So you're all excited to try out gardening for the first time this spring. You're giddy with excitement to say the least, and it's all you can think about let alone talk about. You're not alone! Even seasoned gardeners get a little "pep in their step" this time of year as spring approaches. Before you grab your shovel and start digging or before you even think about opening up a packet of seeds... let's start here, with some basics.
Plants need a few basic ingredients for a healthy life. Soil, sun and water. Sure there are many, many subtopics that fall into even these three main ones but since this is your first year gardening it's important that you learn the three basic things that plants need to survive. Once you have a good foundation with these, you'll be able to dig a little deeper. No pun intended.
SOIL: If you’re not familiar with soil, it may all look sort of blackishgrey and crumbly. Soils are quite variable, however – soils a few hundred meters or yards apart can have different properties and support the growth of different crops. Any soil is a complex, constantly changing mix, made up of several components: minerals, organic matter, and living organisms. Learn more about soil by reading our "Introduction to Soil".
SUN: If you are gardening in a community garden, you may have no choice at all about where to garden – you get a plot, and that’s where your garden is. If you do have a choice, your garden should be out in the open, fully exposed to the sun. Most vegetables, flowers, herbs, and fruits do best if they are not in the shade - but there are still a lot of varieties you can plant that tolerate partial shade. Learn more about garden placement by reading "Where Should The Garden Be".
WATER: Drip hoses and soaker hoses are much more efficient ways to water your garden than are sprinklers. Drip hoses are hoses that have small holes cut at regular intervals on one side of the hose, while soaker hoses have small holes cut at irregular intervals all around the hose. Whichever kind you use (drip hoses are better but not available at some garden stores), arrange the hose to cover the parts of your garden you want watered, and the hose will slowly but steadily release water into the soil.
Drip and soaker hoses water more slowly than sprinklers, but they use much less water to do the same job. They are also superior because they don’t wet plant leaves or stems, which can encourage various diseases. Unlike sprinklers, they can be used even in the middle of the day. Learn more about different ways to water your garden by reading our "Introduction to Watering".