Tips for Beginning Gardeners
By Rhonda Crank
Beginning a garden is to embark into a world full of joy, excitement, and reward. For those of you who are just beginning to garden I say, “Welcome! Enjoy your mistakes, learn from them.” As my grandfather told me, “The basics are the same for everyone, but we all have our own way of gardening.” Don’t be afraid to try and fail, learn and implement the lessons in your next garden. There is a great deal of information available to you, especially with the Internet, but that can be kind of daunting. I suggest finding a resource or two that you can identify with and trust. If you don’t have someone in your family who is a gardener, the best thing to do is to find a local farmer and learn from them, you can start by visiting your local farmers’ market. Most of us are happy to share our knowledge with someone who truly wants to learn.
I was fortunate to be born and raised a southern farm girl. When we are raised in a certain way, we tend to forget that not everyone knows what we know. Expecting a beginning gardener to know what we have learned over a lifetime, is like expecting me to go to Atlanta International Airport and know my way around! With that scary thought in mind, there are a few tips I have learned that I would like to share with you. Hopefully, these will enhance your gardening experience.
Have a “go to” person or book – My grandfather and grandmother taught me everything their parents taught them about gardening. I am so blessed to have had them as my grandparents. Try to find a local farmer or family member to help you.
Keep a journal – My system is simple, I use a spiral bound notebook. You want to record your garden layout – what you plant, where you plant it, and when you plant – a kind of sketch of your garden. Keep track of what you ordered and from whom you ordered or purchased it. At the end of the season, write down which variety you and your family liked best, which produced best, things like that. This will help you with your crop rotation and keep you from ordering something you did not like, something that did not perform well, or from a company you did not like doing business with.
Save your seeds – While some people say this isn’t necessary, I strongly disagree with them. Finding a seed company who has heirloom, non-GMO seeds, is not as easy as it used to be. If we don’t have our own seeds for something, we order from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and Wood Prairie Farms. While I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend these, you may find others you prefer using. It isn’t a hard task to save seeds from most of your plants. See our post on seed saving.
You have to “visit” you garden every day – Some days may not take more than 10 to 15 minutes. Other days, you may spend an hour or more, depending on your garden size. You should pull weeds or hoe them, check for signs of bugs or worms and deal with those, check for ripe fruit, hill potatoes and corn, just generally take care of whatever you see needs to be done.
This isn’t a complete list of course, but these are food for thought. You can find more information on our website, or you can always get in touch by email, or the Contact Me page on the site. The most important thing I want to say is, “Enjoy your garden today.” Be sure to share some of your own lessons, tips, and tricks in the comments.
If you are on Pinterest, check out my garden board “Let’s Talk Dirt.”
Safe and Happy Journey,
Rhonda and The Pack
The Pack on a really cold day here – 24 F outside
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