Spring is in the air! That means it’s time to get your Prepper Garden up and growing full of delicious vegetables. Gardening can be intimidating at first, but it is an essential way to stay prepared with fresh and sustainable food for your family through the summer season. And with the growth in your food storage, that means less trips to the grocery store– an added bonus. So, grab your gardening gloves, a brimmed hat, and let’s dig deep on how to prepare, plant and maintain a successful garden!
You Will Need:
· An area that receives a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight each day
· Wood Planks (if building a raised garden bed– size to your discretion)
· Potting Mix
· Gardening Fork
· Gardening Spade
· Gardening Gloves
· Bulbs or Seeds of Plant
· Watering Hose or Sprinkler (make sure your hose has access to the garden)
· Mulch (optional)
· Fence (optional)
1. Begin by scoping out the best spot to build your garden. The first aspect to take into consideration is sunlight. Your garden must receive a minimum of six hours of full sunlight each day. Keep in mind trees, bushes and shadows from a house or barn. Avoid low, wet areas where the soil could stay damp or moist. Lastly, make sure your garden has easy access to a watering hose.
2. The next factor to consider is the size of your garden. What produce do you want to grow and how much? How would you like the plots organized? A 4-foot wide measure is a manageable width to start with– you can then make your garden as long as you prefer or create multiple beds. Include walkways on the edge of the plot or stones you can step on, so you don’t disturb your pieces of work.
3. Not required for a garden but preferred, is putting your garden in a raised bed. Raised garden beds lift the veggies into a bed build that makes it easier to maintain and gives your plants a larger place to flourish. And BONUS– fewer weeds will appear due to less space. You can purchase a raised bed kit or build your own. If building your own, you will need to buy planks of wood, starting at around 6 inches in width, and height is to your discretion depending on how big you would like the plot. Again, raised beds are not required when creating a garden but highly recommended.
4. Before you begin planting or establishing the bed, break up and loosen the soil with a gardening fork, working 6 to 8 inches in depth. This will give the produce plenty of room to grow to their full potential. Be sure to remove grass, rocks and/or roots, and weed out any clumps.
5. The soil blend you put in your garden bed is the most vital element. Fill in the bed with a mix of topsoil (60%), compost or fertilizer (30%) and potting soil or any other organic material (10%). You can even include manure to give your crops a nutrient-rich environment. Mix up the dirt and spread around evenly to avoid creating layers.
1. Now that the prep is complete, it’s time for the planting. Select your veggies– what kinds do you like to eat? If it’s your first garden you can start out with some easier plants to grow such as cucumbers, tomatoes, or peppers. Be sure to check the planting dates, preferred climate and ideal conditions for each crop.
2. When contemplating placement of the plants in the bed, put the smaller plants in front and taller plants in the back, that way they will share the sunlight proportionately.
3. When planting a seedling, dig a hole about 8 inches deep using the gardening fork. Drop in one-two tablespoons of compost or fertilizer– this will set up the depth of the hole for the roots. Blend together. Place the plant into the hole ensuring the root meets the bottom. Fill in the hole with the excess dirt around. Pat the dirt around the plant to hold in firmly.
When planting a seed, refer to the seed packet on what the depth of the hole you should dig. The guideline is usually to plant at a depth equal to two times the diameter. Press the seed firmly against the soil making sure the dirt frames the seed. Gently cover with excess soil. One of the biggest mistakes new gardeners make is planting seeds too deep– making it difficult for the seed to grow properly.
If the seeds are extremely small (such as lettuce seeds), loosen up the soil and sprinkle the small seeds over the area– this is often referred to as broadcasting. These will result in small little plants growing in the area, where you can eat them as is.
4. When planting the next crop, ensure a one foot spacing between each plant, for the potential to grow. Do some research and learn about the plants you are placing in your garden. Know the season and climate they are going to thrive in. This will avoid your veggies growing on top of one another and competing for food and sunlight.
5. Once your plants have made it to the garden bed, time for the first round of watering. Gently spray the garden with water using a spray bottle or water hose to keep the soil moist. When watering, position the spray of the water to hit the plants like rain. If you garden is in a raised bed, be sure to frequently water, as the bed is more likely to dry out quicker.
1. Now the planting is complete and it’s time to maintain your garden’s condition and give it all the maintenance and attention it will need to prosper. Focus on water, sunlight and giving it some of that agricultural love.
2. Keep up with the weeds. Don’t let your veggies compete with weeds for water or sunlight. If weeds do make their appearance, grab the stem low and pull up sharply, making sure to take the entire root with you.
3. Mulching is one of the best things you can do for your garden. It helps to halt the growth of weeds, cools the plant roots and can even conserve water.
4. Identify what your seedlings will look like, so you don’t mistakenly pull them as weeds. Thin seedlings as you see necessary. Snip the plants at the soil line with small scissors.
5. With the constant watering and exposure to sunny days, your veggies will soon be ready to harvest. Gather your produce when they are youthful and tender. And only pick them when you have plans to eat them.
6. Protect your crops by keeping an eye out for pests. By cleaning up debris from the plants, it doesn’t give nasty pests, such as snails, caterpillars, cutworms, spider mites, or slugs anywhere to hide. You can also spray natural sprays such as mineral oil or salt spray to help manage the unwanted insects that try to make a home in your garden. Note: there is a such thing as a good insect for your garden, these include, ladybugs, honeybees, mantis, and dragonflies.
7. To further protect your garden, you can also set up a sturdy fence around your property or the plot to keep out animals such as deer, rabbits, squirrels, and other critters.
8. To measure your garden’s activities and growth through the seasons, consider tracking your progress with a garden notebook. Fill it with notes and pictures of your plants to praise your development!
So, there you have it–all the steps to get your Prepper Garden up and growing! In no time, you will be biting into tasty cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, peas and all your other favorite vegetables. There is nothing like having fresh veggies just a backyard away. Happy Gardening!