If you want to start a garden this year, it may not be too late. Look for a sunny spot near your house to start gardening as it will be easy to keep an eye on it. With the right soil and adequate watering, your garden is sure to be a great success.
If this is your first garden, start small. Two or three 3’x 12’ raised beds or a 12’ x 12’ plot is a reasonable size that you could begin to, plant in one weekend, and be successful. A small garden irrigation kit (Small Garden Bed Kit) can have you set up for watering in an hour without having to search for parts. Even a small garden can produce as much or more like a larger one. Extensive gardens often become very time-consuming and overwhelming for the first-time gardener. Keep it simple, and you will enjoy hours of gardening each year.
If you are starting with garden beds, plant the beds from north to south so that they get the most sun exposure (6-8 hours daily). How is your soil? If you have rich dark soil, great! If not, purchase some organic bagged soil, mix it in with the soil you have and get growing.
You could also start small with a container garden using large ceramic pots, half oak barrels, or Smart Pots (porous fabric containers) which promote a dense root system. Smart Pots regulate heat, support a healthy root system via aeration of the root zone, and are perfect for vegetables, flowers, herbs, and berries.
Adequate watering is the key to plant health. Too much water and the soil will lose its ability to hold oxygen which the roots need to thrive. Too little water and the plants will stop growing altogether. A drip system that is turned on and off by a battery or solar timer will precisely regulate the water. Your plants should get watered in the early morning when plants naturally take up water and nutrients. Here in dry arid California where it’ll be warm every day, 20 minutes per day is perfect.
Buying plants at a local nursery, a farmer’s market seller, or home improvement store with a good selection is a good idea. You could even think about planting varieties that do well in the fall too such as certain kinds of squash, zucchini, pumpkins, chard, kale, cabbage, and short-season veggies like carrots, radishes, and beets. In August you could plant lettuce giving them a good start, and the weather will be cooling off in September providing the perfect temperature for them to mature.
Lastly, be sure to prevent animal and insect damage. If there are deer and rabbits in your area, a good 6’-8’ tall field fencing, or chicken wire is a must. Insecticidal soapy water or just an organic soap solution to spray on your plants should keep insects at bay. And to prevent fungal diseases don’t use overhead sprinklers or sprayers, instead install a drip irrigation system to keep water off the leaves of plants. A drip system waters only the roots of the plants, not the entire surface of your soil. Use mulch over your soil, wood chips or shavings to keep the moisture in the soil. Bagged mulch is available where bagged soil is sold.
It’s not too late to start your garden now. The suggestions in this blog should give you a good road map to success. Check out Dripworks blogs for other gardening specific ideas on how to save water, time and money while being successful in your garden.