Imagine a garden filled with flowers, fruits, herbs and vegetables. In today’s economy, a kitchen garden makes sense. And flowers that beautify your home and add value to your property are also within reach. All it takes is a little know how, and a little more hard work. Gardening needn’t be expensive or time-consuming. You just need the right tools for the job.

Basic tools are really all that’s required for a productive and attractive garden. A spade for digging beds, a hand trowel and some some well fitted gloves will get you started. Be sure to wear sturdy shoes when digging with the spade to protect your feet from injury. You can purchase all of these items at your local home improvement store. You should be able to buy plants and supplies there too, depending on what you decide to grow. You just need the right information on what and when to plant.

A few minutes checking on your planting zone to find out what types of plants will thrive in your climate is time well spent. You can find plant hardiness zones on the US Department of Agriculture’s website. Seed packets also contain this information as well as the planting instructions. You just need the right plants for your garden design.

After checking out what zone you live in and deciding what you’d like to plant, you can prepare the garden beds. Typically, a “kitchen garden” consists of fruits and/or vegetables, herbs and edible flowers. Since the majority of veggies require full sun, you should choose a very sunny spot. Whether you build up the beds with a frame or dig into the ground, check on the soil quality and augment with nutrients appropriate for the types of food you’ll be growing. A chicken wire fence around the vegetable plot should be enough to keep little critters out.

Many people like to post markers down the rows of vegetables to identify what is growing. It’s always a good idea to keep the seed packets throughout the growing season should you need to refer back for a picture or some information. Purchased plants often come with a tag that provides this info. Keep the tag as a reference also. It’s helpful to know what your growing plant looks like so you don’t mistake it for a weed that needs pulling.

Your mature vegetables should be harvested continuously for best results. Don’t wait too long or the plant could bolt, which is a simple word for overgrow. Overgrown lettuce is inedible. Giant zucchini are less tender and flavorful. Tomatoes left too long on the vine are at risk for infestation. Herbs also benefit from regular picking; the more you use, the more they grow.

Flowers generally require less care than vegetables; deadheading the spent blossoms and occasional watering is probably all you’ll have to do. When choosing flowers, try to entertain a mix of perennials and annuals. Perennials will grow back again the next year and for many to come. Annuals only grow for the season, but can add a colorful punch anytime and anywhere in your garden.

Maintenance of your garden is an important chore that shouldn’t take too long. To keep weeds at bay, mulch around your plants with wood chips or even shredded newspaper. This will help the soil hold moisture better, and keep the weed population down. Vegetables require regular watering to keep healthy and productive, so be sure keep the soil moist. Watch for any signs of infestation, and take quick steps to pick off any bugs you see.

So don’t be afraid to try a simple flower or vegetable garden. With all the basics, you will be growing in no time.