Deciding what method of growing you will use is the first step in planning your new garden. I’ll share with you the most common methods along with some important pros and cons of each.
First things first, right? When you’re ready to grow your own garden whether it is vegetables, herbs, or even just flowers, you have to consider how you will plant them. Choosing what gardening method you like is an important first step in planning your new garden. It’s all a matter of what works best for you and your space. There’s a bit of preparation for each of the options. Jump in and learn more in Part 1 of my series “My First Garden: How to Choose the Best Garden Method for You.”
Method 1: In-Ground Gardening
Traditional gardening in the ground requires that you have a nice size area that will get plenty of direct sunlight. Additionally, you need to till the area and turn over the soil. You might also need to add “amendments” to the soil to make it more suitable for growing. Gardening in the ground can be a great option for first-time beginner gardeners since you don’t have to build anything and you can make your garden area any size that suits you.
For a beginner garden, some negatives of in-ground gardening might be that the garden bed will be more prone to weeds. Weeds can quickly take over if they aren’t pulled often! In-ground gardens can also be prone to wash out if not well placed on your property. Be choosy when finding that just-right spot and the best garden method for you.
Tips for In-ground gardening:
- When choosing a grassy area for the garden plot, you’ll want to kill the grass by placing cardboard or newspaper over the plot for several weeks before tilling. This will smother the grass and kill some of the roots.
- Once the ground is tilled, you can add in organic fertilizer or compost. Use the tiller again to mix in the organic material evenly.
- Maintain the garden plot by pulling weeds when you see them. Try not to go long periods of time without maintaining the area.
Method 2: Gardening in Pots
I have a wonderful neighbor named Ronnie who has, for the last few years, grown his garden in pots. He doesn’t need a huge bounty of veggies to get him by and he produces plenty in his pots. It’s also very manageable for him to work and maintain by himself.
An advantage of gardening in pots is that there are no weeds! Since you aren’t growing from the ground, there are no weeds to fight. If you’ve ever pulled grass and weeds from the garden all summer, you know how appealing container gardening can be. Also, it’s simple to add fertilizer or change the soil completely in a pot. If something isn’t growing or the soil gets contaminated, you can simply change it out. How nice is that?
Disadvantages of a garden in pots would include watering. You’ll need a good system for watering your pots and be diligent about it. Pots dry out much more quickly since they aren’t insulated by the ground. Growing veggies need plenty of water to do their best. Another limiting factor for potted gardens would be maintaining soil temperature. Here in Louisiana, we face scorching summer heat whereas, in other parts of the country, there are can be extreme lows. These shifts in temperature will heat or cool the soil in pots more easily. A little research will tell you if what you’re preparing to plant is suitable for growing in a container or not.
Tips for growing in containers:
- Garden containers don’t have to be beautiful in order to be functional. Most any style of a container will work as long as it has good drainage.
- When needed add drainage holes to the bottom of your containers before filling them using a drill.
- Check Facebook Marketplace, thrift stores, and your local neighborhood sites for inexpensive containers.
- To reduce the weight of large containers and the amount of soil needed to fill them, add styrofoam or other light filler to the bottom of the pot before filling with soil.
Method 3: Raised Bed Gardening
The third method that I’ll be sharing is the method that I chose for our family’s garden. Raised beds in my opinion are the simplest for the beginner gardener. Building a raised bed box is simple and takes little to no DIY experience. I made our 8 ft. x 4 ft. boxes in a day’s time. So you may be asking yourself why I think raised beds are the best.
First, there is no preparation of the ground required. Unlike planting in the ground, you don’t need to remove the grass from your raised bed area. You’ll want to place weed barrier underneath the boxes before you fill them with soil though. The weed barrier and the weight of the boxes filled with soil will adequately smother any grass or weeds below. I haven’t had any trouble with weeds or grass growing through since I put my raised beds in early this year.
The next reason that raised beds are a nice option when choosing the best garden method for you is because you can easily control the soil. Of course, when you put in the raised bed you will need to fill it with soil. Depending on the size of your beds, you can accomplish this with bags of soil or have garden soil delivered by the yard from a local nursery. In doing so, you can control the quality of the soil that you choose. Since the soil where I live is filled with clay and can be quite boggy, it’s not great for growing veggies. Their roots would likely rot in the wet soil that is local to me. Using raised beds has allowed me to bring in excellent quality soil and add amendments that I choose.
Ok, so there are many pros to raised beds in my opinion but what are some cons? To start, growing plants in raised beds can limit the size of your garden. Many times new gardeners (myself included) will overplant in that first year. The excitement of starting something new and trying to grow all the things can cause a lot of crowding in a garden bed that is a determinate size.
Next, similarly to growing in pots, the raised beds won’t be drawing moisture from the ground so you’ll need to water them more. Raised beds can dry out quickly especially in peak growing seasons so be sure to have a good watering schedule to stick to.
Tips for growing in Raised Beds
- Ensure that your raised beds will be deep enough for your plants to thrive. It’s recommended that you have 8-12 inches of soil depth so that plant roots can sink down deep.
- Be sure to stake the side of your raised bed boxes midway. Placing a support midway will prevent the boxes from bowing or warping over time.
- Make your raised beds no more than 3-4 feet wide so that you can access the beds easily without having to step into the soil. Treading on your garden soil will compact it and make it difficult for plants to grow.
Check out more articles like this on my blog. Here I show you how to make an Easy DIY Cedar Garden bed. This is very similar to the raised garden bed boxes which I will be sharing with you soon!
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