In this guide, we outline what might be some key considerations to be aware when starting to grow different types of plant life (such as vegetables, fruits, herbs, flowers & more) outside.
We’ve split this guide into two main sections:
– Key considerations such as soil, climate, plant specific considerations, growing practices, and specific/unique local factors
– And, what might be some basic steps to start growing
(*NOTE – this is a general guide only. Every situation is different, and will therefore require it’s own assessment, and consideration of unique local variables and factors)
Summary – Beginner’s Guide To Start Growing Different Types Of Plants Outside
Key Considerations Before Starting Growing
Before beginning to grow plants, some of the key considerations to be aware of are:
– The Climate (rainfall, temperature, wind patterns, etc)
– The Plant Life Being Grown (what type is is and it’s requirements), and The Way The Plant Life Is Grown (how the plant/s are grown by humans)
– Unique Local Environmental Or Conditions Based Factors (specific to a local area)
How To Start Growing Plants: Basic Steps
Some basic steps to start growing plants might be:
Decide on your garden location and size
Find out the type of soil you have (test it), and understand your local climate and seasons
Pick the types of plant life, and number of different types of plant life you want to grow
Understand all the factors that impact plant growth
Decide whether you want to work with your existing soil, or import soil (or both)
Prepare your soil
Create garden/plant beds, weed proof them, water and leave
Have a plant maintenance routine, and a soil improvement/maintenance plan
Observe how the plants are growing, and make any necessary adjustments to your gardening routine
Consider miscellaneous points, and variables unique to your garden
Key Considerations Before Starting Growing
1. Assessing The Existing Natural Soil
The natural soil available to grow in plays an important role in what can actually be grown.
Things to become aware of are:
– What type of soil it is, and what traits and characteristics it might have (clay vs sandy vs loam for example)
– What soils are generally representative of specific regions within a country. For the US for example, check out nrcs.usda.gov, and for Australia for example, check out soilscienceaustralia.org.au (although, note that soil types can differ even from on square metre of land to another, so, soil maps are never a guarantee of the soil of a singular plot of land, or even across that plot of land from spot to spot)
Beyond this generalized information about soil, it’s also worthwhile to:
– Test the soil (such as pH and squeeze tests)
– Get a secondary opinion on what the soil is from a knowledgeable source (online, at a gardening store, or from other local growing professionals and experts), and whether you might need to amend it, or use different soil
Photos/videos can be taken of the soil, and it can be shown to people with knowledge of the soil.
Whilst not necessarily a soil consideration per se, topography is worth mentioning:
– If you have reasonably flat land to grow on you shouldn’t have to worry about too much in terms of topography.
If you have sloped land, you will have to either plant things that can grow on sloped areas, or build in some stepped garden beds.
2. Finding Out The Climate Or Growing Zone/Region Of The Local Area
Climate impacts both the plant life, and also the soil.
Different soils react differently to different climates, and different types of plant life will have different climate and soil conditions they grow best in
The climate includes things such as:
Average temperature range, plus what the maximum and minimum temperatures get to
And, other weather based factors
But, you can do the same thing for soils by applying the same research methods.
3. Consider The Requirements Of The Plant Type Being Grown, & The Way The Plant Life Is Grown
4. Unique Local Environmental Or Conditions Based Factors
These are factors unique or specific to the local growing area.
How To Start Growing Plants: Basic Steps For Beginners
The following are general steps only.
Obviously each situation will require it’s own individual assessment and subsequent growing strategy.
1. Decide on garden location and size
Common options for locations are:
Grow in your natural soil in a spot/patch in the backyard (having it in a spot that gets sun for at least 6 hours a day helps)
Grow in raised garden beds (made of a rot resistant wood like red cedar, black locust or redwood, and made to be 12 + inches deep as most vegetable and plant roots tend to be 6 to 12 inches deep)
Grow in pot plants or containers indoors or outdoors
Grow in a greenhouse or controlled growing environment (like a polytunnel or biosphere type environment)
For the purposes of this guide, we will outline how to grow a regular outdoor garden patch.
In terms of size, the smaller the better when you first start as it’s far easier to manage, and the upkeep is far less.
A patch anywhere up to 5 or 10 feet squared is usually manageable for beginners, but you may also just choose a custom patch to fit one or a few types of vegetables, plants/flowers and so on.
2. Find out the type of soil you have (test it), and understand your local climate and seasons
You need to understand the soil you have, and soil tests can help with this.
Test in several different locations over your plot of land, because soil can differ from spot to spot even on one piece of land.
Also, do an online search and find your local climate (temperature, average rainfall) and when the growing seasons start and finish.
You may look at the plant hardiness zones for your area too, which can indicate which plants grow in what regions based on average minimum temperature.
