The Most Important Steps in Gardening!

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We get a lot of questions about our garden. They usually come right after the comment, “I’d love to have a garden, but have NO IDEA where to start!” I always respond, “Start with Step 1. It’s the most important step, and everything else after that depends on your answer to Step 1!”

STEP 1: Ask yourself, “What are my goals for a garden?”

There is no wrong answer to this question, but if you don’t ask it at the beginning, you’ll waste a lot of time doing things that don’t serve your goals. (And let’s face it, who has time to waste?)

Answers I’ve heard include: I just want to have some fresh tomatoes, I want to have someplace to putter and unwind after work, I want to can healthy produce, I want to teach my kids where food comes from…you get the picture. Once you’ve decided what your main goals are, then you can begin to craft a plan.

Step 2: Make an honest assessment of how much space you have to work with.

(Hint: this doesn’t have to be just “your” space! If you are too limited in space or sun to pursue your goals, get creative—find a neighbor who might let you use part of their property to garden on for a cut of the bounty. Look for a community garden you might become a part of. Look up—vertical space can be a game-changer for growing produce!)

Step 3: Once you have identified your goals, and figured out what you have to work with regarding the space to pursue them, start researching.

Join Facebook gardening groups. Google what you can grow in your zone (and when). Sketch out a plan and start simple and small. Learn from mistakes. Take baby steps! Find someone in your area that can mentor you and help you learn the ropes. Knowledge is GOLD in gardening, because once you’ve committed to the growing season, you’re pretty much stuck with your decisions—learn from other’s experiences as well as your own.

Gardening is one of those things that nobody ever masters. Every season is a little different. Every variety is a little different. Every micro-climate is a little different. Gardening is more art than science—the only way to really learn is to get in there and start doing it. Stub your toe. Make mistakes. Learn and improve. Keep looking for new things to try and new ways to make it happen. You got this!

Step 4: Make it fun!

I heard an old proverb once that goes:

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is today.

So don’t wait! Jump in with both feet and go for it!

Follow me on Instagram @WilloughbyAcres and take part in our gardening journey throughout the seasons.