Start Seeding a Garden
Carol Brasswell - Ferriday, LA

Hardwarian Carol Brasswell

Budget Build Home Center

Ferriday, LA

Start Seeding a Garden

Level: Beginner

It's time to plant the seeds that will get your garden started. Whether you're planting vegetables to eat or flowers to beautify your yard, this guide will get you growing.

No matter which type of garden you want (veggie, flowers or a combination), planting seeds from scratch is easy and rewarding.

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  • Seed a Vegetable Garden

    It pays to do some prep work before you start seeding. You need to know where and what you're going to grow so you'll have the garden's space and soil needs covered. If you didn't plan during winter (see the project "Plan Your Spring Garden"), take some time to make a rough sketch and map your gardening space before starting.

    Research what will grow well in your climate and be sure the last frost of the year has occurred before you plant. A good resource is the National Gardening Association website which features a USDA hardiness zone map you can use to determine what kind of plants will work best for your specific region. You also can use U.S. National Climatic Data Center to find out the estimated last frost of the year in your region.

    There are dozens of veggie varieties to choose from, but beginners will do best by choosing the ones that are hardiest and easiest to grow. As a general rule, the following eight types of vegetables are considered the best for beginning gardeners to grow in most parts of the country:

    • Carrots
    • Green bush beans
    • Lettuce
    • Peas
    • Radishes
    • Spinach
    • Tomatoes
    • Zucchini
     
    • Step 1: Find a Location
       

      Find an ideal spot in your yard with enough room for a garden. An ideal plot is at least 30 square feet. Measure the space with a tape measure to be sure there's room. If you're pressed for space, you can grow plants in a plot as small as 20 square feet. For smaller plots, you will have to choose compact varieties of vegetables, such as squash, tomatoes and cucumbers.

      Helpful Tip

      Avoid putting your garden near driveways or other areas where factors out of your control can lead to damage and an affected crop.

      Make sure the location of the garden will provide optimal opportunity for the garden to thrive as well as be appreciated. Take the amount of sun and shade in your yard into consideration. Some plants require full days of sun in order to thrive. Others require more shade. Avoid planting near trees or shrubs, as their roots will compete with your garden plants' roots for water and sustenance. Also, be aware of the drainage in the area. Soil that is too wet can kill your seedlings.

    • Step 2: Use Good Soil
       
      planting mix

      The key to growing healthy plants is having rich, fertile soil to nurture them. Avoid clays or sandy soils. Loose, well-drained soil is best.

      Knowing what kind of soil you have will help you figure out how much organic fertilizer and soil amendments you'll need. Pick up a handful of your soil and squeeze it. If it crumbles when you open your hand, you have loamy soil, which is ideal. If it doesn't crumble, you have clay soil. Sandy soil will fall apart immediately. These latter two types require more amendments to make them a more habitable place for your seeds.

      Get a soil pH testing kit. Your soil's acidity plays a big part in the success of your flowers. For the most part, plants grow best in soil with neutral pH. Soil amendments can be added to adjust your soil's pH.

      In addition, buy bags of high-quality potting or garden soil to enhance the dirt in your yard. Buy enough to generously cover the entire area of the garden.

      Helpful Tips

      Don't skimp on the amount or quality of soil you buy. Great soil will make your thumb seem a lot greener.

      Apply compost to the garden area before you add additional soil. Compost prevents plant diseases, reduces or eliminates the need for fertilizer, and revitalizes soil to encourage growth of your vegetables.

    • Step 3: Plant Some Seeds
       
      laying seed

      Before you start, check your seed packets for any specific directions for planting. Use a garden tiller or trowel to loosen up the topsoil and remove any weeds or unwanted vegetation from the area. Go over the area again crosswise to cut the soil up further. At this point, add your potting or garden soil and compost.

      Helpful Tip

      Buy gardening gloves and kneepads to keep your hands clean and make it easier on your knees if you're going to be working on the ground.

      If you're going to plant in rows, make them with a garden hoe to create furrows in the dirt. You only have to dig down a couple inches. Follow the directions on the seed packet. A general rule is small seeds should be buried about a ½" beneath the soil while some larger seeds have to be placed deeper in the dirt – but not too deep – only a couple of inches.