3. Pick the types of plant life, and number of different types of plant life you want to grow
Anywhere from one to a few different types of plants is good to start with.
You can concentrate on getting your initial selections right before you move onto others.
4. Understand all the factors that impact plant growth
The main things that any plant life needs to grow are – Light (sunlight), the right temperature, enough water, the right humidity and the right type and amount of nutrients.
However, this is a basic list.
The full list of direct and indirect factors that impact plant growth is more comprehensive.
5. Decide whether you want to work with your existing soil, or import soil (or both)
Your existing soil might be fine to grow in – good soil is usually close to the neutral pH range, a loamy type of soil, drains well, is moist (holds water and nutrients well) and is easy to dig and work with without being too loose or too sticky or hard/compacted.
On the topic of using raised garden beds, and importing quality topsoil, instead of using your existing natural soi …
This is an option some people pursue – growing outside of their natural soil in raised garden beds, growing inside a greenhouse, growing inside their homes in planter containers or pots – or some type of similar options with imported soil.
It’s up to the individual gardener if they want to pursue these individual options and use imported soils – they have their own pros and cons.
6. Prepare your soil
Initially, you’ll want to till or work the soil (dig it up, break it up, aerate it, and spread it out). You really only need to do this once.
Once that is done, you’ll want to add to the soil or amend it as required:
Adding some organic matter – organic compost or manure – will help feed the soil initially with nutrients, and introduce beneficial microorganisms.
This is also the time to start amending the soil with pH amendments and fertilizers, based on the soil test results you did earlier.
It’s also a good time to add other soil mixes if you want to change the soil texture or type
7. Create garden/plant beds, weed proof them, water and leave
Some people don’t create garden beds, but they are good practice for a number of reasons.
The width and depth of the garden beds depends on what you are growing.
Some people choose spacings of 18 to 24 inches apart for each plant, about ¼ to ½ inch deep burying of each plant, and three feet between rows (but this is just one guide).
In between the garden beds, some people choose to weed proof by laying newspaper or cardboard, wetting this layer, and then laying straw or hay on top.
Once the soil is prepared, give it a final watering, and leave the soil and garden beds for a few days to a week
Because the soil has been disturbed, weed seeds may germinate, so come back and pull any weeds that have established themselves.
8. Start planting
Now you should have an area of prepared soil to work with.
You’ll either be planting/sowing seeds directly into the soil, or be transplanting seedlings into the soil.
What option you go with depends on your climate, the plant you are planting and other factors.
You can always read the plant specific information you obtained earlier, or, read the instructions or label on the seed packet, or seedling batches you buy.
Obtaining your own seeds and growing your own seedlings in egg carton containers are other options if you know what you’re doing.
Water the seeds or seedlings once planted.
Some people also choose to give the seeds/seedlings a starter fertilizer.
9. Have a plant maintenance routine, and a soil improvement/maintenance plan
With your plant life planted, you’ll want plant and soil maintenance plans/routines.
Plant maintenance usually involves trimming, watering, fertilizing (slow release fertilizer application in granule or spray form), and weeding.
Protection of the plants with fencing, netting, and some form of pest control (pesticides, or organic biological pest control/Integrated Pest Management – such as soap or garlic sprays) is also recommended.
The garden shop can tell you how often you need to do each, or you can read the individual product directions (e.g. the instructions on the fertilizer packaging).
Also, know the specific requirements of each type of plant you’ve planted, and also your soil.
You might get some tips for a long term soil improvement and maintenance plan from these guides:
10. Observe how the plants are growing, and make any necessary adjustments to your gardening routine
Once the plants start growing and you are in maintenance mode, you’ll want to observe what is going on week to week.
You may implement new practices to adjust to what is going on.
Joining gardening facebook groups, forums and online communities, or going to gardening or agricultural meetups in your area are great ways to get local expertise and information.
11. Other notes on starting a garden
Sunlight – you need 6 hours of sunlight a day for some vegetables. Plant in a sunny spot if you can
Some plants produce year round, whilst others produce once a year
Understand the seasons each plant needs to be planted and grown in
Plant near a water source – it makes watering easier. Or, you can set up drip irrigation lines
You may need to put up fencing or protection to protect your plants and vegetables from wildlife
Consider netting for freestanding bushes, like blueberry bushes
Consider support framing and lattice work for climbing or vine plants
Plant warm season crops after harvesting cold season crops and vice versa
Getting Additional Help For Growing & Gardening
You may either:
Go to a local gardening nursery or gardening professionals shop in your area once you are aware of the characteristics of your gardening plot of land, and ask them for their advice on what you might do and what has worked for them.
Or, go online and join social media groups or forums of gardeners and growers in the area
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