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The first agricultural revolution started around 12,000 years ago. This was the dominant way of producing food up until the last century. Starting in the early 1900s, the first self-service grocery stores began popping up in the US, becoming more widespread by the 50s. Since then, Americans have relied on getting their food from stores.

However, growing your food doesn’t have to be so mysterious and challenging. By making preparations, gathering some supplies, and following this easy guide to starting a backyard garden, you’ll be ready to grow in no time.

Decide What To Grow

The first thing you need to consider is what plants are growable in your region. The USDA created a Plant Hardiness Zone Map that you can search by zip code.

After you figure out your climate zone (a number 1-13 followed by an ‘a’ or a ‘b’), find plants that are perfect for your region. Different types of the year have distinct growable plants as well.

From here, pick some of your favorites! If you like onions, bell peppers, and basil, get some seeds for those plants. Similarly, if you aren’t a fan of radishes or kale (and have no intention of changing your mind), it’s okay to pass on them.

Gather Supplies

The next step is to gather all the supplies you will need. Most produce from the grocery store is grown from a hybrid plant. This means that if you try saving seeds from these fruits or vegetables, the plant won’t supply any edible parts. So, it’s time to make a trip to the store to gather some essential items, such as:

  • Seed packets (or seedlings for a head start)
  • Topsoil, compost, and mulch
  • Garden shovel
  • Hose or watering can

Set Up Your Garden

After you’ve figured out what you’re growing and gathered all the supplied you need, it’s time to start setting up your garden! Be careful to avoid common gardening mistakes. Choose a place in the yard that’s near a wall (to get protection from wind) but will still receive at least several hours of sunshine.

Next, make your garden bed by removing existing vegetation such as weeds or grass. Find a space no more than 3 feet wide and 10 feet long. This will ensure you can reach in without stepping on the soil. Spread fresh soil in this area, at least 4 inches thick. If you have wildlife or pets nearby, consider fencing this area off.

Next, add your seeds or seedlings. Follow the seed packet instructions to determine proper depth and spacing. If you’re using seedlings, dig a small hole that’s deep enough to fit the root mass and transplant the young plant into its new home. Cover the top of the root mass with the surrounding soil to create a seamless surface.

Plants need about an inch of water per week during their growing season, spread out evenly over seven days. A handy way to tell if your plants are getting enough water is to stick your finger an inch into the soil. If it feels dry, it’s time to water.

Maintaining a garden can be a lot to learn. You can always troubleshoot problems that arise with a quick internet search. By following this easy guide to starting a backyard garden, you’ll be on your way to harvesting in no time!

Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.