Today I’m going to share with you some of my favorite tips for prepping for a garden! And make sure you make it all the way to the end for a fun spring cleaning round up AND giveaway!
We started our garden for the first time in 2011 and we haven’t looked back since. I’m definitely not a gardening expert by any means, but I know what does and doesn’t work for us and hopefully that will help you if you were thinking of starting a garden!
Raised Beds – We decided to go with a raised bed garden and it has definitely worked out for the best for us! Brandon built ours out of 2x4s he bought at the store, but you can also find pre-made box kits online and at Home Depot and Lowe’s. Our first bed was a 4×8 bed and we have since added an additional 4×4 bed next to it and then another 4×4 bed in another location in our yard. And actually we’ve now expanded that second 4×4 to much larger to enclose our hop buckets. Yes we also grow hops!
Square Foot Garden Method – Do some research to see what will work best for you. We decided to use the “square foot garden” method because it seemed the easiest for a small space and still have a lot of variety of veggies. There are lots of books you can buy to learn how to don’t, but honestly we just searched for everything on the internet! A great starting place is this site and this site.
Mix Your Soil – Along with the square foot method is the soil mix. It’s called a Mel’s Mix (named after the creator of square foot garden method). This is why we also liked the raised bed approach, after you build your bed you fill it with this mix instead of using the soil already in your yard. The official Mel’s Mix is as follows – 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 compost. The initial fill can get a little expensive depending on how big your beds are, but we only have to add a few bags of each the next year to refill our beds.
Make Your Grid – After you make your raised bed and fill it with dirt you have to make your grid! This is where the square foot part comes in, each box is 1 foot by 1 foot. We chose to make our grid using string and screws. Some people use wood and I can’t remember why we initially chose not to, but the string has worked out great for us! We do have to replace it every year, but I just pop the screws out, tie on new string, and reinsert the screws. I also have a printed out grid on paper that I use to write down what I plant where, because when all the green starts popping up in the beginning it all looks the same and then I can’t remember what anything is!
Tip: Use desk screws because they are treated and won’t rust from year to year!
Get Some Seeds – This is the most fun part, picking out what to plant! This one takes some time, as we’ve planted many things in the past that we either ended up not enjoying or didn’t grow very well. We usually head to our local Rural King to buy seed packets. The great thing about seeds is they are fairly cheap and we are able to use them multiple years because we don’t usually use all of them. We also love getting onions at Rural King. They sell them in little bags by weight and we usually get the red and white type as well as some green. I know lots of people start their seeds inside, but the one year I tried it I did not have much luck, so we just plant straight into the raised beds!
Here is a list of my favorite things to start from seeds:
Radishes – all time FAVORITE of everything we plant
Peas – sugar snap peas and regular peas – don’t forget to put a trellis up for them to climb
Basil and Cilantro
Cauliflower and Broccoli
Spinach and Lettuce – lots of different varieties
Chives – Sort of crazy, but the chives I planted the first year of our garden and they come back every single year so I’ve never had to plant them again!
Now depending on the size of the plant that’s how many seeds you put in one square. For example, 16 radishes or carrots go in one square, 6 peas go in one square, and only one broccoli goes in a square. You also can look at companion planting charts to see what plants will grow well next to each other.
Tip: Soak your pea seeds before planting them. I read this somewhere and now I do it every year and we get AMAZING peas.
Tip: Stagger when you plant things. For example, we love radishes and usually plant multiple squares of them, but we don’t want them all at once so we will plant one square then wait a week and plant another square.
Buy Some Plants – Okay hear me out, we buy some of our veggies already started. We’ve found that our local nursery has great prices on starter plants and they’ve done all the prep work and then we know these plants are going to grow to their full potential. We usually get 4 tomato plants to go in the separate 4×4 box (we usually get a variety of grape, roma, and large tomatoes). We grew our tomatoes in the 4×8 box the first year of our garden and then decided since they get so big and bushy we wanted them to have their own box. We usually plant onions in that box as well. We also buy our zucchini and pepper plants already started. Peppers go in the 4×8 box and zucchinis go in the newer 4×4 box on the other side of the yard. One year we also bought brussels sprouts, which was a ton of fun, but they have to grow all summer and then you harvest them at the end of the year. It seemed like a lot of work for not as much yield all summer. So we haven’t planted them again.
Tip: BTR actually hand pollinates our zucchini plants. They get these beautiful blooms on them and you can tell which are the female and which are the male stems. He pulls the male flowers off and then rubs them on the female flowers. We’ve had awesome success doing this and usually end up with a million monster-sized zucchinis and then we share them with family and neighbors!
Tip: When planting already grown tomatoes (and peppers and other plants) we dig the hole pretty deep and then we trim off almost all of the stalks already growing out from the main plant. This makes the main stalk stronger once it starts to grow tall.
Water and Fertilize and Weed – Don’t forget to water your garden! We try to do it early in the morning every day, before the sun gets to hot because that could fry the plant leaves. Otherwise we will water in the early evening when the sun is starting to set. We also like to use a fertilizer called Tomato-Tone and Garden-Tone. We try to sprinkle it in the holes when planting seeds and plants and then again a few weeks later once the green starts popping up! As for weeding, I used to be super diligent and pull every single weed I would come across. And then I had a kid and life got crazy! So i don’t stress about it too much anymore and I just do my best to pull weeds.
Have Fun – This is the most important part of gardening for us! When we started doing this 5 years ago we really had no idea what we were doing, but we had so much fun with it and it’s turned into a major summer hobby for us. It’s something I can’t wait to do more with Jude (and baby boy #2), and I’m hoping this summer he gets more excited about helping and playing out there while we water and pull weeds. Gardening has also become a huge stress reliever for me. I know that sounds a bit crazy, but being outside and working in the garden really does calm me down!
Follow Along – If you are interested in following along on our garden adventures, BTR and I have a hashtag on Instagram that we both use when we post garden photos, it’s #rotzgarden (I know, super original). And if you ever have any gardening questions shoot me a message or comment on IG, I’d love to help you out!
And now make sure to check out all of my favorite blogger’s posts about spring cleaning! We all picked different topics to share our best cleaning and organization tips!
Sara @ Running from the Law – Spring Cleaning with Toddlers
Sarah @ Seeing All Sides – Garage Organization
Meghan @ The Adventure Starts Here – Tips for Keeping an Organized and Semi-Clean House
Jess @ Scott Family of Maine – Spring Cleaning Printables
Liz @ Ellie & Addie – Spring Garden Prep
Chrissy @ Simple Joys – Diaper Changing & Dresser Organization
Leah @ Leah With Love – Spring Cleaning Schedule
Stephanie @ Wife Mommy Me – De-clutter Your Home Printable Checklist
Whitney @ Work It Mommy – Re-purposed Storage Solutions
Emily @ Dear Owen – Organizing Kids Closets
Jess @ Being Mrs. Beer – Essential Oils for Spring
Vanessa @ Sunflower State of Mind – Spring Cleaning Hacks
Laureen @ Chateau Deveau – Playroom & Toy Storage
Jessica @ Secrets of a Stay At Home Mom – Organizing a Kids Craft Area
Ashley @ Being Brickner – 10 Cleaning Tips for Working Moms
Karli @ September Farm – Spring Cleaning Checklist Printable
Laura @ Happily Ever Parker – 20 Things to Purge
And to make today even more fun, make sure to enter our Spring Cleaning Giveaway! We are giving away Mrs. Meyer’s Variety Gift Buckets to FOUR different winners!