How to Plant a Backyard Garden

Whether you've got a green thumb or a knack for killing succulents, you're just a few simple steps away from growing your own veggies
August 3, 2016Words by Mikey DeTemplePhotos by Mikey DeTemple

My friend Lee Meirowitz is one of those people who can do anything. Of all your buddies, you would pick Lee to be stranded on an island with – you know you're going to survive with him around. He's an incredible surfer, lifeguard, spear fisherman, and all-around cultivator of awesome.

Lee doesn't have an Instagram, but he does have a green thumb

He also has a serious passion for cooking and his creations in the kitchen have taken on a whole new life from the seriousness of his backyard garden. Here are Lee’s tips for getting your own veggie patch up and running – with the help of a few handy tools.

"I am in no means an expert gardener," says Lee. "At very best, I consider myself an amateur. However, I do really enjoy it, and have been doing it for a long time now, so here goes nothing – a list of a few tips that I think will be helpful when setting up a garden at home. I am sure there are people who would disagree with some of my techniques but these are things I have learned from my experiences that have helped me out the most."

Do a little research online and find out what planting zone you live in.

Start with good soil.

"It sounds obvious, but soil composition is extremely important to a thriving garden. Every year, the soil should be turned or tilled. Additionally, it is important to add organic compost, fertilizer, and more topsoil every year. A sprinkler system working off a timer will also make your life a lot easier."

Know your ideal planting time.

"Do a little research online and find out what planting zone you live in. Plants have different dates for ideal planting depending on what zone you live in. Proper timing will give your garden its best window to thrive."

Consider the space to benefit ratio.

"If your space is limited then you should be aware of what the plants will look like when they’re mature. For example, a melon or squash will run along the ground as they grow and take up a great deal of space. It may not be worth it to you to lose half of the space in your garden for only a few of them. You may be better off planting many varieties of herbs in that space that you can use frequently throughout the growing season."

Plan out your layout before you plant.

"I try to consider the sizes of plants when laying out my garden. Ideally you do not want to have to climb over bigger plants such as tomatoes to get to your radishes. By keeping the smaller plants up in front of the garden it will be much easier to navigate. Also consider where the sun will be throughout the day so that the bigger plants are not blocking light for the smaller plants."

Your garden should only be reserved for your most favorite foods that will bring you joy when you harvest them.

Plant things you love.

"I know it sounds simple, but it is true. The real estate in your garden is special. Your garden will have countless hours of labor put into it. It should only be reserved for your most favorite foods that will bring you joy when you harvest them."

Draw a map of where everything was planted.

"When all the sprouts start to pop through the soil they all look the same. Different plants need to be thinned out to different spacing so it is important to know what you have where. It also nice to have for the next year so that you can look back and see if there is anything you would change or adjust."

Rows help maintain order.

"There are many reasons to use rows in a garden, one of the main reasons why I like them is for organization. Having the plants placed on mounds makes weeding and walking easier. You know that the valleys are safe to place you feet because all the plants are up on the mounds. It also helps with weeding, because you know that anything not on a mound can be pulled."

Stagger your planting of vegetables.

"Rather than plant all your seeds at the same time, aim to space it out. You do not want to end up with thirty beets and five pounds of kale and then have nothing for the next month. By spacing out plantings by a couple weeks, you will have plants at different stages which will ensure a steadily available harvest well into the fall." [H]

Mikey DeTemple is a professional surfer and filmmaker from Long Island, NY. He splits his time between Brooklyn and Montauk.
Check out his Ambassador Shop here.


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