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10 Steps to Starting Your Edible Garden

 1. Look at your yard, this is vital. Look at it in the morning, midday, and afternoon. If you want, just sit in your yard for a day and if anyone asks, say you're working on your garden because it's the truth. You need to know where the sun hits in your yard. While you watching take note of where the sun hits at each point in the day. Placing your garden in the right place will set you up for success right away.

2. Once you've observed your yard, use the information you collected to find a spot that gets around 6 hours of direct sunlight. If you have to choose between shaded in the morning or shaded in the late afternoon choose the afternoon shade as this can be helpful in the peak of summer.

3. Make a plan. Before you put a shovel in the ground you need to make a plan for your garden. This will help you stay focused and motivated because you will have a clear goal. Your plan should include a garden layout; how every you want to organize your garden. Here at Edible Gardens, we use redwood cedar raised beds so all our plans involve laying out where to place the beds. Remember while you're planning to start small, you can always expand your garden later but a large garden can easily become overwhelming. 

4. Mark the ground! You can use stakes and string, or even just sticks and string, but mark where you garden will be. If you are using boarders and pathways then mark the perimeter. If you are only putting in beds, and leaving the space between the beds grass, then you can mark each bed.

5. Now break ground! It's best to remove the sod from the ground where you want your garden to go. Removing the sod is the fastest way to set up your garden and the method we use. Once the sod is gone, you can put down landscaping fabric to keep the sod and weeds from returning if you are going to use raised beds. If you are going to plant in-ground then you don't need to add the fabric but some people still like to add cloth, plastic, or mulch for weed suppression.

6. With your fabric down, you can finally place your beds and fill them with soil. This is also a good time to go out and invest in some good quality tools. I recommend that you do not skimp on the tools because a good quality shovel or plow will last you for years to come and you'll get your money's worth.

7. If you have any pathways that need gravel, pine needles, or mulch then do that after adding your beds. I personally love gravel. I think it gives a garden a very finished look, but pine needles are also wonderful for suppressing weeds and creating a soft path. I avoid standard wood mulch because it can bring pests and disease into your garden.

8. Add the final touches to the design. Before adding plants, put your trellises in, if you have any, or other garden decorations. My garden has trellises, a water gauge (not just decorative but very useful), and a wind chime.

9. You are doing great! You are almost there and now it's the best part: plants! With everything else in place, it's time to plant. So get your planting plan back out and go get seeds and seedlings. If you are taking my advice and doing this in the fall, then find a good cover crop for your area. I personally love legumes because they can fix nitrogen, a very valuable nutrient in your beds, and they are easy to grow. 

10. You're basically done. You have a garden and it is all ready and waiting for spring to come around. Now all that's left is to plan for your spring season of plants. I highly recommend that everyone has a planting plan for each growing season: cool, warm, hot, and cold if you experience cold. Take some time to enjoy the garden you created and dream up what you could plant in the future. If you did decide to plant this fall then make sure you are keeping up with your garden and not letting any weeds or pests make a home in your beds. Remember when starting a garden, start small, and build as your confidence grows!


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