Start a Garden: Tips for Beginners

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Can anyone start a garden?

Starting a garden can feel like an impossible task, especially if you don’t have experience with plants. You might want to grow something but worry you “don’t have a green thumb” or don’t have the right space.

The good news is that there is no one way to garden. Whether you have 10 acres, a balcony, or a windowsill, you can start a garden that fits your space. There are even people who live in RVs or renovated trucks who have mobile gardens that travel with them! Don’t let your space limit your gardening potential. Read more about small space gardening.

When it comes to starting your garden, you have to ask yourself: “What is my goal?” Are you starting your garden to become more food sufficient, especially as grocery store prices soar? Are you tired of buying cut herbs in plastic packaging, and want to snip something fresh to flavor your food? Or do you want to connect with life and have more access to nature because you know that plants are good for our well-being?

Think about what you want to get out of your garden, and don’t worry – it’s okay if you change your mind along the way. Setting this intention helps you prioritize what kind of plants or seeds you will get, what tools you will need, what your time commitment will need to be. Yes, there are limitations like, the size of your space, how much access to light you have, and where in the world you are, but I am confident you will be able to find a way to make it work! And remember – don’t give up if you are not successful the first time around! 

My Plant Journey

Would you believe that I got into gardening after killing nine houseplants? They were housewarming gifts I got when I moved into my first house. I put them all over the house and within weeks, over half were gone. I was devastated! But, I decided to do research and learn how to keep the rest alive.

This led to me to buy as many discount & dying plants as I could, and I did what I could to nurture them back to health. In this process of experimenting and learning, my plants began to grow, and so did I. 

When I started my indoor garden, it was because a friend gave me some special houseplants. When I started my outdoor garden, it was because I wanted to learn how to take care of plants. 

People often tell me I have a green thumb, and I like to say that I’ve had a lot of practice! 

Since those early years, I’ve expanded my garden with all sorts of plants; fragrant herbs, tasty tomatoes, nectarine trees, and more. I didn’t have a plan when I started other than wanting to learn, and I’ve adapted my approach over the years as my goals changed. 

I encourage you to take a leaf out of my book (and I actually did write a book about it!). Be open minded, be open to learning, and don’t expect to achieve your gardening dreams right away. Focus on learning, having fun, and adjusting as need be. You’ll enjoy the process more.

These pictures show my garden before I started gardening (2015) and six years after (2021)

Getting To Work

Regardless of what kind of garden you’re starting (kitchen garden, healing garden, pollinator garden, etc) I suggest you get a journal to keep record of what you learn. Write down what you notice, when something works, when something fails, and thoughts on what you should do in the future. My plant journal was integral to my self-guided education, and I’m grateful for the knowledge I put onto the pages. 

Now, pick your plant(s). My recommendation is don’t rush to fill your space if you’re just starting out. I also think that it’s easier to start with live plants instead of seeds. When we get the hang of live plants and build our confidence, we can move onto seeds, but let’s stick with plants for the time being. You can find live plants at nurseries and box stores. 

Are you planting in the ground, a raised bed, or a planter? What kind of soil do you need? How much light and water do you need? These are questions to ask yourself. If you need help, I suggest talking to the staff at the plant store, as they should be able to point you in the right direction. 

You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on supplies and tools in order to be a successful gardener. Do you have an old bucket? That can be a planter. I started my garden by repurposing things I had around my house. I suggest getting yourself a watering can because it will help you have control over where the water goes, gardening gloves to protect your hands, and a shovel, but beyond that, I encourage you to use your creativity when you start out. You might be surprised to find how much you can do with what you have! The creative possibilities are endless, and demonstrated in this article.

In this video, I turned a trash can into a planter:

My Top Tips:

There are three things to keep in mind as you go forward: Practice, patience, and persistence. As I shared previously, you might not achieve your plant goals right away, and if you give up, you’ll never reach them. Take notes so you can keep practicing, and as you practice, be sure to apply patience and persistence. Give your plants time to grow and yourself time to learn. Keep trying, and reach out to your community for guidance if you’re stuck. 

This process of practicing with patience and persistence can be applied to anything in life, and if you use this process, I know you will be successful. 

Additional Resources

Are you ready to start your garden? I have some resources for you to check out. 

1. For seeds, check out Ferry-Morse

2. I’ve linked products I use in my Amazon Storefront (disclaimer: I do get commission from purchases made through my store, but I have only tagged products that I use and like)

3. To grow alongside your plant, read my book: “How to Grow: Nurture Your Garden, Nurture Yourself


Starting a garden is one of the best things a person can do. Caring for plants brings joy, and reminds us of the importance of practice, patience, and persistence. The food we grow enriches our diet, and the herbs we grow bring sweet smells and tastes for us to enjoy. 

Now that I’ve been gardening for nine years, I can’t imagine myself without plants to tend to. I like to say: I take care of my plants, and they take care of me!

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