Are you new to gardening? Not sure where to begin? If you’re just starting out, you’re not alone. All of us here at Gardening Know How enjoy helping aspiring gardeners (and seasoned ones too), but we’re not just a bunch of people that write about it – we are gardeners ourselves! We love nothing more than getting our hands dirty and growing plants. We want you to share in this passion.
Starting a Garden – Advice from GKH Staffers
Starting a garden shouldn’t be frustrating or intimidating. And anyone can do it regardless of where you are or how much space you have. We all have to start somewhere, and even those of us that have been gardening for a while now had a few bumps and snags along the way. With that in mind, we’d like to pass along some tips for new gardeners that we’ve learned through personal experience.
Choose Plants That are Easy
East-to-grow plants and those that produce well are one of the top tips for anyone new to gardening.
Heather recommends that people start out with a tomato plant in a container. “First, because tomatoes in containers are pretty easy to grow. No weeding, and pests are minimal. Since you do have to water, this eases a new gardener into having to take regular care of a garden without overwhelming them like a [vegetable] plot can do. Second, so many people these days have never had a ripe-from-the-vine tomato. The taste of a truly vine ripe tomato is completely different and significantly better than anything you can find in a grocery store. It gives a new gardener something rewarding to look forward to near the end of the season, and helps reinforce that gardening is a rewarding hobby.”
Liz also thinks tangible rewards are a great motivator for new gardeners, and nothing beats fast, easy-growing vegetables that produce like crazy. “Zucchini, green beans, and peas are all great bets.”
Tyler recommends starting out with easy plants like sweet potatoes. “This plant will make any beginner happy.” Okra is another. And for those gardening inside, he suggests aloe. “You can’t go wrong with aloe.” He likes pothos as beginner plants too. I agree. Some of my very first houseplants were pothos and the cuttings are super easy to root.
For a veggie garden, Amy recommends planting radishes, green onion, kale, and beans or peas. “All of these are easy to grow.” Most herbs are fairly easy too. For flower lovers, she recommends daylilies or irises that will return year after year with minimal fuss. “Also, plant annuals such as zinnias, cosmos, and marigolds to give bright pops of color without micromanagement.
Start Out Small!
Amy also suggested that you don’t plan a big extravagant garden when you are just starting out. “Begin with just a few things and learn as you go.” This tip is one we all seem to share, and Heather agrees. “I think the most common mistake I see new gardeners do is they take on too much too fast. Then,” she adds, “when the garden fails because they simply can’t get to it all, they feel like they failed. They did not fail, they simply got overwhelmed. Start with a small herb garden or just a few tomato plants or a container of petunias. Then, as you gain confidence in your gardening skills, add a little more.”
Bonnie also feels starting small is a good idea, along with starting veggies. “Few things are more rewarding than growing your own food. And veggies are easy. Don’t start with a grandiose plan or you might risk disappointing yourself. Stick with the basics until you get a feel for what you are doing and then add in some new stuff as a challenge.” Stacey added the fact that gardening in raised beds is the perfect way to start a vegetable garden. “You can control soil, watering and weeding in a very compact space. Start small and grow each year with your confidence.”
Grow Plants Hardy to Your Area
“Don’t buy a plant until you know it will work in your garden,” adds Mary Ellen. “Read and get information first with plants that are suited to a particular climate.” Yea, I definitely agree with this one. When I started out, I just planted whatever, wherever and was sorely disappointed when they crapped out.
Becca stresses the importance of growing vegetables in the right area too, and keeping it weeded and watered properly. She adds, “Succulents are very easy if you can lay off the water. So much incorrect information on that. Ask questions, research and read regularly. There is always something new to learn!” Stacey agrees. “Visit local garden centers and ask questions. Many garden centers have test gardens and you can see plants in the landscape at mature sizes.”
But don’t feel limited. Laura said, “Try a new vegetable or flower every year. Sometimes you find a real gem.”
So there you have it. The most important things to remember when you’re new to gardening is to go with easy plants that will be hardy in your region and start out small, working up as your skill level and confidence increases. It only starts with planting a seed and watching it grow. Then you’ll be hooked just like us!