Start small. The biggest mistake most beginning gardeners make is starting too big. They get overwhelmed and the weeds win. How big then?
I would suggest starting with 3 beds 30 inches wide and 25 feet long. This is a little over 180 square feet of garden space, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can fill them.
Grow what you will eat. The next step is to get a sheet of paper and write down what you want to eat. Maybe you want watermelons, tomatoes, strawberries, lettuce, spinach, carrots, or potatoes.
Make a list and get a seed catalog from Johnny’s Selected Seeds at johnnyseeds.com (You may not choose to buy from them, but their catalog and website is a wealth of FREE information). It will help you in the next step.
Write a plan. After you have selected your plants, you need to know how far to space them and when they will need to go in the ground. After you determine your timing and spacings, draw your garden on a sheet of paper.
Then make a list of dates that things need to be planted. This will be the hardest part of gardening, but the upfront work will be worth it.
Use simple tools. Have you ever seen a garden tool shed and wondered what each item does? I have. Here is a list of the simple tools I recommend that any gardener will need and get their money’s worth out of.
Stirrup Hoe (cutting more established weeds from their roots), Collinear Hoe (scratching the soil surface to prevent weeds from growing), Landscaping Rake (leveling the bed and removing plant residues/rocks), Wheel Barrow (carrying tools, harvested plants, etc.), Planting Trowel (planting transplants), 5 Gallon Bucket (picking up rocks, applying amendments, harvesting, etc.), and Garden Fork (breaking up the soil like a broad fork).
Transplant everything you can. This one tip was the biggest game changer for me! I can remember planting my seeds in the ground and then when they and the weeds germinated together, I couldn’t tell what was what.
However, if you transplant, the plants get a head start on the weeds, you can easily identify which is a weed and which is your plant, and the weeds do not get established. That’s where the next tip changed the way I viewed weeds.
Cultivate versus weeding. Cultivating happens with tools while standing. Weeding happens with hands while kneeling. The former is always preferred and only takes minutes on the hour instead of hours on the day.
Use your stirrup and collinear hoes to just disturb the top quarter inch of soil. This happens even when you don’t see weeds. If you are faithful, the weeds you do see will be small and they won’t take over your garden.
Stop, Look, and Listen. Gardening is a place I found that keeps the hands busy and the mind free. Often while digging potatoes on my knees I have found myself talking with God. Or when it is hot and I’m hoeing, I’ll stop, wipe the sweat from my brow, and just look around at the beautiful country scenery while listening to the birds mingled with the rippling creek.
Then I smile and thank God, pick up my hoe, and get back at it. Oh, and you can always just walk through the garden, stop, look, and listen to the plants which whisper in beautiful tones of hope and anticipation—the harvest is coming!
I would love to hear your thoughts on gardening success or how gardening has helped you to grow closer to God. Please share in the comments below so we can all benefit!
Bonus Tips: Test the soil with Kinsey Ag, amend the soil with Peat Moss for organic matter, and use this nitrogen source in small amounts.
P.S. Throw some pretty flowers in your garden too!
I'm a full-time ministry minded farmer and anytime writer.
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