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Learning Tips for the Novice Gardener

April 30 2010

Looking for a way to infuse some color and life into your new home?  As a novice homeowner, you may find doing your own gardening is a great alternative to hiring expensive landscapers. Gardening can yield a lot of fruit – real fruit and vegetables, that is.

But what if you don’t know how to garden? If this is your first home and you don’t even know where to begin you will want to consult some experts, take a class or two and invest in some of the more necessary tools.

Start with your interests. What would you like to grow – flowers or foods? Read about your area’s climate so you’ll know what your soil and weather will bear. 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.  Dr. Bob Randal reminds gardeners that “learning to garden is a lot like becoming literate.” As he told the Houston Chronicle, don’t worry if you weren’t born with a green thumb. To reach your potential, spend time getting your hands dirty –it’s a must.

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.

Think about what you can do, and not about your limitations. You don’t have to have a lot of 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.

And tools don’t have to break the bank; a $5 spade will work to get you started.

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.