How do you start a garden?

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-11-2012
How do you start a garden?
5
Thu, 05-15-2014 - 11:23am

I know you basically plant seeds but I realize it is more complicated than that. I want to try my hand at growing a few things but not sure what to try or how to get started. Any suggestions?

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Thu, 05-15-2014 - 2:04pm

Forget seeds, especially since you are a novice.  Do you want veggies, or flowers?  Either way, the easiest way to start, is go to Home Depot, Lowes, etc, buy a couple big plastic pots, a bag or 2 of soil, and some "starts".  Make sure your pots have drain holes so everything doesn't get waterlogged and rot.  You might want to get some saucers for your pots to stand on.  Get ones about an inch wider than the bottom of the pot.

For flowers, remember they will grow, so don't overfill the pots.  A rule of thumb is "thrillers, fillers, and spillers".  The "thriller" is typically in the middle, is the tallest or largest, and may be a bold color.  The spillers go at the edge, and "spill"  like wave petunias, or sweet potato vine.  Fillers are just that--shorter flowers, or lacy ones that grow between the others.  Make sure everything has the same light requirments.

For veggies, it's even simpler.  Buy what you like to eat.  Tomatoes or peppers are good for a novice, because you can buy a decent sized plant that will begin to bear eariler than a tiny one.  Some of the ones offered at the stores already have flowers, or have set and have a few babies growing.  They also continue to bear as you pick.  Check the light needed for your variety against where your pot will sit, and adjust accordingly.  Fill the pots with dirt, plant your veggie, & water it in.  Plant tomatoes deep, up to the first set of leaves even, because they will root along the whole stem, and they get heavy as the fruit appears.  You might even want to start with cherry or grape tomatoes, or Romas. 

Pots dry out QUICKLY, because they are above ground, so water them till the water flows out the drain hole, every day.  If God waters them, skip that day.  Good Luck.

http://www.homedepot.com/b/Outdoors-Garden-Center-Garden-Plants-Flowers/N-5yc1vZc8rg

http://gardenclub.homedepot.com/category/ediblegardening/

Community Leader
Registered: 02-27-1999
Fri, 05-16-2014 - 3:22pm

If you are going straight into the ground, you will want to remove any grass or top growth.  Then double dig.  Dig deep, fill your wheel barrow with the dirt, then dig again and make a pile off to the side.  Refill the hole (bed) with the top growth (it will die and fertilize from below), then add the contents of the wheelbarrow, then top with the stuff from the deepest layer.  Add compost and/or manure to this dirt.  It's a lot of work but worth it. 

I use both starter plants and seeds.  I grow both vegetables and landscape plants.  The rules are pretty much the same for either.  This year I scattered zinnia seeds into an existing lily bed, and had sprouts up in 3 days.  I also made containers for herb starts, a tomato, and 2 pots of dwarf zinnias from seed.  Those seeds were up in 3 days as well. 

One thing about gardening, the only serious mistake you can make is spraying on a windy day.  Trial and error works as well as experience and science, because Mother Nature is fun that way.  There are no disasters, but usually lots of happy accidents!

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Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Fri, 05-16-2014 - 8:15pm

Sowing seeds directly into the garden can work fine, but is dependent upon temp.  If your zinnias came up within 3 days, then your daytime temps have been reliably above 60(F).  Here in Chi-town, USUALLY we are safe by Mother's Day, but this year, we had frost last night, and snow today.  We've had daytime 50's for over a week.  Then after the zinnias sprout, time to maturity is typically 60 days.  So even if I was safe to plant on Mother's Day, I wouldn't have flowers till the middle of July.  Way easier, and safer, for me to plant starts.  Starts usually withstand a "touch" of frost, and those in pots, or raised planter beds, will, as you said, be above the coldest air.  New sprouts would be toast.

For a novice who wants to BEGIN a garden now, seeds won't give any bang for at least 1.5-2 months.  If she does go with a ground bed, a couple flats will give her some instant color, and make her feel like all that hard work was worth something!

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-11-2012
Mon, 05-19-2014 - 12:01pm

I actually hadn't thought about pots and starter plants so this gives me a lot to think about. My original thought was a little garden patch in the back yard but I like the idea of planters as well. I am thinking about attempting tomatoes and flowers so I may do a little of both. I have never grown anything before so I am looking forward to giving this a try.

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Mon, 05-19-2014 - 8:14pm

A cherry or Roma tomato will grow nicely in a pot, without becoming too much of a wild animal.  Tomatoes are vines, but some of these have been bred to be more of a "bush".  They like sun, so if you have a sunny spot near your back door, that will make it easier for you to water, and to pluck, as the fruit begins to mature.

For your flowers, put annuals in your pots.  Perennials are for after you've mustered some confidance, and USUALLY are better in the ground instead of a pot.