Growing fruits and vegetables is fun and rewarding, and it doesn’t have to be hard. Achieve gardening success by digging in with some simple tricks.
The trick to great gardening is healthy soil and lots of patience. A garden doesn’t grow overnight.
9 Expert Gardening Tips for Beginners
1. Start small. By starting with a small footprint, you’ll get to know your garden, climate and how much time you’re willing to invest. Don’t plant more than you can manage.
2. Grow from the ground up. All gardeners know there is a big difference between dirt and soil. Good soil is rich, black in color, and full of organic matter and worms. Begin adding amendments to your planting area in early spring to create healthy soil. To learn more about your soil, perform a home soil test or have one done through your local extension office.
3. Let the sun shine. Most veggies need 6 hours of sun a day. Plant where the garden will get the most sun. Check tags or ask your garden center associate how much sun a plant needs before buying.
4. Keep well-watered. While all plants need water to survive, some are thirstier than others. Veggies, especially, are heavy drinkers. Signs of under-watering include dry soil and wilted leaves in mid-day heat.
Water the roots of your plants slowly and deeply, and to minimize evaporation, water plants in the early morning. Or for more efficiency, install a drip-irrigation system.
5. Pick favorites. Grow foods you and your family love to eat and you’ll be hooked on gardening. Choose plants for your climate, soil conditions and sunlight. The easiest veggies for beginners are lettuce, peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers.
6. Give me space. Seeds and seedlings may look small now, but they’ll soon take over and fight for nutrients, sunlight and water. Follow plant tags for spacing, planting and care instructions. Tomatoes and peppers especially require extra room and supports like stakes or cages.
Remember what you’ve planted by marking each row with plant labels.
7. Feed well. Plants absorb nutrients from the soil as they grow. Depending on your soil type and the plants, you may need to replace nutrients with an organic fertilizer to support healthy growth.
8. How much mulch is too much? Mulch keeps weeds at bay and conserves moisture. Spread a few inches of organic mulch around the roots of each plant. Don’t let mulch touch the stems and don’t mound it like a volcano, as this can promote disease or insect infestation.
9. Whack weeds. The most successful plant you’ll grow? Weeds. Pull them as soon as they’re identified. The longer weeds grow, the more seeds they spread. Lay cardboard or newspaper under mulch to keep weeds at bay for a while.