Gardening 101: How to Start Your Own Garden at Home!

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Written by Ladye Anne Wofford, former Chief Mission Officer at Austin Parks Foundation

With so many of us spending more time at home, this is a great opportunity to get your very own garden started! If you’re a new gardener, you’re in luck! Austin has ample resources to get you started off on the right foot.

Fall in Central Texas is planting season for wildflowers, perennials, trees, shrubs and more! Here are a few tips to help you set the foundation for a successful garden:

1. Choose a Location

The very first step is to find the best location for your garden. Look on the south side of your home for a sunny spot with level ground and, ideally, close to a water source. Be open-minded… a front yard garden can be beautiful and may yield the best results!

Start small, for example, a 4 foot by 6 foot bed. You’ll be surprised to learn how much you can grow in a small space. If need be, you can add another bed next season.

2. Build your bed

If you start with a well-prepared bed, you’ll find that you have less work down the road. If you’re fortunate enough to have good soil in your own backyard (instead of rocks or clay), then you can garden directly into the ground. Here is a video on the double digging method, which is a fantastic way to prepare your beds. 

Community Garden at Patterson Park

Raised beds are also very popular in Central Texas, because of the heavy clay content in the south, and rocky soils in the west.

But even our lucky friends in the east can benefit from the well-draining, rich soil a raised bed can provide. If you have lumber available to build a raised bed, fill your beds with quality soil. 

If your soil at home is lacking, I highly recommended GeoGrowers Thunder Garden Soil. Geo Growers is currently offering delivery service to those who do not wish to leave home, as well as no-contact pickup by appointment. 

3. Get good seeds

I’d recommend seeds from Renee’s Garden and Seeds of Change. Don’t be afraid to experiment with heirloom varieties! The Natural Gardener is a fantastic local resource for what to plant right now. They have a calendar of what to plant when for each month in Austin. Check here for what to plant in September!

4. Enrich your soil

Composting your yard trimmings and food scraps is a great way to both cut down on household waste and enrich your garden soil. The City of Austin provides a helpful backyard composting guide which includes a 15 minute online class that can have you composting at home in no time!

No yard? No problem!

Try your luck at container gardening! If you have a sunny spot on a balcony or patio, you can grow food like herbs, broccoli, carrots, chard, lettuce, spinach and many other veggies that grow nicely in containers. You can even successfully grow cherry tomatoes in hanging baskets.

Pan Am Neighborhood Park Community Garden

Try sprouting seeds by filling an egg carton with soil and planting seeds. Then transfer your plants to deep rectangular containers to allow room for roots to grow, and be sure to provide holes for drainage. You’ll need to water regularly, especially when it heats up!

You can also check out the many community gardens in parks and green space all over town. Be sure to check in with your local garden about membership, and how their plots work. 

Once your garden is planted, water with care and enjoy the excitement of watching your seeds sprouting. There’s still more to learn, but you’ll have a solid foundation to get your garden growing. And the best part… you’ll be eating fresh, organic, inexpensive vegetables from your own backyard in no time!