People that are new to homesteading often get a bit of a shock when they buy a house with some land because they think that it will be all ready to go once they move in. If you’re lucky, the land may be ready for growing but a lot of the time, it isn’t. If your land isn’t ready for gardening quite yet, here’s some information for how to start a vegetable garden from scratch.
If you’ve never gardened before, you likely have no idea what is involved in growing your own food. That’s okay! You can learn with the right instruction.
How to Start a Vegetable Garden from Scratch
First, let me direct you to this post. It will give you an overview of the things you’ll need to do in entirety for your garden. Don’t fret — it doesn’t all have to be done today. Incidentally, this information can be used to prepare a bed for fall or for spring. The only thing that changes are the dates!
Let’s start with first things first: clearing the land, testing the soil, and tilling the soil. After that, you can move on to amending, adding your choice of irrigation, and soon, planting.
1. Clear The Land
First off, you need to clear the land so you have a blank slate to work with. If the land hasn’t been used for growing in a while, it will probably be covered with weeds that you need to pull up before you can do anything else.
Some areas of land may also be waterlogged, which is a bigger problem. In that case, you’ll need to pump all of that excess water away. Once the water is removed, you should take a look at the shape of the land because if it has a large dip in the middle where water can collect easily, it may not be suitable for growing until you level it out and increase the drainage.
Once the land is cleared, you can start to build a picture of exactly what you’re working with.
2. Test The Soil
The next step is to test the soil so you know what state it is in and what kind of plants it will support. Different plants thrive in different types of soil so if you already have an idea of what you want to grow, you may have to make some adjustments to the soil.
If the land has been gardened before, you may be able to get away with doing a few maintenance steps with this plot. However, if it has never been used, there is a chance that the soil won’t be very healthy so you will need to spend some time bringing your soil back to health before you have a chance of growing anything.
You can buy a home soil test kit online that will give you an indication of the nutrient content in your soil. Then you need to do some research into different plant types and see what is likely to grow. The easiest way to do this is to talk to people in the area, because it’s a good chance they might have the same type of soil that you do.
3. Tilling The Soil
Tilling your soil helps to break up compacted areas so it is ready for planting. Land that hasn’t been used for a long time is likely to need tilling before anything will grow there.
The best time to do this is usually in the spring because you need the soil to be dry. The best way to test whether the soil is ready for tilling is to pick up a handful and squeeze it into a ball. If the ball falls apart easily, the soil is dry enough.
However, if it stays clumped together, it is too wet and you should wait a while. Get yourself a tiller and move up and down the soil in rows, much like you would when mowing a lawn. Make sure that you don’t go back over a row once it has been done because you risk compacting the soil again.
Once you have completed these steps, your soil should be in a good state to start planting.
Learning how to start a vegetable garden from scratch isn’t difficult, but if you follow these three steps, you will be guaranteed better results.