Want to start a garden but have no idea where to start? You’re not alone. It seems easy enough at first. Then once you have your bags of soil, seedings, and a trowel in hand, the panic sets in. The good news is Dominique Charles, the gardening expert behind Plots & Pans, is here to help.
Charles offers in-person and virtual consultations where she teaches people how to build the garden of their dreams. Whether you’re working with a small container garden or a big plot in your backyard, here are her top gardening tips for beginners that will help kickstart your journey.
6 Gardening Tips for Beginners
1. Be Prepared
Like a good Girl Scout, the motto of any good gardener is to “be prepared.” That means to equip yourself with all the staples needed for gardening.
“My favorite gardening tools and supplies to start a garden would be a shovel, great gloves, good quality soil and compost, and an easily-accessible water source,” says Charles. “Watering from a watering can is cute, but not necessarily the most efficient (depending on the size and location of your garden).”
2. Take the Shortcut
You might have killed the last three houseplants gifted to you by your well-meaning relatives, but Charles says not to worry. There are other ways to keep your plant alive, and one of the best gardening tips for beginners is simply buying options that are easier to take care of.
“I find that leafy greens—like collards, kale, and lettuce—are pretty low-maintenance plants,” she says. “Other low-maintenance plants that are great for new gardeners are green beans (my favorite), okra, hot and bell peppers, and even sweet potatoes.”
3. Do Your Research
So you’ve got your tools and your seeds. What now? Because weather patterns vary across different regions—and even different areas of land in your backyard—it’s crucial to plan based on your particular circumstances. That’s where doing the proper research comes in.
“A best practice is to check the Old Farmer’s Almanac for the date of the last frost in your region,” Charles says. “Once you find that projected date, I think it’s fair to start within a month following.”
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4. Plant What You Love
Gardening gets overwhelming sometimes—particularly when you want to fulfill all your Hay Day dreams and plant everything you can get your hands on. But for new gardeners, moderation—and enjoyment—is key.
“I suggest new gardeners think about what they actually enjoy and buy from the market regularly, and grow a variety of that plant,” says Charles. “That way, as the gardening season goes on, you have something you love to look forward to.”
5. Set a Watering Schedule
Schedules work miracles—especially in the garden. “Whether a gardener is a novice or a pro, being consistent at your watering and care will be a major factor in your gardening success,” says Charles. A great gardening tip for beginners is incorporating watering into your daily routine. You could even set an alarm to remind you.
“Ideally, you want to water your garden before the sun fully rises and the water is absorbed by the peak sunlight,” she says. “Additionally, a watering schedule aids in consistency for watering. Inconsistent watering is typically the cause of things like cracked tomatoes or blossom rot.”
6. Try New Things
Like most hobbies, gardening is something benefits from lots of practice. Because of the uniqueness of your soil composition, weather patterns, and other variables, figure out what works best for you. “I started plants from seeds one winter and they all died when I tried to transition them,” Charles says. To her, that’s what gardening is: “Lots of trial and error with wonderful rewards when you get it right.”
All in all, “gardeners want to see everyone grow—pun intended,” Charles says. For more gardening tips for beginners, there are a few informative and helpful Instagram accounts she recommends visiting: Black Girls With Gardens, TamInTheGarden, and her own Plots & Pans. Armed with these resources, you’ll have a green thumb in no time.