Welcome to Ask Avery! I'm Avery, and I'm hear to listen and help with anything and everything! Please feel free to write to me at AskAvery@pietrap.com and perhaps you'll be featured in my next article.
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Dear Avery, I've always wanted to get into gardening, but I have no idea how. I'm worried I'll just end up killing all my plants. Do you have any advice for beginners? Sincerely, Potential Plant Killer
Hello again, everyone,
This column is part two (part one) of my series on how to start a garden. It's in response to PPK's question. Hope you're hanging in there, Potential!
Choosing what to grow:
Here is my golden rule when it comes to veggie gardens: If you (or your family) won’t eat it, don’t grow it. Plain and simple. I have wasted so much time and effort on growing things like kale or radishes that I ended up giving away. Occasionally I will try out a new veggie that isn’t one of my usuals, but I only allocate one space for it. Choose plants that do well in the Zone or climate where you live. For example, if you live in a very warm, humid area, spinach and broccoli will be more difficult to grow than tomatoes and peppers.
You can look up your own zone map using USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map
Seeds vs Starts or Both?
So you’ve decided what you want to grow, as well as the location and method you want to use. Now it’s time to decide between seeds or starts. Growing from a seed is the most cost effective way to have a veggie garden, but it is also the most time intensive. Typically, you would start seeds indoors in small cells. The process can start weeks or even months before transplanting them into your garden. This method takes space, a sunny area, and regular watering. There is also a short period of tempering the plants to get used to the external environment. Later in the growing season, you can directly sow the seeds into your garden.
With Starts, all that work is done for you by a professional grower. Starts will be more expensive, but usually have a lower failure rate. This might be a good option for people like Potential Plant Killer, who are afraid of their plants ending up dead when they're just starting out. In my experience, there are some types of veggies that just do better when grown from starts and not from seed. Things like tomatoes and strawberries do better with starts, whereas greens like lettuce and spinach, carrots and beans do great from seed! I do hope that this will encourage you to try again, dearest PPK! Would love to hear an update on how things are going later in spring, and please keep in touch. If you need any other advice, you and everyone else is welcome to reach out.