Believe it or not now is a good time to get started on gardening in that you can prep that gardening area and let is set over winter and be ready to go in the spring. If you have not gardened before I recommend that you start with Mel Bartholomew’s Square Foot Gardening. Once you get some experience you can modify the methods in Square Foot Gardening and the garden bed you build will still be useful to you.
Step 1 – Build and Fill A Raised Bed
I recommend building the bed out of regular 2×6 construction lumber and make the bed either 4′ square or 4’x8′. Two 8′ 2×6’s will give you the 4′ square bed and three of them will build a 4’x8′ bed. The book describes “Mel’s Mix” that you can use to fill the bed or you can do what I did and just get compost.
Step 2 – Decide What To Grow
Looking at a seed catalog can be overwhelming and I would almost recommend that you not do so for your first year or two. In reality as a beginner you will probably just want to go to a local green house that will have vegetable starts and seeds. Pick 5-10 that you like to eat and get them. Greens like lettuces will grow quickly and can be harvested and replanted. Broccoli is a good one also as you can cut the main head and smaller heads will grow back. Also there is nothing like a home-grown tomato. Some taller or climbing plants will need support or a trellis on the north side of the bed. You plant your tallest plants to the north and the shorter ones to the south.
Step 3 – Plant
You need to know what your last frost date is and different plants are planted outside based on that last frost date. Check the instructions on each plant.
Step 4 – Enjoy
Tim Stephens, a gardeing expert cautions all new gardeners is to start small so you do not get overwhelmed. You will be surprised how much you can get from one 4’x8′ bed. Also something large like corn or pumpkins are not really a raised bed type of plant, they take up too much space
Lastly I believe everyone should have a garden even if it is just a small one. It is something that will reconnect you to what is real and help you deal with the stress of modern-day life as well as provide you with the best quality food there is.
Square Foot Gardening Book