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Tips for the Novice Gardener

As a new homeowner, you may not know much about gardening, but now you have this lovely yard where you can grow whatever you like. You can make a beautiful garden that yields a lot of fruit and vegetables or offers the beauty of flowers and greenery.

So how do you begin? Start with your interests. What would you like to grow – flowers in the front and food in the backyard? Where do you want to locate your garden? Are there homes with great gardens that you can use for ideas? Can you save ideas on

You can read about your area’s climate so you’ll know what your soil and weather will bear. Consult some local experts about what grows best in your area, when to plant, and where to plant items for sun or shade. You can take a class or two and invest in some of the more necessary tools. Learn basic terms so you’ll know what pruning, bare root, container grown, or loose sandy loam soil mean if they come up in conversation or class.

Next, follow your nose to a friend or neighbor in your community who has a garden like the one you would like to tend. You’ll find that enthusiastic gardeners love talking about their work and sharing their secrets and tips. Ask for basic advice on how you can get started.

Offer to help your friend or neighbor tend his or her garden for hands-on experience. Don’t worry if you weren’t born with a green thumb because your friend will teach you what to do. And tools don’t have to break the bank; a $5 spade will work to get you started.

Classes are often available from your local nursery, schools and community colleges, and community centers. You just need to ask or look around your area for more information on upcoming events. Horticulture can be very specific – if you’re interested in growing vegetables, take a class on vegetables; if you want to know about flowers, go to a perennial and annual class.

You can also join a local gardening club, coop or service league that operates a garden for public use, or volunteer for a neighborhood clean-up drive that includes replacing and tending public green spaces. Put out the word that you’re interested, and you’ll be rewarded with opportunity.

One thing that you should know about gardeners and gardening. They don’t mind giving free advice, but few like to loan their tools. If you do ask to borrow tools, return them promptly and buy your own tools as soon as you can.

Think about what you can do, and not about your limitations. You don’t have to have a lot of time or space to try your hand at gardening. You can grow tomatoes in a container just as well as you can grow a patch of pumpkins in a field. You can grow herbs on your windowsill.