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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What Every New Gardener Needs

There are going to be a lot of new gardeners this spring, eager to grow a few vegetables and hopefully some flowers. These new gardeners might be trying to save money by growing a bit of food or they may just be hoping to lift their spirits by having some fresh flowers to enjoy. I read it online, it must be true!

To help out these new gardeners, this old, as in experienced, gardener would like to reveal to them the main thing they need to be successful in their garden.

So, new gardeners, gather 'round and let me tell you what’ll need as you head out to plant your first garden.

Of course, you’ll need a place to plant, preferably with some sun, some plants and maybe some seeds, and a source of water. You can pick up any basic gardening book and figure that much out. Though, if you had to get a gardening book to figure that much out, maybe you should just ask your neighbor to plant a little extra in their garden for you and just offer to help them for awhile?

You’ll also see a lot of dazzling gardening tools in the stores, and you might think you need all of those to garden. You don’t. You can get by with a good trowel, if you are going to just plant in containers. Or, if you are going to actually garden in the ground, you should invest in a trio of tools… one shovel, one rake, and of course, one hoe, plus the trowel.

Eventually, you’ll also want a pair of pruners and while you are getting those, pick up a good pair of work gloves to wear. But skip the specialty gardening clothes. You don’t need specialty gardening clothes. Your old clothes will do just fine. Oh, and wear a hat in the sun and put on some sunscreen, too.

Once you have these basics, there is one other thing you should have to be successful at gardening. Fortunately everyone can get it, and it’s free. And you’ll be surprised at how it will improve your gardening when you have it.

If you are thinking compost at this point, well, it is true that compost helps you be successful with gardening by enriching the soil, and everyone can compost for free. But that’s not it.

What every new gardener needs, that old, as in experienced, gardeners have is…

Confidence.

Yes, just watch an old, as in experienced, gardener and you’ll find that they move confidently about the garden. They are deliberate, not tentative. They plant, rake, prune, and sow seeds as though they know what they are doing, even if they don’t. They make mistakes, too, but they learn from them and plant on.

Old, as in experienced, gardeners know that often plants grow in spite of the neglect of the gardener, and sometimes plants die in spite of the great care of the gardener. But that doesn’t stop the old, as in experienced, gardeners from learning, trying, and figuring out what works for them in their gardens.

They have confidence that there will be some failures, some lessons to be learned along the way, and every day will bring new challenges.

They also have confidence that there will be successes, new knowledge gained, and any day in the garden, they can find something new... a newly opened flower, a vegetable ripe for harvesting, or perhaps just the quiet satisfaction of being surrounded by their own garden.

Confidence, that’s what every new gardener needs, says this, old, as in experienced, gardener.

31 comments:

Cindy, My Corner of Katy said...

Sometimes even we old, as in experienced, gardeners need to be reminded that a positive attitude can make a big difference!

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

Good advice! I follow the philosophy that you're not a real gardener unless you've killed some plants. New gardeners shouldn't be afraid to kill things. It's not a moral failing. And then they should try growing that plant again in a different location.

Jill-O said...

The fun of gardening is learning new things; trying different and new plants,and seeing what I can make work and what doesn't work. Kind of like a giant, ongoing science experiment.

Kerri said...

Makes me think of Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music (one of my favorite movies). :)
"I have confidence in sunshine
I have confidence in rain
I have confidence that spring will come again
Besides which you see I have confidence in me!"
Great advise for the new gardener, Carol..in fact, for all of us!

Carol said...

Kerri... me, too! I almost posted a YouTube of that video. Hey, I might go back and add it now!

Kathy said...

Confidence. It kind of sneaks up on you. But it's what separates the old, as in experienced gardeners from the gardeners that are, well, just plain old. Need experience to gain confidence.

Iris said...

LOVED this post, Carol. Thank you! I was just wondering if I was being foolish to try to sprout onion and tomato seedlings inside now in little paper cups in various windowsills.

But I realize it doesn't really matter if they work or not for now. I'll learn something no matter what.

Its ME said...

Water and sunshine is a source of life for flower and trees.
We are just like tree and flower, it is true at Healthy Wealth http://theinnozablog.blogspot.com

The Sound of Music

trishia said...

