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Novice Garden Tips

Updated: Sep 13, 2022

Gardening can be hard, but you can make it easier to do when you understand what is needed to begin. It's more than just sowing seeds and waiting, although I've seen plenty of people get lucky on the first try. I call that being blessed by Gaia (Mother Earth). Every once in a while, she allows a beginner gardener to grow an abundance of veggies even though they don't know what they're doing lol. I take that as her saying "learn as you go", which is what I tell people what the gardening experience is like. However, it helps tremendously when you have a little knowledge before hand.

Find out your grow zone and last frost date.

This is the very first thing that you should do as a beginner gardener. Your grow zone let's you know what plants grow best in your area based on temperature, and your last frost date which is based on your zip code. This helps you determine when to sow your seeds. I am in zone 7b. My last frost date is around the last week of March and sometimes the first week of April. My first frost is usually the second week in November. My total frost-free growing season is 230 days give or take. I typically start my seeds indoors in my house and in my greenhouse 6-8 weeks before my last frost to get a head start on the growing season. This is called extending the grow season.

Pay attention to the pattern of the sun.

You'll need to do this for every season. Keep a record of how much sunlight your backyard or patio will get. Take note of the sun's pattern from the time the sun comes up, and every 4 hours afterwards. Then you'll be able to determine how many hours of sunlight each area of your yard or patio gets. You'll want at least 6 hours of sun for your garden.

Make a plan, start small and grow what you like.

After keeping track of the sun, you can figure out what location your garden will be in. And so you don't get too overwhelmed, start small and grow the things you enjoy eating, and maybe one thing that you've never eaten before, or one thing you find interesting. In my very first garden, I started out with my favorite herbs like cilantro, thyme, and rosemary. I also grew watermelon, lettuce and corn just to try it out. Some easy things to grow include:

  • tomatoes

  • lettuce

  • basil

  • squash

  • peas

  • radishes

  • parsley

  • cucumbers

  • beans

Research the plants you want to grow

One of the biggest beginner gardener mistakes is not researching and learning how each plant grows. Plants are like people, they all have their own special needs in order to thrive, and we must provide that for them. This is why it is important to find out your grow zone and frost dates. For example, you shouldn't grow lettuce in the middle of summer. It will begin to flower (bolt) and produce seeds before you even get a chance to harvest it. The leaves become bitter and won't be any good to eat. The only benefit is that you'll be able to save the seeds and plant them in the fall, or next spring which is the weather lettuce prefers to grow in. It's a cool weather crop. It has shallow roots and can grow in partial shade. It likes to be well watered and is best picked during the morning hours just before the sunlight hits it, or in the evening after the sun goes down. That's when it tastes the best. All of that is required to grow lettuce, but may not apply to other veggies. So be sure to learn how to care for each variety of fruit, herbs and veggies.

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