Garden Tips for Beginners

Posted by N. Astrid Hoffman on

Essential Garden Tips for Beginners

Over the years we have been reached out by many newbie gardeners on how to start a garden from seed.  We created a post on "How to Start a Garden from Seed."  This will be a great place to start, in addition to reading over local garden blogs and gardening books for your region.  These experts will provide you with insights and tips for your area while also helping you to get an understanding of this exciting new endeavor you're about to embark on! 
Our recommendation is to start small, you do not want to overwhelm yourself with a large garden your first year.  Get yourself acquainted with your yard, sun exposure and orientation and the basics you will need to understand before you plant a successful garden! 
Growing your own food is one of the most ancient and satisfying activities we can be involved in.  It is a journey that invites you into a new world that allows you see your yard and growing food in a new light!  It is a deeply gratifying and fulfilling hobby that can transcend your wellbeing and health.

Gardens can be started at different times of the year but understanding the harvest time will help you work backwards and plan your planting times properly.

Gardening is a journey and having a set of knowledge base is important to understand how to best succeed.  Every plant grows differently and requires different things from the amount of light and water to being started indoors versus preferring to be planted directly in the garden.

Transplanting seeds

A basic gardening book is essential as you begin your journey.  Understanding key components will ensure a more successful garden!

        1. Choose your seeds, decide what you enjoy eating and what you would like to grow. Research if it is necessary to plant more seed in succession.  This assures you that you have food for the coming months and seasons.  Not everything needs to be planted in succession. Make sure to choose seeds that are appropriate for your climate and the time of year you want to plant them.

        2. Plan your garden, the location, orientation of the sun and how much room you need for the seeds you will be planting.  Get soil samples done of your soil before planting, this is especially important in urban settings where soil contamination is possible.  Amendments may be necessary and soil samples will inform you of what minerals you may need to add.

        3. Be prepared with appropriate supplies: seed trays,  organic potting soil, water, and labels. We recommend using a seedling tray with a heated mat and dome for optimal germination.  Tomatoes, peppers and other heat-loving plants need these conditions for proper germination.  These tabletop mini-greenhouses can be used for years to come and will provide the optimal growing conditions for strong seedlings.  Initially your tabletop greenhouse will not take much room, but as your seedlings grow, they will require repotting and take up more space.  Take this into consideration.

        4. Fill your seed trays with potting soil.  Make sure the soil is loose and not too compacted.

        5. Our seed packets are filled with excellent information that you will find helpful as well.  Follow these instructions to determine how deep to plant the seeds. Place one or two seeds in each cell and lightly cover them with soil. Water the soil gently. Not all seeds want to be started indoors, many prefer direct seeding into the ground.  Read the seed packet for this detailed information.

        6. Label your seeds: Use any method that works for you to know what is in each cell and the day it was planted.  A garden journal is also an excellent compliment in this journey to provide you with further information.

        7. Place your seed trays in a warm and bright location.  A grow light can be helpful in northern states during the winter months.

        8. Keep the soil evenly moist but not too wet.  Do not let it dry out, this will kill your seeds. 

        9. It may take a few days or weeks for your seeds to germinate. Be patient and keep an eye on them. Once they start to grow, thin them out if needed so there is only one plant per cell.

        10. Repot your seedlings as they begin to grow out of their cells.  Do not let them get root-bound, this can stunt them.  Be gentle and do not disturb the roots.

        11. After your seedlings have grown out of their containers and are ready to be transplanted into the garden, they must be hardened-off first.  This requires the starts to gradually be exposed to the elements of the sun and the wind.  Taking them out daily and bringing them back in is key.
        12. Once your seedlings have been harden-off and are big enough, you can transplant them into your garden or into larger containers. 
        13. Do not transplant on a hot day, as they will wilt.  Transplant on a cooler day or in the evening.  Water them well and watch them as they acclimate to their new home. 

Garden harvest

Gardening is a process and there will be triumphs and failures.  Learning from what works and what  does  not work is part of the progress.  It is a learning journey and as long as you stay open to learn and improve you will continue to move in the direction towards being about to grow your own food!  Gardening is a lifelong journey that teaches patience, persistence, gentleness and humility.   There is always more to learn and in that process your wonder and awe will also begin to expand and grow!  Growing your food from seed is a miracle and it begins today with planting that seed!

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