and hence allow a longer growing season annually.
- More upfront cost: You need wood, screws, soil, compost, mulch, amendments, and gardening tools to create a raised bed. You also need spare cash for seeds, seedlings, and not to mention the annual repair costs for the wooden frame.
- Not ideal for large roots: Raised beds are deep but not a perfect alternative to an in-ground garden. Some fruit trees and artichokes have large root systems and cannot be planted in a raised bed.
- Requires more water: In a hot climate, raised beds require much more water than an in-ground garden.
You can also plant directly in the ground. Some properties have great native soil, but others might need compost and organic amendments to grow plants. In-ground gardens are cheaper and offer more gardening space compared to the latter.
Let dig into the pros and cons of in-ground gardens:
- Low upfront costs: There is no need to buy wood or screws in this case. The chances are that your soil is already suitable for gardening provided the soil is appropriately tilled, mulched and watered. Moreover, you don’t need to buy extra soil—just a slight amount of fertilizer and compost, and you’re good to go.
- More gardening space: With raised beds, you are only limited to a 4ft. X 6ft. container. In-ground gardens give you the flexibility and space to plant more crops and make use of every inch of the backyard. Also, there is more natural insulation for your soil, hence a better crop.
- Easy to irrigate: You don’t need a fancy watering system to irrigate your inground.
- Soil Compaction: In-ground gardens are walked on often by kids and pets. Or maybe your soil has too much clay.
- Pests and Diseases: Garden pests, soil-borne diseases, weeds, and grazing animals love in-ground gardens. Keeping your garden safe can be a real annoyance.
- Tough on back and knees: You have to bend a lot to maintain your garden. All this hunching, straining, and leaning can hurt your back and knees.
What are the Benefits of Having a Backyard Garden?
If you have eaten garden-fresh food, you are fully aware that the taste is quite different from a grocery store-bought item. Instead of eating fruits that were grown hundreds of miles from your place, why not just pluck one from your backyard?
Here are some other benefits of having a backyard garden:
Saves money: Herbs like mint, parsley, and rosemary are expensive, but the seeds just cost a fraction of it. You can cut down the monthly food bill by growing organic vegetables in your backyard at a much lower cost.
Improves health: According to Healthline, outdoor gardening can help you fight diseases, keeps the blood pumping, and protects your memory as you get older. Planting seeds, pulling weeds, and digging can burn up to 400 calories per hour.
Fun fact: Gardening makes you happy. Growing your own food out in the fresh air gives you a sense of accomplishment and boosts your mood.
More control on what you eat: Fresh veggies are vitamin-rich and free from harmful chemicals too. Farm-grown crops are exposed to god knows which chemical and synthetic fertilizers, but here you have the liberty to add anything to your soil. You are well aware that your fresh produce is free from pesticides and other harmful chemicals.
Eat healthier: Backyard gardens are a fresh supply of healthy food. It is recommended to eat 2 cups of vegetables and 1½ cups of fruits per day to reduce the risk of chronic disease. You automatically develop a habit of eating healthy fruit when you have put so much effort into growing a plant from scratch.
Opportunity to bond with family: Gardening does not have to be a solo activity. You can partner up with your friends and family to pull weeds, plant new seeds, and share the joy of eating fresh fruits.
What is the Best Location for your Garden?
The best location for gardening should have the following features:
- At least 6-8 hours of sunlight.
- A relatively flat spot as sloped gardens can be expensive and difficult to maintain.
- Make sure the area drains well and doesn’t stay wet.
- Should have a water source nearby.
- Good airflow.
- Free from toxins.
- Easily accessible.
Morning sunlight is superior to afternoon sun for most of the flowering and non-flowering plants. The morning sun is less intense and is perfect for plants that require part sun or part shade. Plants like tomatoes require full sun, so afternoon sunlight also works for them.
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Size of Garden
What Size of Garden Do You Need?
Several factors play a role in deciding what size of garden you need. If it’s too small, the yield might not be enough for the family, and if it’s too large, there will be too much work and maintenance required. Beginners typically start from a 10′ x 10′ garden (100 square feet) with 3-5 types of veggies and plants.
Deciding how big your vegetable garden should depend on the following factors:
- How much food would you consume from the garden?