I am one of those young, new gardeners you're speaking of. I decided this spring I'll be gardening now that we live out in the country and have a fabulously large yard. I guess I'm on the right track, because my list is getting longer by the day. Will all my plants grow? maybe not. but some surely will! And there is a side strip of land that we don't do anything with, about 20 feet long and 4 feet wide- its getting covered in wild flower seeds! I can't wait. Your blog brings much information and joy- thank you, thank you. :)

Nancy said...

Here's to getting older (more experienced) every day!

Kristine said...

awesome, it is so inspiring, as the snow/rain falls, but it is still winter here in upstate new york!

perennialgardener said...

Sage advice today! :)

DirtDigger (Tessa) said...

Words from the wise, that's what I say! Great post Carol!

Leslie said...

I love it...all the old gardeners raking, planting etc. like they know what they're doing even if they don't. That is so true...at some point you realize it's better to just go for it and see what happens.

Diana said...

Carol -- So true, so true. As an old, as in, experienced, gardener, I always say, "I am NOT in charge!"

Gardeness said...

Sweet post Carol. Gardening is a great confidence booster, so it's cyclical.

EB said...

I think I'd put it slightly differently, and call it motivation. That's what's mattered most for me anyway. You can make all sorts of mistakes, cope with any kind of shortcoming or lack, if you have enough motivation to keep going. I think confidence comes later, but motivation is a key from the start. I suspect this could just be splitting hairs though!

donna said...

This is a great post and gives me confidence to grow a pumpkin plant in a container come spring. I enjoy moving my perennials around the yard. Sometimes it works and sometimes not. That's part of the fun.

Dee/reddirtramblings said...

Carol,

I completely agree. You must be an old, as in experienced, gardener. :) New gardeners don't buy the fancy clothes. You'll get them dirty.~~Dee

Daphne said...

Confidence hmm? I think sometimes it is blind optimism. I'll plant something that hasn't worked in my garden in the past and still expect it to work this time if I just do it a little differently. Such stubbornness does pay off on occasion and sometimes I just keep trying and failing.

Darla said...

Trial and error that's my way! Good post.

HappyMouffetard said...

Great post. I struggle somewhere between confidence and foolhardiness.

Pat Leuchtman said...

Great post. I agree that confidence is essential, and I sometimes call it VISUALIZATION. I visualize the seeds germinating, growing and doing what they are supposed to do. Of course, sometimes they don't and that's when I remember that there are many mysteries in the garden.

catherinecarey said...

Amazing post! Wonderful writing. Excellent tips for new gardeners, expecially confidence.

Here in Baltimore, MD we're dreaming and scheming our gardens in February. Your thoughts and the video clip are exactly what we need.

I've linked to your post. catherinecarey.wordpress.com

Kat Wolfdancer said...

AH Wonderous thing is Validation!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cbk980jV7Ao

Plus, you'll need at least two good hoes...

>^,,^<

healingmagichands said...

Carol, you are so right! Positive statements and beliefs and actions tend to move the outcome towards favorable. That is why Jim and I made the new garden beds at the Havens. We believe that we'll be able to find the wherewithal to put perennials in them.

Rose said...

Thanks for the advice, Carol! After several years of gardening, I am just now beginning to develop some confidence about what I am doing. Reading blogs has been a great confidence-builder: I realize now that even experienced gardeners make mistakes! I am taking the philosophy that each mistake I make teaches me something new:)

Jan said...

Carol, you are so right about confidence. I am helping my daughter with her garden, and sometimes, it seems as if she's afraid she will start WWIII, if she does one little thing wrong. It is so hard to convince her that she can do this.

Jan
Always Growing

Amber said...

Just found your blog via a link from heirloom gardener. I added a bloom pic (a crocus!) and wanted to say I enjoyed your post here. I have gardened in the past but am returning to it this spring with more motivation and a need to succeed and provide my family with good, healthy, cost-effective foods!

Town Mouse said...

As they say, good gardeners bury their mistakes... I find that beginning gardeners get discouraged if some things don't work out. They're not supposed to. Having some failures makes the successes twice as sweet!
For example, I grew tomatoes in pots 2 years ago and harvested 3 small tomatoes. Now I grow succulents in those puts and buy, do I enjoy them!

Cynthia said...

I'm a new gardener myself I started my herbs this year in pots, and I also planted some other seeds for instance cucumber, tomato, beans, and peppers inside, hopefully to move the tomato and cucumbers outside after the last frost. I like your post and I like the little touch of the video!!