Gardening is a fun and rewarding venture for beginners or seasoned green thumbs alike. The smell of a fresh flower or taste of a homegrown garden vegetable cannot be rivaled by commercial offerings. Don’t let inexperience keep you from digging in the dirt and trying your hand at growing something, a garden is always a work in progress and you’ll learn through trial and error. Get started this growing season with these easy gardening tips for beginners.
Location, Location, Location
Location is the key to success when it comes to growing flowers or vegetables. While there are some flowers (like hostas or impatiens) which will grow well in shady areas, almost all garden plants need a location that receives at least 6 hours of sunshine per day.
You don’t need ample space to start growing plants, a sunny patio or windowsill will suffice for a container garden. A small herb garden that provides fresh herbs year around can be developed in a sunny window, or tomato and basil plants can be grown in one large container on a sunny patio or stoop.
Window boxes attached outside a home or apartment window take up zero land space, yet can yield colorful beauty and fragrant herbs. A mixture of low growing, trailing and tall plants are aesthetically pleasing when grown in window boxes, and aromatic vegetables will allow you to bring a delightful floral scent indoors when the windows are open. Plant window boxes with nectar-producing flowers like petunias to attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
Feed the ground, and the land will feed the garden plants. If using any container (planters, window boxes, etc.) fill the containers with a good quality potting soil mixture and mix in a small amount of slow-release fertilizer before sowing seeds or planting plants.
If you chose to plant in a traditional in-ground garden, till the soil to a depth of 18 inches, then mix in organic matter like compost or well-rotted cow manure before planting or sowing seeds. Organic matter will rot over time and provide a continuous supply of food to plants, it also prevents the soil from compacting so water and nutrients can reach plant roots, and the roots will be able to proliferate through the loose soil.
What organic matter does underground, mulch does on top of the ground. Mulch slowly decomposes and feeds plants, helps retain soil moisture and prevents weed growth. Mulch after garden plants has become established.
Container gardens need a layer of mulch just like an in-ground garden. Add several inches of organic mulch (pine straw, hay, tree bark) around all plants, being careful to keep mulch away from plant stems.