Gardening: Starting a New Garden for a New Year

Cary, NC – With a new year comes new changes and maybe you want to get into gardening. For beginner gardeners, here are our tips on how to start and what plants to use.


Getting Started

For some people, gardening is a relaxing way to get outside to occupy yourself with a colorful plant. For others, it can be productive and get you vegetables cheaply. Some even see planting a garden as a way to boost the necessary pollinator species we need to survive on Earth.

If you have never done gardening before, it’s good to know what kind of garden you want. You can mix flowers and vegetables and herbs but especially if you are a new gardener, it’s easier to focus on one thing. Your garden’s location and soil will also change based on what you want to plant there.

Before you even pick out your plants, settle your spot. Determine how much sunlight the vegetation you want to plant will need and pick your spot based on that. Then, clear the top of the ground with the grass on it, dig out space for around three inches of compost and mix in organic material. Leave it alone for a month or so to let this all seep in together, which can also give you more time to figure out what plants you want. Keep in mind, do not start digging if your soil is very wet or very dry. If this is the case, layer three to five sheets of newspaper down and put the compost on top and wait months for it all to break down naturally.

While this is going on, get in the habit of collecting mulch. This can be any organic material that you put in to cover the soil and prevent weeds from getting their roots in. This can be pinecones, pine needles, bark, what have you.

Good Plants for Beginners

When you know exactly what you want your garden to hold, you can research on your own to get the best advice, as each plant has its own temperature, water, sunlight and soil needs. But as a good starting point, we have some picks.

If you want a vegetable garden, lettuce is very easy to grow. Lettuce is so easy to grow, you can even do it indoors, though new gardeners should probably start outside. Also, lettuce has a lot of applications, from a complex meal to chopping it up for a salad to stuffing it into a sandwich.

Some other easy vegetables and fruit to grow include tomatoes, and especially cherry tomatoes. With many varieties of tomatoes out there, make sure you look up the details for the specific kind you buy for your garden because they are each a little bit different. Also, cucumbers are easy to grow provided you have lots of sun and can keep them moist.

If you want a flower garden, you will have to decide between annuals and perennials. A perennial is the easier of the two as they grow back each season, although the annual flowers sunflowers and marigolds are very easy to grow and maintain.

Some good starter perennials include black-eyed Susans and varieties of sage, such as Russian sage. Keep in mind: you can eat some varieties of sage but Russian sage is not edible. Black-eyed Susans require a lot of sunlight and loose, well-drained, moist soil.

Finally, if you still want to grow a plant but do not have space outdoors to grow, get a snake plant. These are incredibly easy to grow in a pot and will still bring life and color to your home or room.


Black-eyed Susans

Story by staff reports. Photos by Hal Goodtree, Christine and Hagen Graf and Shelby L. Bell. The Gardening Column is sponsored by Garden Supply Company on Old Apex Road in Cary.