Gardening Newbie: Where do I start

By JM Davis



Hello, I’m Janet Davis and welcome to Food Plus Freedom Podcast. Today is March 12th, 2024 Episode 24. Gardening Newbie: Where do I start? I’ll give you six steps plus a bonus. Plus, a bonus number seven so you can get started growing today. 

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Episode 24. Gardening Newbie: Where do I start?

Everyone who gardens starts somewhere. Even if you have gardened with someone or watched someone garden in the past, you’re still in the state of ” Were do I start” when it becomes your time to garden in your own space, in your own time. 

You probably feel overwhelmed, under informed, and garden broke. Broke for what you should do first, second, third, etc. And how much money is it going to cost you to start your garden? After all, if you failed, you not only lose time and money, you lose food too. And the thought that maybe it would be just better to put your garden cash towards food. Get that idea out of your head right now! Gardening gives you freedom, more control, and more freedom. You just have to learn how to do it and do it well. 

Freedom and control over what you eat, how it is grown, and how much you grow. Sure, you might end up having a bumper crop or a dud crop , but you have control over healthy clean food.

So where do you start? You’re going to need to do some research on what type of gardening you want to do. As you’re researching different infrastructures, seeds, ways of gardening, what they are doing, and what makes sense for you. And then just go for it. 

Here are six things to think about to help you catapult your gardening want to – to having food. 

  1. Decide what type of garden you want for infrastructure. I am talking about soil growing, not aquaponic or hydroponic, which are also options to look into if you want to go that route.

For instance, do you want a container garden on your porch or in your yard? Do you want to use raised beds in your garden? Or do you want to an in ground square food garden? There are many other types of gardens for infrastructure and methods, such as lasagna gardening or the Ruth Stout Method. This is where you layer the ground green and brown manure and plant in it. There is the Garden of Eden method, where you place down thick card board or lots of layers of newspapers and then add a few feet of soil on top. This is to prevent weeds. You could get ink and glue in your soil. But nothing is going to be perfect. 

You could do a till method where you rota til the garden area, let it sit for a few days so the weeds and grass die, then you add mulch rota till again, then add mulch and plant. There are no till methods as well. Which means not roto tilling. There are so many options on how you want to grow and your infrastructure for growing, it’s not funny. When you start growing can also determine which method you choose. For instance, the Ruth Stout method should be done the fall before, so the area has a full season to break down before planting. 

The one thing I want to impress upon you is you want an organic garden, which means any soil you bringing in must be organic. Meaning the farm never sprayed chemicals or fed gmo anything. You can get soil by the bag or go to an organic farm. The best option I think is to go to the organic farm because you can talk to them and they are local. Or dig right where you are.

If you have grass and weeds growing, you have soil that can maintain food. The issue people have is they don’t want weeds, which is understandable. This has its pros and cons.

I personally, don’t like pulling weeds who does? But we have found some very good medicinal plants that just appear in our garden and we are pleased. You don’t want the weeds to choke out your food. But if good edible weeds show up like dandelions, you want them to be able to grow. 

  1. Once you’ve decided what kind of infrastructure or how you’re going to grow your garden, you need to decide where you’re going to grow.` Where you’re growing may determine how much of certain types of food, you can actually grow. Remember you can always grow vertically or up if you need to. In fact I advice this so you use less space and gain more food per space. Plus less space of gardening also means less work. 

Now you know what infrastructure you need and where you’re going to grow your garden. Now it’s time to figure out what you’re going to grow. But always make sure you start with organic, open pollinated, heritage and now they have a new term OG for original and stay away from hybrids. 

