Fresh, ripe, homegrown tomatoes and pretty flowers aren’t the only reasons you would be motivated to get your hands dirty in the mud. Studies have reported gardening can help in lifting mood, reducing stress, and providing a more positive perspective of life. In this post, we will cover everything related to gardening for beginners.
Think of it like this. In a constantly disorienting, unstable, and often enraging world, who takes the time to sit down and simply watch hydrangeas fill their backyard with hues of lavender and pink. Nowadays, more people are starting to discover the joys of gardening.
However, toiling in the soil is never an easy task – and gardening is so much more than watering your plants and chucking the mud. Knowing what makes the plants grow is what differentiates a great gardener from a mediocre one. Because anyone could plant a few seeds and call it a day.
Aside from the willingness to get a little dirty, building a garden requires patience and knowhow about types of plants and how to arrange them, the best way to nourish the soil, and the proper tools to use. Today, we will be sharing the ultimate guide on gardening for beginners. So, whether you want to detoxify your mind with some homegrown greens, want to incorporate a healthier habit into your lifestyle, or just want to enjoy the fresh produce from your harvest, here is gardening 101 for you.
- 1 Why Gardening is Amazing
- 2 It’s Good for the World
- 3 Good for Brain and Body
- 4 For Mental Health and De-Stressing
- 5 What the Plant Needs
- 6 Sun
- 7 Water
- 8 Soil and Nutrients
- 9 Get in the Zone
- 10 Growing Season
- 11 Choose a Location
- 12 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Start Gardening
- 13 Watering Techniques
- 14 Essential Equipment
- 15 Preparing for the Plant
- 16 Protect the Plants
- 17 Easy to Grow Plants
- 18 Fruits
- 19 Vegetables
- 20 Flowers
- 21 Bottom Line
Why Gardening is Amazing
Count down the topics that are the trendiest at the moment. Would you say it’s Tiktok or K-pop? We would surely say gardening. Before you click off this post, here’s our reasoning.
According to the National Gardening Association, the increase in home-grown food production has been this much in given groups:
Low-income households: 38%
General population: 17%
It’s Good for the World
It might be the environmental sustainability, or the cost-effectiveness, or the sheer nutritional value associated with food plucked straight from your garden, but food gardening has generated a ton of hype around it.
Plus, the pandemic has truly put a lot of things into the perspective. People are acknowledging how the food supply isn’t as constant and endless as it seems.
Reinvigorated interest in gardening might stem from local food movements. When you’re more conscious about health, you want greater access to high-quality, healthy food. You also would want to know where the food is coming from.
Does this not match the concept of organic gardening to the tee?
Good for Brain and Body
Besides boosting geraniums health, gardening also offers significant health benefits. The simple act of pulling your sleeves out and walking amongst vegetables and flowers you’ve planted encourages you to engage in other activities and behaviors that promote wellness. For instance, gardeners are more likely to consume larger portions of vegetables and fruits than non-gardeners.
Home gardeners who are inclined towards growing food organically decrease the exposure of greenery to pesticides. At the end of the cycle, people consume produce with higher nutritional value.
For Mental Health and De-Stressing
One study has concluded that gardening can be counted as a moderate-intensity workout and helps people live longer. Many gardeners term caring for plants “therapeutic.” Plants naturally have a calming effect in any environment they are placed in. Imagine being surrounded by an entire garden of them.
This is your sign to put those gloves on and start gardening. Whether you have an entire back yard to dedicate to it or a small portion of your balcony, this guide will contain gardening for beginners of all statures.
But before all that, what’s the number one rule in gardening that you must carry with yourself at all times? Let go and have fun. Like any activity, gardening takes time to master. And we promise, it’s not as scary as it seems! In fact, gardening for beginners primarily consists of a few key ideas.
What the Plant Needs
The best part about living things might be how everything has a unique personality. Not unlike humans, plants have their own set of behavioral patterns, and they like different things. Some plants thrive in sunny and hot temperatures while some prefer cooler, drier climates.