- What’s the household size, and how old are they?
- How big is your backyard? Can it house an in-ground garden or a raised bed?
- Are you planning to store veggies for winter use?
- Is it just a hobby, or do you plan to replace grocery-bought fruits?
100-200 square feet
Couple (2 Persons)
200-400 square feet
Average Family (4 Persons)
600-800 square feet
Large Family (6+ Persons)
1,200+ square feet
Sources: Best Pick Reports
Cost of Garden
How Much Does a Backyard Garden Cost?
A backyard garden saves money and gives you fresh produce at home, but how much does a backyard garden itself cost? Here are a few factors that affect the cost of a garden:
Factors Affecting the Cost of a Garden
Cost of plants and seeds : You need plants and seeds to grow a backyard garden. The cost varies depending upon the type of crop. For example, atomic red carrot seeds cost $2.79 per packet, and on the other hand, black cherry tomato seeds can cost up to $18.95 per 5-grams.
Type of garden : Is it an in-ground garden or a raised bed? Raised beds can cost $80 to $200, depending upon the type and size. In-ground gardens, on the contrary, are much cheaper.
Cost to water plants: Plants take gallons of water to grow. The costs can vary greatly depending upon the climate of your place and the type of plants.
Cost to provide nutrient-rich soil: It can cost $50 to $150 for one cubic yard of nutrient-rich soil. The cost can go even higher if you plan on using fertilizers.
Cost of equipment : You need a handful of gardening tools to get started. A round-point shovel can cost $14 alone. The more equipment you have on your list, the more it’ll cost you.
Installing a sprinkler system: Sprinkler system is perfect for watering your garden, but it uses lots of water. An 18 rubber nozzle sprinkler system will cost you $41.
How Much Does It Cost To Maintain a Garden?
The maintenance cost of a garden varies depending upon the size, type of plants, and soil conditions. On average, it costs $50 to $300 to maintain your garden.
How Long Does it Take for a Garden to Grow?
It depends on many external conditions and the type of plants you are cultivating. Vegetables like radishes can grow to maturity in 30 days, but the same cannot be said for others. Potatoes, corn, and beans take several months to reach maturity.
Factors Affecting the Time-Lapse of a Garden to Grow
Light: Every plant requires a different type of sunlight. Some prefer part sun or part shade while others, like tomatoes, need full sun. Moreover, light also changes in every season, hence affecting plant growth.
Seeds: The type of seed is crucial as some of them take 1 to 2 weeks to germinate, and others like mini tomato and chilli pepper may take up to 3 weeks.
Time of year and location: During winter, the sunlight is less intense, and the days are shorter. While in summers, the sun is at its peak, which encourages flowering and fruiting. If your location is good with air, light, warmth, and water, the plant will grow faster.
Ground conditions: Does your ground have good soil with the required macronutrients and micronutrients? Do you use appropriate fertilizers? These factors significantly impact plant growth.
Temperature: Plant growth slows up in winter and catches pace in summers. Warmer temperatures encourage germination and growth by speeding up photosynthesis.
Water: Water forms over 90% of a plant’s body. The right amount of water in soil nourishes the plant and promotes growth. Too little or too much water can kill it.
What is a Garden Zone?
What is it?
The whole Canadian region is divided into several plant hardiness zones depending on the minimum temperatures, rainfall, frost-free days, and other variables. These zones determine which plant is suitable for growth in that area.
Why is it important?
Every plant needs an ideal environment for its growth. The Garden hardiness zone helps with the selection of plants. In simple words, it tells you whether a plant can survive throughout the year in your area or not—what can grow where.
What is my gardening zone?
Just visit Natural Resources Canada website, download the pdf, and see what your gardening zone is. You can find your location on the map and match it with the matching colour on the legend. Canadian zones range from 0 to 9, where zero is the coldest and 9 is the warmest average condition.
Does the gardening zone change with time?
Climates change over time and hence the zones too. The drawback is that gardening zones are not updated regularly, and micro-climates also affect plant growth.
Gardening gets you more connected with nature and it is a craft that gets appreciated the more you do it. But you do need some time and tips to have a green thumb and fully enjoy gardening. Don’t wait too much and get started now. Want to know more about gardening? Check out our article on How to start a Garden!