  1. Plant Perennials plants first. Perennial plants come back year after year from the same rootstock. Most likely you’ll purchase these as shrubs or trees, but you can start from seeds and cuttings if you choose.
    Perennials examples are blueberries, asparagus, mint, and rhubarb, to name a few. Basically, all trees and shrubs. You want to get these plants into the ground as a soon as possible because they take time to establish. You may not get any food from them the first year, but you will. Decide what perennials you want and get them planted. Try to plant them where you think you want them to stay forever, but don’t waste so much time it doesn’t get done. It’s better to move a perennial later or work around them, then it is to not get them planted at all. 
  2. Decide what annuals you’re going to plant. Annual plants are plants you have to grow each year either by seed, starters, clones, or cuttings.Some people make the mistake of thinking they have a perennial plant because the plant comes back, like Mullein. The plant doesn’t actually come back, but puts out a seed either in the first year or the second year. It’s a biennial if it’s in the second year. And then that seed grows into a new plant. Make sure you’re using organic, open pollinated and heritage or OG seeds. Never use a genetically engineered seeds. Plus, stay away from hybrids or F1 seeds as well. Because someday you’re going to want to save seeds as well. 

  3. Decide if you’re going to start with seeds or starter plants. Seeds are cheaper and more work, but you have more options to get organic seeds. Starters are already ready to grow, but you must check to make sure they are organic. Look the companies up online to see how they grow. If they say fertilizer for three months of growth, be skeptical. What is in that soil so you don’t have to do anything? Also, most starter plants , not all, are hybrid and you don’t want hybrids because you’re going to want to learn how to seed save.

    Where can you find good seed companies? Online, of course. But it’s better if you ask your friends and family who are already growing from seeds. They will have their favorites. Make sure you look at the about page of a seed company so you’re helping like-minded people in their business venture. Plus, by going with a smaller seed company, one that is truly in the seed business to save old seeds and not just about the money, you can stay away from large companies that don’t carry your values. Plus, ask your friends and family who save seeds for some seeds so you can start your garden with saved seeds for your area. 
  4. Start small and choose food you use. You can choose a nice variety of different plants and still be small. Choose from fruits, vegetables, and herbs you use and eat every day. Choose food you like eating straight from the garden, creating immediate satisfaction. Like tomatoes, edible peas, cucumbers, mint, etc. Choose herbs you can pick and cook or use immediately like cilantro, basil, yarrow, oregano, etc.

When you’re first starting out, don’t aim for storage and canning everything. Aim for eating food fresh and to have a little bit more. If your goal is to store some food, pick one or two items you like and grow a little bit extra. Like green beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, peas,etc. You’ll be amazed at how much you can grow off just a few extra plants. Instead of growing 100 tomato plants for all your tomato needs. Plant two tomato plants that are for eating right away and two tomato plants you plan to can off of. Then you have immediate tomatoes and tomatoes for storing and you won’t get overwhelmed. 

Bonus 7) You can always do succession planting, which is planting multiple crops of either the same food or different in the same area of the garden. As one crop finishes up, you plant more. We do this with lettuce and spinach. We plant two weeks apart, then reuse the same area again as the food is harvested. We do this with garlic. Garlic is finished in July and then we plant something else for another crop we get later in the season.

Remember, gardening is a marathon, not a sprint. You go bit by bit, learning along the way. If one seeds doesn’t work, then try others. If one method of gardening isn’t to your liking, try another one.

Remember, what works for someone else might not work for you and vice versus. 

Thank you for listening, this is Janet Davis from 
Hang tight for the tip of the day. 

Tip of the day growing food without officially growing a garden. 
Is it possible to grow food, without growing food? Sure, but it is a bit messy. All living things are created to be born, live, and procreate. This is true for every item in your garden. If you let tomatoes fall to the ground, some of the undisturbed seeds will grow the following year. Some plants like onions are biennials, which means every other year they send off shoots which become seeds. When these seeds fall to the ground, you get more onions. 

Not only can you let parts of your garden go to seed for more food, you can also throw seeds or fruit to the edge of the woods to see if you can get some guerrilla gardening going too. Hey, you never know. 

And now you know. 

Until next time. 

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