      Drop your seeds at intervals recommended on the seed packet and cover the seeds with soil, using a garden rake, then lightly tamp the soil down with the back of the rake.

      Use a garden hose to apply a light mist of water onto the soil.

      If you're going to be planting in hills instead of rows, form mounds with a hoe that are about 4" high and 12" to 18" wide, spaced out in intervals recommended on the seed packet. Using a stick or finger, make small holes in the center of each mound. Add your seeds, cover the hole with soil and lightly tamp it down.

      Water the mounds lightly with a fine mist from a garden hose.

    Seed a Flower Garden

     
    • Step 1: Plan It Out
       

      As with planting vegetables, you need to prepare a bit by mapping out what you want your flower garden to look like, what its size will be, and how it will work with the rest of your landscaping. Find out what grows best in your climate. Decide whether you want to use perennials, annuals or both.

      Helpful Tip

      You can plan for next year's flower garden by planting seeds indoors during the winter months. Many flower bulbs, like daffodils, lilies and gladiolas, can get a head start by being planted indoors (Start Seeds Indoor for Spring) then transplanted when it's warm enough outside.

      Make a rough sketch of the shape and size of the flower garden. You don't need to be precise here; you just need something to help visualize what the bed will look like and what flowers it will contain. Write down the names of flowers you like. Having an idea of the kind of flowers you want will help when planting. When you finally plant, you want tall flowers and plants not to tower over shorter plants, depriving them of sun. You want to plant so that the transition of tall plants to short plants is a gradual step-down or so that the shorter plants get enough light.

    • Step 2: Choose a Location
       

      Pick a good spot for your flower garden. Since you've done a little research and decided what you want to grow, you'll know whether the flowers in your garden need abundant or minimal sunshine. Some flowers require more while others require less. Also, choose a location that isn't too damp or too dry. The soil needs to be able to give the flowers the nutrients they need to thrive.

      Knowing what kind of soil you have will help you figure out how much organic fertilizer and soil amendments you'll need. Pick up a handful of your soil and squeeze it. If it crumbles when you open your hand, you have loamy soil, which is ideal. If it doesn't crumble, you have clay soil. Sandy soil will fall apart immediately. These latter two types require more amendments to make them a more habitable place for your seeds.

      Get a soil pH testing kit. Your soil's acidity plays a big part in the success of your flowers. For the most part, plants grow best in soil with neutral pH. Soil amendments can be added to adjust your soil's pH.

      As with a vegetable garden, you don't want to plant near large trees or shrubs, as their roots will compete with the flowers.

    • Step 3: Plant Seeds
       
      gardening glove

      Break up the ground with a garden tiller and add compost and potting soil to the area. Plant the seeds as instructed by the seed manufacturer. A good rule of thumb is to spread the seeds lightly on the ground then rake them into the soil. You can also use a garden trowel to move dirt around when you're seeding. Lightly tamp down the loose soil so it makes contact with the seeds to insulate them and better provide nutrients.

      Helpful Tips

      Buy gardening gloves and kneepads to make it easier on your knees if you're going to be working on the ground.

      Mulch your flowerbed and weed it regularly to keep undesirable growth from competing with your flowers for water and nutrients.

      Add a protective and decorative touch by setting off the flowerbed with a border of rocks, stones or bricks.

      You don't to worry as much about watering your flower garden. The flower seeds should be able to get what they need from rain, dew and other natural sources of moisture.

      Nice job! In a few weeks your new plants should be thriving. Don't forget to take time to enjoy and watch them grow.

  • Here’s what you’ll need to complete this project successfully.

    Before you begin, use the shopping list below to uncheck the tools you already have to complete this project.

    Then, print or save your updated list and bring it to your local True Value hardware store, where an expert Hardwarian will give you the remaining tools and expert advice you need to complete this project.

    You can also shop online for these project items at TrueValue.com and receive FREE shipping to a participating store.

    Vegetable Garden

    Flower Garden

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