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Setting Up A Garden

In these times of staying at home, growing your own food is seeing a surge in popularity. For the inexperienced gardener, selecting a proper site is the most important first step.

Take these tips to start gardening on your own and develop the green thumb you’ve always dreamed of. And, don’t forget – WVU Extension is here to help every step of the way.

Start by selecting a site that gets six to eight hours of sunlight a day and has good drainage. Consider keeping your garden small the first year so it’s easy to maintain while you grow your gardening skills.

When planning for the layout of your garden, orient your rows from north to south to receive the maximum sunlight. That’s not always possible though. With an east-west-facing garden, plan for your taller crops, like corn, to be on the northern side so they don’t shade your lower crops.

For any new site, you’ll need to work up the soil. A self-propelled tiller makes the job easy. Before tilling, contact your local WVU Extension office for instructions on how to test your soil for nutrients. This is the time to add any fertilizer or compost and till it into the ground. Building a rich, dark garden soil takes lots of care and several seasons. While your soil might not be perfect, if it crumbles easily and retains moisture, it’s healthy enough to get started.

Prep your space at least a couple weeks before planting to allow time for any added nutrients to be made available to plants and let the soil settle.

Before planting, map out your garden space and use row markers to remember where your seeds were sown.

Keep in mind that a garden doesn’t have to be fancy or use expensive tools – it only needs to be practical. Fill the garden with foods your family loves to eat and enjoy the harvest all summer long.

Emily Morrow, WVU Extension Agent – Jefferson County