Gardening isn’t rocket science. It’s harder! If you’re one of those fortunate people who have a green thumb, consider yourself blessed and enjoy the fruits of your labor. If you’re someone who can kill a cactus in a week, but would still love to have your own garden, read on.

Gardening can be fun and it should be! Don’t view the process as laborious work that must be performed to spring up a few veggies and fruits. Think of it as a spiritual adventure that provides time away from being cooped up inside.

See there. Aren’t you more excited already?

If you’re putting down a garden for the first time, here’s some rather basic rules that will ensure a future harvest.

1) Location is everything – Growing a successful garden is like growing a successful business in that the spot you choose can have the greatest effect on your success. A common first-time mistake is building a garden in a spot with too much shade. Your garden needs at least 6 hours of sunglight every day so steer clear of trees and make sure that you don’t have to travel too far for watering.

2) Start with a small garden – It’s easy to want to jump in and go crazy with buying every seed at the department store but even a small garden is going to take some serious work and the first year is the most difficult. Simply start small and if you desire a bigger garden, be sure to plant in a spot that will allow you to grow your garden bigger every year. When you start hauling soil in there, you’ll realize that even a small garden is a big project.

3) Buy lumber and screws – It’s tempting to use railroad ties or bricks and we’re not saying you can’t (as many have), but keep in mind that railroad ties are often treated with toxic chemicals so they don’t make the best choice for growing food. If you’re a first-timer, nothing is simpler than a raised garden, which just requires you to slap some lumber together and secure it with screws. It makes for a great perimeter and when it’s time to keep those rabbits and moles out, you’ll find it much easier to attach a small wire fence.

4) Use good soil – Good soil is the secret so top off your garden with high-quality stuff. Most people can’t find this in their back yard unless they dig down deep with a tiller. Even then, it’s best to purchase some high-quality topsoil and add it in with a little compost and peat. If you get find some manure, your garden is sure to benefit from it.

5) Plant and reap – Plant your seedlings in evenly-spaced rows at a minimum of six inches and a full foot works better. Water every other day – unless Mother Nature does it for you. The best time for watering is in the morning hours, else mildew can become a problem. Melons tend to do better with more water but tomatoes and smaller plants can be easily killed off if they receive too much water.

Enjoy your harvest and go bigger next year!