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Beginner Friendly Tips from the Experts: Starting an Outdoor Garden

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”

Audrey Hepburn

Gardening is an amazing pastime that anyone can partake in. Yes, even you!

If you’re not entirely sure where to begin, have no fear. This two-part blog series will provide tips to assist you in starting your very own home garden. If you’re interested in starting an indoor garden, check out the first blog in this series, Beginner Friendly Tips from the Experts: Starting an Indoor Garden. In this blog, experts Tashae Haughton, DeAndra Deveaux, Chinyere Culmer, Deon Gibson and Jahmai Fisher will give us the confidence to start an outdoor garden.

Supplies & Products Needed

Some items you will need to start your outdoor garden are:

  • Rake
  • Gardening hoe
  • Trowel
  • Seedling trays
  • Gardening gloves
  • Pruning shears

Deon Gibson, a local farmer and Agricultural Manager for the One Eleuthera Foundation, provides the following guidelines for beginners: “You must determine how you want to grow, and by this I mean whether or not you are going to grow in raised beds, directly in the ground or in pots or containers.  I encourage you to get compost and manure no matter where you are growing; but if using pots or containers, get potting soil; if growing in the ground or raised beds, get native top soil and mix with compost and manure at a ratio of 10:5:3.  You’d also need a trowel, seedling trays and a seed starting medium or “pro-mix”.”

garden
Deon Gibson pictured with fresh tomatoes that he grew in his farm.

Seeds

According to Deon, the easiest plants to grow are beans, and one of the most difficult are thyme and rosemary, but that doesn’t guarantee you success or failure with one or the other.  Deon cautions, Read seed packets if starting from seeds and follow the guidelines, or you can purchase seedlings from nurseries and farmers.”

  Read seed packets if starting from seeds and follow the guidelines, or you can purchase seedlings from nurseries and farmers.

Deon Gibson

Seed Starting Mix or Potting Soil

Seed starting mix is a blend of various seeds used in helping the seed to become a seedling without the use of soil (Underground Garden).

HGTV suggests seed starting mix over potting soil for the beginning stages of seed growth as, in the beginning, the plant receives nutrients from the seed itself and, due to there being no soil, the plant will not be exposed to fungi.

Deon explains, “A seed starting mix is designed to aid in the germination process and feed the plant to the point of transplanting; whereas potting soil is a growing medium designed usually to last a few months and has properties similar to ground soil. Potting soil is slightly enhanced for the unnatural environment of a pot, such as moisture retention and perlite and organic matter for aeration along with long term feeding of the plant, though after a few months vegetable crops will need more feed.

I don’t think its a matter of recommending one or the other, but rather knowing when to use each and how to apply them when applicable.

I don’t think its a matter of recommending [seed starting mix] or [potting soil], but rather knowing when to use each and how to apply them when applicable.

Deon Gibson

Watering Plants

Research suggests that it is best to water plants in the morning. Morning watering is preferable to evening water as, in the morning, the sun is not at its optimum as yet so the water will not evaporate.

Agricultural expert DeAndra Deveaux suggests watering your plans every single day.

“The same way that we need water and food every day to survive, is the same way plants need water and nutrients to survive. Do not over water your plants if you missed a day of watering. Plants will show you signs of needing attention like wilting and yellowing of the leaves. So be sure that your plant is looking healthy every day and you are doing your part in making it happen.”

Water every single day! The same way that we need water and food every day to survive, is the same way plants need water and nutrients to survive.

DeAndra Deveaux

Home gardener Chinyere Culmer, pictured in her garden below, uses PVC pipes and has her own custom watering system.

When asked about her garden set up, she explained, “We had used most of the garden space in the yard, so we expanded our space by using PVC pipes along our fence. My husband, who is a professional plumber, also installed a watering system in the pipe for watering. We use [the PVC pipe] planter for our kale, arugula, lettuce and leafy salad plants.”

Dealing with Unwanted Visitors

Gardens get their fair share of unwanted visitors, from small ones such as bugs to larger ones like cats and dogs. To deal with pests, blog Farmer Salamanac suggests making a homemade bug spray with a spray bottle of warm water and a little liquid dish soap. They also suggest planting onion and garlic around crops that tend to have the most pests. To deal with cats and dogs, place a barrier around the garden with wire, fencing, sticks or plastic forks.

Understanding Gardening Zones

Gardening zones give you an idea of when it is best to sow/plant things and when to expect a harvest.

Jahmai Fisher

Plants grown in sunny climates may not be able to grow in colder climates. In order to determine what grows best in your area, knowing your gardening zone is helpful. There is a gardening zone map that divides areas in North America into 11 different zones (National Gardening Association). The zones are divided based on the temperature of each area.

Avid gardener Jahmai states, “While gardening zones are traditionally an American based system, this can give you an idea of when it is best to sow or plant things and when to expect a harvest. There are even sow/harvest charts you can find online for specific crop recommendations. While there isn’t an official gardening zone classification for The Bahamas, I would recommend using Gardening Zone 10 as it is South Florida’s. This is a great way to use climate to your advantage and be informed about which crops thrive during different times of the year.”

While there isn’t an official gardening zone classification for The Bahamas, I would recommend using Gardening Zone 10 as it is South Florida’s. This is a great way to use climate to your advantage and be informed about which crops thrive during different times of the year.

Jahmai Fisher

Canadian gardener Tashae Haughton recommends that you do research to ensure that you know what grows in your climate. She said, “If you live in Northern America, like myself, you can’t grow a pineapple like someone who lives in sunny conditions all year round. It’s very critical to do research on items that you can grow seasonally. For example for my climate condition, I prefer to plant warm season crops (June-September), which includes, peppers, cucumbers, sweet potato, okra, tomatoes and beans. It would be a waste of time to plant a vegetable that won’t thrive, especially being a first time gardener.”

It’s very critical to do research on items that you can grow seasonally.

Tashae Haughton

Combating Weather Changes

In The Bahamas, shifts in weather aren’t that drastic. However, for gardeners in other climates, more planning and preparation is required. Tashae shares, “Being from Toronto, Canada the weather has a mind of its own. In April 2020 we experienced snow and even the first week of May. I always check the weather before transplanting my plants outside. Since they are in containers, if I notice that it will rain for 4 days straight I will leave them inside. This is why I like gardening towards the end of May or early June when I know the temperature will be at least 20 degrees Celsius or above.”

“Grow what you eat most. Grow a good amount… enough for you and your household, and please share with others! Grow… just start and grow!”

– Deon Gibson

We hope this blog series inspired you to get gardening. For more tips on gardening, follow:

If you found this blog helpful, leave us a comment below!

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