Beginning the Garden

Where do we start?

“Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start!” – The Sound of Music, Rogers and Hammerstein

We were all once beginners… 

Starting a garden sounds like a huge project. But it does not have to be hard. Think about these next few ideas as you consider where to begin your gardening adventure!







Questions to Ask…

Starting your gardening project will be easier if you have an idea of your goals in mind. Gardening is not always an easy task, but there are ways to start reaching your goals as you learn more about how to care for your garden, whatever size it is.

Starting a garden is an exciting challenge, and having your plants grow and thrive is a great reward for your efforts. 




Garden (noun):

“A plot of ground where herbs, fruits, flowers or vegetables are cultivated”, and also “a container planted with a variety of small plants”

– Merriam-Webster Dictionary


What do you REALLY want to grow in your garden?

Is there a special plant that you love?

Do you have a favorite kind of food that you want to eat?

Some goals are bigger or harder than others, but this will give us something to aim for, and encouragement to keep going.





Why do you want to grow a garden?

Do you want to grow your own food at home?

Are you looking for a new hobby to try?

Are you hoping to grow beautiful flowers to enjoy?

This question will also give you a sense of direction and goals for your gardening adventure.


What kind of space do you have for growing your garden?

Do you have indoor space or outdoor space?

Do you have a sunny spot or a shady spot?

Do you have a spot in the ground, or a raised bed, or containers?


When do you plan to get started with your project?

  •  Ready to get planting now? It’s time to look for plants or supplies!
  • Not quite ready to start? Time to do some research on your plants, and learn some tips now to prepare for the garden when it’s time

When can you begin? 

  • Starting in winter or early spring? You have time to start some seeds if you want to try it
  • Spring? Greenhouses are full of plants ready to buy and transplant, and there are also some good seeds to start outside now (if frost has passed)
  • Summer? Some plants are OK with starting now, and giving you something tasty to eat by late fall
  • Fall? You could put some cold-hardy seeds in the ground now to wait for spring, or consider starting an indoor herb garden

When can you get the supplies and tools you might need?

  • Maybe it’s time for a birthday or Christmas wish list?
  • Maybe you have some allowance funds saved up?
  • Maybe your family has some supplies already available? You could even ask around to extended family, neighbors or friends; you never know who might have an extra bag of potting soil or some empty plant pots they’ll willing to donate to your project

When is the best time to start your gardening adventure?

  • Anytime you can!



Who do you have to help you with your garden? 

Some projects and activities will need the help of an adult, and having an “OK” from your parents is needed, too. Starting a garden project with the whole family is a great idea, too! Older siblings can help you through harder things, and younger siblings can learn, watch, and even help out in little ways, too.

Do you have a neighbor or friend who would enjoy helping out?

Would you grandparents be interested in helping, too?

Yes, you can start and manage a garden space on your own, but it can be even more fun when as a team effort!




Getting Started

Tips for Success

You can start small:

  • Choose just one or two, or a few, plants to get started
  • Focus on learning how to grow those specific plants.


Don’t let failure stop you from trying again.

  • Every gardener has plants that wilt and die. This could be from pests, diseases, forgetting to water them, or sometimes you can’t even say for sure why they didn’t thrive.
  • Learn from the experience what you can, and then move ahead to focus on your next plant.

Start with something simple, such as:

  • Start with a purchased potted plant, like an herb (basil, oregano, mint) or greenhouse-grown vegetable (tomato or bell pepper)
  • Start with seeds that are easier to grow:
    • Beans – sprout quickly, grow quickly, fun to watch
    • Squash- also sprout quickly, and grow fairly well if given compost and space (good for an outdoor start)
    • Basil – sprouts quickly, easily grown in a container


Set a schedule for plant care.

  • Seeds will need daily watering (maybe every day right after school?), while potted plants may want water every couple days to one week.
  • Outdoor gardens may give you a break if it rains, but plants out in the sun and wind may dry out more quickly.
  • Try to make it a habit to check on and water your plants consistently.


Tools of the Trade

Whether starting small or large, there are a few tools that will come in handy for any gardener.

For small or large projects, a good, comfortable pair of garden gloves helps a lot. We recommend these especially for when you’re using tools, digging in dirt, working with potting soil, pulling weeds, or using compost or mulch. Thicker gloves with leather or goatskin will offer even more protection when you might encounter thorny and spiky plants, too.

Starting small?

Hand tools, like small trowels and a small hand rake, will help prepare, move and dig into the dirt for your plants.



Starting large?

Spades (shown above) help dig and move large amounts of dirt

Flat shovels help level ground and move away layers of dirt

A garden rake (above) helps scratch up the surface of the soil as you get the ground ready for seeds or plants