4 Things the Reluctant, First-Time Gardener Should Know

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Post by Contributing Writer, Holly

Some want to start a garden, but are hesitant … reluctant … fearful of what they don’t know that might cause them to FAIL.

If you identify with that statement, my hope is that after reading this post, you’ll be encouraged, motivated, confident, and EXCITED about starting your first garden!!!

Experienced, green-thumb gardeners, try to recall your first garden. Is there any advice, a nugget of wisdom, you can share with these reluctant gardeners?

Reluctant gardeners, let’s get started! :)

1. Don’t be afraid of failing.

I’m not saying embrace failure, but don’t be afraid of it. It’s not a scary monster.

I LOVE to hear about people who became greatly successful, only AFTER traveling down a rocky road full of failures.

Did you know 27 publishers rejected Dr. Seuss’ (real name Ted Geisel) first children’s book, before a former college classmate (in the children’s book industry) purchased it? Can you imagine the world without Dr. Seuss?

I guarantee, if you’re too afraid to start a garden, for fear of failure, you’ll never experience the joy of a flourishing garden. I imagine most successful gardeners became successful because of the following:

  1. What they learned from others, and/or
  2. What they learned from failed attempts.

Sometimes we learn more from failure than success, and it’s the lessons we take away that equip us, by God’s grace, to succeed in our second (or third, or fourth, or twenty-eighth) attempt.

Can you tell I’m passionate about this point? 😉

Okay, enough on that. Let’s move on to the next point.

2. Read, and follow, the seed packet instructions.

My first try at planting a garden from seeds was not a very encouraging experience.

I planted all kinds of seeds:

  • onion (2 types),
  • lettuce (2 types),
  • carrot (2 or 3 types),
  • green pepper,
  • oregano,
  • cucumber,
  • watermelon,
  • corn,
  • and more.

The ONLY seeds that germinated were the large seeds (cucumber, watermelon, corn, etc.). The teeny, tiny seeds never saw the light of day. In addition to the poor, hard soil, I think I planted them too deep.

Read, and follow, the seed packet instructions.

3. Take a little time to improve your soil.

The large seeds that germinated lived for quite awhile; however, the plants never reached maturity. It was a very dry summer, and the soil was horrendous. I laugh now. Those poor seeds didn’t have much of a chance.

There’s a lot that can be said about improving soil, but let’s keep it simple. Baby steps.

Since this post is geared to those who have never planted a seed, seedling, or plant, I’m going to keep this simple and unintimidating.

You’ll need, among other tools, a spade shovel, wheelbarrow, and good gloves.

There’s probably some ratio for all this, but I usually just dump, mix, and work it into the soil.

For every 4 foot x 4 foot garden area, to a depth of 8-12 inches, add the following:

  • (3) cubic feet of composted cow manure
  • (2) cubic feet of perlite
  • (2) cubic feet of organic topsoil

Dump all of this into a wheelbarrow (what will fit), along with some of your existing dirt. With your shovel, mix it all together. (Pour and mix the perlite slowly, until it’s mixed in well. It creates a lot of perlite “dust.”)

Shovel the mixture onto your future garden ground, and mix into the existing soil.

You’ll end up with a raised bed. If you don’t plan on boxing it in, you can move some of the mixed dirt to another area, use it in your container gardens, etc.

If your soil has never been cared for, this will significantly improve it. Eventually, you can start adding your own compost, but don’t take on so much that you feel overwhelmed.

4. Plant small plants, not just seeds.

Doing this gives you a better chance for success. If your seeds struggle a bit, your young plants may still do well.

Was this helpful? What have you learned over the years that you wish you had known when you first started gardening?

Holly is a wife to her loving husband, John, and a “mother” of 3 canine “children.” She loves sharing her faith, gardening, and fascination and appreciation of animals (birds, bats, butterflies, and the cute furry ones too) over at Your Gardening Friend.

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2 comments to 4 Things the Reluctant, First-Time Gardener Should Know

  • Amber

    I definitely agree with #4. I’ve tried planting seeds and bulbs, but they never took. The small plants, on the other hand, all did very well. :)


  • Trellowyn

    I second planting seedlings for the less hardy types. Also, plant a bit more than you need. Weather takes it’s toll on some of them, the critters and insects will take their share as well, leaving you with just enough for you and your neighbors. (And there will always be too much squash and cucumbers.) 😉


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