6 Things All New Gardeners Should Know

This article was written by Steven Bender and first appeared on Southern Living Young people today are afraid of gardening. They say it’s “hard,” “mystifying,” and “intimidating.” They don’t know where to begin and they’re terrified of making a mistake. To those who shrink in fear at the prospect of tearing open a seed packet lest they suffer a paper cut, let Grumpy comfort you. Master these six basic principles and gardening will become as second-nature as texting or asking your parents for money.

Principle #1 Some plants don’t need soil, but all garden plants need sunlight and water. They need varying amounts of both, but no plant will live for long in a dark room and parched soil. If you cannot supply both light and water, hang pictures of plants or buy plastic ones.

Principle #2 Start with good soil and 90% of your work is already done. Good soil is loose, drains well, and contains plenty of organic matter, such as composted manure, ground bark, chopped leaves, pine straw, and grass clippings. Add lots of organic matter to your outdoor garden beds every year to improve fertility, loosen clay, and attract earthworms, the gardener’s best friends. When planting containers, however, always use named brand potting soil, never bagged topsoil or soil from the garden. The latter are too heavy and dense for pots...