The entire process is widely based on trial and error, so if your experimentation leads to failure, don’t be disheartened. You need to learn what works best for a specific kind of plant. With that said, there are a few standard ingredients every plant needs:
Being the only living creatures which can harness the energy from the sun and convert it into food through a complex process, plants are already magical in their own ways. As plants need sun to conduct photosynthesis, most of them need a healthy helping of sunlight per day. There are also plants that prefer darker conditions and will be the best for people who can’t afford to keep their plants out in the sun the whole day.
Nothing beats the unadulterated pleasure of taking a long sip of cool water on a hot day after spending multiple hours in the heat. Plants, like humans, need a generous amount of water nearby to keep growing. In some cases, you may even have to water your garden every day for the plants to be happy.
Gardening for beginners starts with finding the right location for your plants. Many people’s decisions revolve around the availability of water sources. If it isn’t close to the garden plot, you will run into a lot of inconvenience while trying to take care of it on a daily basis. Under those circumstances, fix a system to transport water into the garden. In the midst of serving a drink to your garden, don’t forget to take a sip yourself from time to time. Stay hydrated!
Soil and Nutrients
Plants need nourishment – and lots of them.
In bigger farming operations, there is a constant circulation of a variety of nutrients since the soil is housing many different plants. This is what “fertile” soil means – a land rich with nutrients for healthy plant growth.
If your garden doesn’t go through an annual crop rotation cycle, you may need to manually add in nutrients. Unfortunately, no matter how much experience you have in gardening, unless you have some supernatural skills that tell you about soil condition, it’s not possible to claim any land is fertile without testing it. There are tons of DIY testing kits available to tell you how alkaline or acidic your soil is. You are looking for a pH level between 6.1 and 7.0.
There are some plants which like a bit more acid in the soil. For your leafy buddies, a pH of 5.1 to 6.0 will do. For those that don’t, try adding in a little bit lime (not the fruit, the stone). Anything lower than that could require a little line too, since that means it’s much acidic.
What highly acidic soil does it break down all the important nutrients so they move away from the soil. Under 4.7 the bacteria cannot dissolve organic matter (i.e., manure), so the plants receive even lesser food.
However, too alkaline and plants get lesser helpings of vital minerals such as manganese, phosphorus, and iron. Raise the standards of the soil by adding acidifying agents like iron sulfate and sulfur.
For city dwellers, make sure to check for lead in the soil, especially if your home has little ones who might get themselves dirty in the mud.
Get in the Zone
You can only flourish when you are working and growing in an optimum setting. Plants are no exception. They require optimum temperature to grow.
Understanding the climate you live in becomes a big factor in determining the type of plant you can grow. Generally, for plants and seeds you buy online, the information is available on the website so you can decide which would work the best.
Learn about the plant hardiness zones to better understand your living climate. They’re based on the coldest winter temperatures which will inform you which plant is most likely to do best in which location. For zones inside the U.S., the USDA has prepared this useful map. There are many more local gardening sources for beginners you can look into.
This information is even more important when you wish to grow perennial plants (plants like shrubs, trees, and flowers that can live for many years) as the coldest winter temperatures pass verdict on whether these plants can thrive there or not.
The growing season is the average time per year when the temperature rests over freezing points both during the day and night.
When planting annual plants, knowing key facts about the growing season is particularly useful.
For example, if you’re planning on planting melons, your best bet is to find a variant that can grow entirely within the growing season.
Choose a Location
By this point you should’ve understood that the size of a garden isn’t limited to the vastness of a back yard or deck. In fact, gardening isn’t even restricted to the great outdoors – you can care for your plants from within the four walls of your home and still receive the same stress-reducing advantages you were roped in for. Additionally, it improves air quality indoors.
Indoor plant cultivation is much easier than you thought.
As an alternative for people who don’t have access to much space either indoors or outdoors, community gardens also provide an opportunity for you to interact with like minded gardeners in your neighborhood.
If you’re building the garden outdoors, try to select a place that optimizes every element your plant needs – good soil, water, light, and nutrients. Plants can be grown directly in the soil – the easiest and most affordable method, or they can be planted in raised beds or containers. Raised beds are simply soil filled big wooden boxes that are about 6” to 24” off the ground. They can be exceptionally productive, but even the production of the beds costs extra money. Utilizing smaller spaces is one of the wisest ways to start gardening for beginners. They’re incredibly flexible and you won’t have to pay too big of a price in case you mess up (which we all do from time to time). Your plants will require extra water when they are planted in containers since these holders dry out faster than beds in the garden.
