Before you start, you will need to select a spot for your garden - it can consist of anything from a few pots to home your herbs or a large wooden trough for a more robust garden. Herbs are a great option if you are limited in space because these can be planted in groups in small to medium-sized pots. 

 Sunlight plays a large part in the location of your garden. This is a common misstep in most first-time gardeners. Take time to watch how sunlight plays out within your space to find the most light-giving areas. Most edible plants, including many vegetables, herbs, and fruits, need at least 6 hours of sun in order to thrive. 

 TIP: Make sure your garden is near your kitchen or visible through a window. The closer and more visible your garden is, the more likely you are to maintain and take care of it. This will help avoid any out of sight, out of mind probability. 

"The garden is not isolated from nature, it is part of it. Other plants, weeds, animals, and even people are going to be in it. Each garden is extraordinarily personal - each garden is a collaboration between a person or people and a unique piece of land."

- Lauri Kranz quoted in 'Cultivating Place: Natural History & Our Gardens'.


The soil has the biggest impact on your garden - if you're planting straight into your yard, you should do a soil test for the makeup of soil nutrients. The soil mix should be pH 6.2-7.2 neutral. The easiest way to achieve good soil is to buy bagged soil. You can mix 2-3 types of soils to get a good mix of nitrogen/potassium / phosphorous and then replenish with fertilizer in season on the regular. 

 For a healthy organic vegetable garden, amend the soil with nutrients such as manure, peat moss, or compost (the best option because it contains decayed microorganisms of previous plant life). Those microorganisms supply plants with the nutrients they need. You can create your own compost pile by designating an area or bin where the organic matter will decompose. 

 TIP: Look for OMRI certified soil. The Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) is an international nonprofit organization that determines which input products are allowed for use in organic production and processing. OMRI Listed® products are allowed for use in certified organic operations under the USDA National Organic Program.

"I think there is an excitement about growing your own food that is infectious. In a busy city, taking time to be in the garden, to work in the soil, is very grounding and rewarding."

- Lauri Kranz quoted in Urban Exodus


It is important to choose plants that match your available growing conditions. This means putting sun-loving plants into a sunny spot, choosing heat-tolerant plants for warmer climates, and giving enough space for plants that will grow in width or height. 

 TIP: Refer to a hardiness zone map to decide which plants will best survive in your garden. USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is the standard by which gardeners and growers can determine which plants are most likely to thrive at a location.

Nature reminds us that we have to let go of the idea that we can control everything,

- Lauri Kranz quoted in 33 Voices 'Our Path Back To Nature'.


To best be successful right away, make sure you are planting your seeds during the right time of year for your region. For most crops, you should start seeds indoors about 6–8 weeks before your last spring frost date. You need to know the last average spring frost date for your area so you don't accidentally kill plants by putting them out prematurely. It's also good to know your first average fall frost date so that you get your plants harvested or moved indoors before late-season cold damages them. This gives the plants plenty of time to grow large and healthy enough to survive their eventual transplanting to the garden.

"Even if we all choose the same flowers and vegetables to plant out in our beds, none of them will look the same. They will all be an expression of the person whose garden it is."

- Lauri Kranz quoted in 'Cultivating Place: Natural History & Our Gardens'.


Apply a layer of mulch that's 2 to 3 inches deep around each plant. This will help reduce weeds by blocking out the sun and reduce moisture loss through evaporation, so you have to water less. 

Make sure to pull weeds before they go to seed. 

Make sure to protect your crops from little critters that eat fruit and vegetables as they ripen. Pick up fallen fruits to avoid the green metallic fig beetles and other fruit-loving insects. 


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