Hello world! This is my first instructable and first real garden experiment, I hope you enjoy my garden and find my experiences (and difficulties) helpful. My overall goal for you is to have created an instructable that anyone, with no garden knowledge, could pick up and grow some delicious foods from. Please let me know how yours turns out!

After searching instructables I came to realize that there were no complete how-to's on a simple, some what cheap, vegetable garden that would be suitable for the suburb. Naturally, a few thrift store books later I had a plan and here are the fruits (pun totally intended) of that labor!

Two books I would highly recommend looking at before starting:
-"Reader's Digest Illustrated Guide to Gardening" (a very good reference book-$5 at thrift)
-"The Victory Garden Companion" (overall good and very "pretty" book that covers all gardening aspects- $9 at close out store)

This instructable is in four basic sections:
1. Bed Preparation
2. Planting
3. Growing and Watering System (including problems experienced and Fixes)
4. Harvest and the Long Term
1 pair of gloves-$2
Dirt/compost x7 or more - may end up about 60 dollars!
Garden Stake- < $10
Plants-$2-20, $40 -60 total
PVC and Fittings- $10
Tape Measure- Free
Pie tins-Free
Rocks, stolen from bottom of one of my trees- Free
Paperclips to hold drip irrigation hoses- Free
Jeep-Free when borrowed.

On one last note before you begin, the whole goal of this project was to grow some healthy, good food as cheaply as I could manage, while leaving my yard mostly in-tact and with as little maintenance for my mom as possible while I am away at school. I have kept these ideas present in my design as seen by the simplicity of the final product. P.S. this instructable is entered in the Get into the Garden Contest and all votes are much appreciated!

Step 1: Plotting your Garden

So, first things first, do you have room for a garden? Of course! For myself I have a medium sized suburban home as I assume most people do, and as such you have room for a small garden bed. While having a potted garden can be good and allow for plants to be all over the place, I wanted to have a nice little spot of my own. I also don't have room to just use half my yard and produce food on a large scale, rather, as most suburbanites, the garden is on the small size.

As I am starting with a limited space, I have a few common plants that I want to grow, but the bed is the real decider of what will be planted. Hence, this instructable will start with the bed. In general there are two choices: raised bed, or, an in ground bed. Raised beds are good in that they provide great drainage and are not really affected by poor natural soil because they are above it. I have very sandy soil and as such will be mixing it to a limited extent with bought soil and compost to have a semi-raised bed.

You want an area that will be receiving at least 6-8 hours of sunlight every day. To get a general idea of what size area in my yard I would be dealing with, I used Google Earth, and the "Path" ruler to find the dimensions of my planting bed.

After an actual inspection of the garden I settled on the same rectangular area viewed on the map. It is important to take into account the slope of your land, as it will affect how your soil holds or loses water. A slight slope is ok, a steep one may mean you need to level the area which can be tough if you do not have a ton of time.
Thanks for this awesome idea it's cheap and simple, I really don't need a fancy raised bed just a plain simple one, the rocks would definitively make it more decorative I'm going to try this method for my vegtable garden if it works well then for a herb garden, also I would buy some plants but grow the rest myself its waaay cheaper, good job! (:
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<p>Thank you for sharing this great <a href="http://www.homeandgardenEasy.com" rel="nofollow">gardening information</a></p> <p>Grtz Albert<br /> <br /> &nbsp;</p>
Oh, and please, if you do buy compost or similar at the store, take care that it's <strong>free of peat</strong>. Why?&nbsp;Read on here (I'm not connected to that organisation or anything, but they explain it much better than I&nbsp;could) <a href="http://www.kew.org/ksheets/peat.html" rel="nofollow">www.kew.org/ksheets/peat.html</a><br /> <br /> Using Peat is Bad! ;-)<br />
On the subject of &quot;what kind of soil do I have?&quot; there's an easy method of finding out at practically no cost:&nbsp;Just take a fairly sized glass jar or other see-through receptable that can be closed, and put a representative mixture of your garden soil in it, filling it about 1/3 full. Fill up with water to the brim, close tightly and shake, so that the soil is well mixed with the water. Then, let stand for one day. As the soil settles, the components (clay, small stones, sand, loam, organic parts)&nbsp;will sink to the bottom, and layers will form according to the heaviness of each component. Then you can see what you have most of and put other stuff in your garden accordingly. Typically, the order of stuff will be:<br /> - stones<br /> - clay<br /> - sand<br /> - loam will dilute in the water, discoloring it, then slowly sink on top of the sand<br /> - humus (organic parts) will swim on top<br /> ---<br /> Another, even easier method is taking some wetted soil into your hand and making a tight fist. Does it form a lump that doesn't break up again when you open your hand? Then clay and loam are in there. Try making a roll like with play dough:&nbsp;The thinner you can make it, the more clay (and less loam) is in the soil. Does it crumble as soon as you open your hands again? Then it's pretty sandy. <br /> ---<br /> There are ways (slow, organic, sustainable) to change almost every kind of soil into another. But bear in mind that the soil you have is typical for your area, so a radical change just to plant something that normally would never grow there is kind of inconsiderate... There are plants for every type of soil and climate!Local gardeners and farmers can tell you which plants grow best where you live!<br />
Nice garden! instructions are clear and materials are affordable. I'm inspired! I want to go outside and start digging. Any pumpkins in your garden? I started a few and too many grew....gotta remove some so the rest can grow more heartily. Want a transplant? or two? Any suggestions on keeping the soil moist for my corn and cucumbers while I go camping? Keep up the good work!!!!
I like it. Its practical and inexpensive, especially when you consider how expensive it is to eat healthy.
Great Work Daniel!
this is something ill have to try!
this is pretty good, it shows beginners how to start a great garden from scratch, nice photos.
thanks a ton, I really wanted to be able to make something where someone who knew pretty much nothing, like myself, could read and learn enough to get things going. I will be adding pictures of the soil and compost I used and may be adding a few more details today as well. I've learned a bunch since beginning that I feel would be helpful for fellow garden newbies. Check back for updates!