Luckily, most of these gardens are rather small, making watering a task of a few minutes.
Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Start Gardening
Yes, we are aware. All the soil and compost seem quite overwhelming. And add all those pointy objects in the mix and heads start spinning. But get past the initial barricade of fear and doubt and you’re in for a real treat.
The best thing about starting a garden is that, with such a large range of vegetables and plants to grow, your patch of green can be decorated with any and every color in the gardening spectrum. Figure out the answers to these questions before beginning:
- What kind of plants are you excited about? Many people wish to give their yard a makeover through unique varieties of flowers and creepers. Others are tempted to see their salad emerge from the ground. Know your aim and the rest will pan out on its own.
- For food gardeners, what do you like to eat? There’s no reason to cultivate a 7-pound pumpkin if the taste doesn’t do anything for you. Grow things you and your family like cooking and eating.
- How much light and space do you have to dedicate to gardening? Consider if you’re gardening in containers or in the ground, how long the area receives light every day, and if any shade is offered at all. But you can still garden pretty much anywhere.
- How much time will you be spending in the garden? Plants need a regular You need to be realistic about how much time you can spare to weed, water, and so on. This is why small scale gardening for beginners is a good idea. Learn the ropes before making a bigger commitment. And if you love it, you can always extend operations.
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to how much water plants need, because the answer varies depending on multiple factors. Drier and hotter air will suck moisture from soils and plants more quickly, so more watering is required to keep the temperatures from climbing.
The kind of soil in your garden also affects the amount of water your plants will be able to access. As a rule of thumb, plants need enough water to fill the ground with one inch of water per week. Interesting enough, in contrast to popular belief, it’s actually better for the plants to get this water through watering once or twice a week rather than a little every day. Consider your plants are following an intermittent fasting plan.
A simple way to check if there is enough water for the plants is to stick a finger into the soil. If you feel the moistness two or three inches under the surface, it should be okay.
It’s best to use a sprinkler or watering can because dumping too much water onto the plants can be pretty damaging for them. The task is cut in half on a rainy day. Hooray!
A bad workman always blames their tools. A horrible gardener, however, has none. Keep in mind that you don’t need to be equipped with an entire arsenal, but there are some important tools every gardener should own.
If you develop the taste for it, there is an endless madness surrounding the variety of gardening equipment the market has to offer. But hey, you didn’t get a new addiction from us!
The bigger your gardening plans, the more tools you’ll usually need. A major reason people are into gardening is because it has a significant impact of reducing food costs. Buying unnecessary equipment is actually being counterproductive.
If you’re in this camp, start with the minimum and add things as you go.
Let’s start with the simplest of the kind – container gardening. You will need the given tools:
- Potting soil
- Watering can
- Small trowel (a sturdy kitchen spoon will do too)
For beds in the ground or raised beds, it’s helpful to own:
- Watering can
- Digging fork
You probably will need heavier equipment for more capacious gardens, like a rototiller to prepare the soil, but if you want to get a little exercise done through gardening, skip this one.
Preparing for the Plant
Finally, it’s time to lay down some roots.
When buying plants, we receive the option of small starter plants or seeds. Many flowers and vegetables are easier to cultivate from seed, making that the better choice is certain occasions. Substituting plants for seeds is good when:
- The growing season is rather short
- A plant is harder to grow from a seed
- A larger plant is the aesthetic you were going for.
Or, you can do a “best of both worlds” moment and start the seeds inside the points which will later be transplanted outdoors. The planting directions will depend on what you are planting. Typically, the seed packaging comes with everything you need to know and follow. And in case you are still not clear on what to do, the internet is always there with its hoard of answers.
Seeds can be planted in geometric patterns or rows and this utilizes space the best. Simply put the seeds in the soil (the depth depends on the choice of plant) before putting on the cover of soil and water.
There are some plants specifically made for gardening for beginners. For these starter plants, start by digging a hole big enough to accommodate whatever you will be transplanting so the roots have enough growing room.
Gently pack on soil near the roots to keep the plant on the same level over the ground like it did in the container. Make sure to water the plants or seeds properly after planting.
Protect the Plants
Till now was the easy part. Once the plants are growing, the biggest challenge is to maintain the growth through scheduled weeding, pest control, and checkups.
Weeds are relentless, to a certain extent that is, and that’s fine – so long as they don’t squeeze the life out of your plants. The best solution is to weed once a week and prevent them from overpowering the plants. Generally, it’s easier to do this task when the soil is wetter. For dry soil, use a hoe. Covering the ground with straw or mulch can help decrease weeds while locking the moisture in.
Garden pests (the usual bugs and annoying critters) as well as disasters are enough to test the patience of the most experienced gardeners. But these issues can mostly be fixed with enough planning.
Many harmful diseases and bugs are more likely to attack the plant when it’s stressed, so ensuring proper supply of water, sun, and nutrients will decrease your overall gardening problems to a huge extent.
There are multiple organic choices to control and prevent garden diseases and pests, so don’t think you are limited to pesticides. Animal critters such as gardens and raccoons can be harder to handle but if you put your wall up higher (literally) and make the fences taller, you can keep these pesky beings at bay.
Easy to Grow Plants
We couldn’t end a guide on gardening for beginners without mentioning actual plants that any novice could grow without much worry. Let’s look at some fruits, veggies, and flowers anyone could care for:
- Strawberry: These versatile pockets of juicy goodness can be grown in hanging baskets, containers, window boxes, or in the ground. Wouldn’t you love a fresh, sweet strawberry with your pancakes every morning?
- Raspberry: Self-supporting raspberries can be planted in clumps across the garden or in containers. They can be harvested between late summer and early autumn every year. Maintenance is pretty simple – shear the canes to level zero once in February.
- Blueberry: Fragrant flowers in spring, visually pleasing foliage in autumn, and yummy, nutritious fruits in late summer – blueberries are what we would call “the perfect beginner plant.” While they do take about three years to fruit each time, they are super low maintenance and look attractive sitting as patio plants in their idle years.
- Radish: A salad and pickle staple, radishes are easy to grow in either the ground or in containers throughout the entire summer. “French Breakfast 3” is a classic “old is gold” situation whereas you could plant “Rainbow Mixed” to give your plate a twist of flavors and color.
- Potato: Potatoes are fun to grow in the sense that they need next to no care. In fact, they grow in potato bags partially filled with compost. The entire process is covering the green shoots with compost and watering them.
- Peas: The trouble-free crop peas thrive in colder weather. Put them straight under the ground between March to June and expect your June to August plates to be filled with the most delectable little goodies. They require a little support for the stems – get some chicken wire or any netting at all and erect it amongst supports on either ends of the row. When you taste your homegrown peas, you will rediscover the taste as fresh produce tastes 100% better than market bought ones.
- Sunflower: Want to impress your friends and family with your rad gardening skills that you managed to earn in under a year? Sunflowers! These beautiful flowers grow up to 14 feet tall and are surprisingly easy to grow. Sow the seeds right into the soil in a sheltered, sunny spot and watch them grow into giants! Make sure to attach support at the stems of the flowers.
- Nigella (Love in A Mist): Nigellas are another good addition to the list of plants perfect for gardening for beginners. They pretty much take care of themselves as the seeds are scattered across the soil. With soft ferny leaves and flowers that shine like jewels, nigellas are tougher than they seem.
- Marigold: Marigolds are bedding plants perfect for young gardeners. Seeds are easy to work with and they grow relatively quicker, so you won’t have to wait too long to see your yard fill with the prettiest petals. From small varieties for containers and beds to tall ones for the border, there’s a marigold variant perfect for every location.
There you go! That’s everything to know about gardening for beginners.
Remember, even with the required research, gardening is slow to take flight. But once it does, every bit of effort is justified.
Get on building your personal little grocery store/paradise within your own turf. Great things can happen when you add a little green in your life.
Also Read: Gardening and Landscaping Laws in Virginia – State Gardener