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2023 Beginner Gardeners Checklist: How To Start Your First Garden

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Are you thinking about starting a new garden for the first time? Congratulations! Gardening is a fun and rewarding hobby. 


But where do you start? Don’t worry, we’re here to help. Check out our beginner gardener’s checklist below. With this handy guide, you’ll be on your way to growing your very own garden in no time!

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First, Choose A Sunny Location

When choosing a sunny location for your garden, there are a few important factors to consider. First, the amount of sunlight reception in your chosen spot is key; make sure to choose one that gets at least six to eight hours of direct sun each day.


 Spend some time in your yard and keep track of the sun’s journey throughout the day to determine the best spot. Consider the size of your garden and how much space you need for different kinds of plants. Lastly, take into account any potential shade from trees or buildings that could affect your garden’s sunlight.

Refer to Your Growing Zone

Before you start planting, it is important to refer to your growing zone and your last frost dates. Weather is is early spring or early fall, each plant variety has an ideal temperature range and days to maturity. You want to align those days to maturity with the number of growing days you have in a season.



Most of the time,time, your basic growing information is on the back of the seed packet. To determine which plants will thrive in your area, the best way is to find out what US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Plant Hardiness Zone you live in.



You can do this by using the interactive USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map, which you can find online. You simply enter your zip code to get a detailed report on what plants are likely to succeed in your climate. Once you know which zone you live in, then you’re ready to start shopping for seeds and plants that will thrive in your part of the world.

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Decide What To Grow – Vegetables, Flowers, Herbs

The possibilities are endless when deciding what kind of garden you want to grow! Are you looking to cultivate delicious vegetables? If so, vegetable gardening is for you. Imagine the fresh produce you could have at your fingertips and the pleasure of eating something that’s been growing in your own backyard.

Or maybe, for a splash of color, try planting a flower garden! Growing everything from vibrant sunflowers to vibrant zinnias can seem like a dream come true for green thumbs. Don’t feel limited by having to pick one type of garden – combine vegetable and flower gardens together to create an aesthetically pleasing vegetable patch. If you need help to decide what vegetables do well next to each other, be sure to get a copy of the book Companion Planting for Beginners by Brian Lowell.


Having a flower garden next to your veggies is ideal because it attracts pollinators. To learn more on how to attract more pollinators to your property, check out Creating A Bee-Friendly Garden: 27 Essential Plants To Attract Pollinators!


 Whether it’s just a few containers on a patio, or an expansive vegetable plot lined with raised garden beds, get creative and let nature do its work!

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Annual Plants vs Perennial Plants

Whether you decided on planting vegetables, or flowers you need to be aware if they are annuals or perennials. When planning your garden, it’s important to know the difference between annual and perennials. Annuals are plants that grow and bloom during one season, while perennials come back year after year. 



Deciding which you want in your garden will depend on what look you’re going for and how much work you want to put into maintaining it. Annuals are a great option for those who want to keep their garden looking fresh and vibrant each year, while perennials can bring long-term beauty to your outdoor space. With careful planning, you can create the perfect mix of annual and perennial plants in your garden!

Start Your Own Seeds vs Transplant vs Direct Sow

When it comes to starting a garden, there are three main options: starting your own seeds, transplanting already-started seedlings, or direct sowing. Starting your own seeds is the most cost-effective and gives you the most control over how your plants will grow; however, it can be a time consuming process. Below are the three main ways to get your plants going. 

Start Seeds Indoors 

To start seeds indoor you will need: seed starting mix, seed trays or pots, a heat source (optional), labels and marker, light source (optional), watering can or spray bottle and garden scissors. If you have a space indoor near a sunny window that is warm you do not need to purchase lights or a heater. Check out our favorite garden planner Clydes Garden Planner on Amazon to give you tips on when you start your seeds indoors. 


Transplanting started seedlings is a great option if you don’t have the time or resources to start your own seeds, but it can be more expensive. 

Direct sowing

Direct is the simplest method and often times the best method; you simply sow your seeds right onto the soil and let nature take its course. This is an economical choice, but it has less control and success rate than the other two methods. All three approaches have their pros and cons, and the best option for you will depend on what type of gardener you are. 
Our biggest pro of buying your own seeds is that you have complete control of the varieties you can grow. Your are not limited to local stores.  You can shop for different varieties online, in catalogs or even through swap websites. Our absolute favorite place to buy seeds is Baker Creek Heriloom Seeds. Be sure to grab the seed catalog. 
No matter what approach you take to starting your garden, these tips will help you get off to a successful start!  
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Prepare Your Growing Area

Whether you decide to plant in-ground, raised bed, or in pots, the next step is to prepare your garden bed area accordingly. If you’re planting directly into the ground, make sure that it has been cleared of weeds and debris, while also ensuring that there are no roots from nearby trees or shrubs that could disrupt the growth of your plants. Planting in pots or raised beds is a pretty quick set up process. Just place them in a sunny location and fill with soil. 



When planting in ground, make sure that the soil has been loosened and aerated to allow for better root penetration. If you are planting in pots or raised beds, then it is important that they have adequate drainage holes and good-quality soil. To learn more about quality potting soil, check out our review on Happy Frog Potting Soil. 



It’s also a good idea to add some compost or some organic matter like a mulch to your garden bed after planting, as it helps to retain moisture in your soil. 

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Essential Gardening Tools for Vegetable Garden

Once you’ve figured out what kind of garden you want to grow, it’s time to purchase the necessary supplies. This includes seeds or seedlings (depending on which plants you choose), garden soil, and any tools that are needed such as trowels, hoes, garden hose, hand pruners, garden rake, garden fork, gardening gloves, raised garden beds or pots. If you are looking for raised garden bed inspiration, check out beds our guide to galvanized raised garden beds here.


To find out more about what tools you might need starting out, head over to our article, 16 Essential Gardening Tools for Beginners.


It also helps to have some supplies that can help you with the upkeep of your gardens, such as mulch, fertilizer, and pest control products. You can find these items at your local garden center or online. Having the right supplies on hand will ensure a successful and stress-free gardening experience!



Finally, don’t forget to keep records of your vegetable garden, such as a planting journal or plan. This is an essential step for tracking the progress of your plants and will help you with troubleshooting if any problems arise.

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Use Quality Soil and Compost

Growing your own plants can be satisfying and is a great way to connect to nature. For the best results and healthy plant roots, it’s important to use quality soil and compost. Combining potting soil with quality organic mulch and some compost in your chosen spot creates the ideal environment for your plants to thrive.

Don’t skimp on these first steps of creating the perfect vegetable garden—purchase soil, and mulch that are high quality so that your plants receive maximum nutrients. If you plan to start a garden on a budget, then investing in good soil is priority number one. If you want to know more about compost, check out our guide for Best Compost For Your Garden: Compost 101 And All Its Benefits.

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Sow Seed or Transplant Seedlings

Sowing seeds and transplanting seedlings can seem intimidating at first, but once you figure out the basics, it quickly becomes one of the most rewarding parts of gardening. 



By this step you are ready to plant your seeds or seedlings. You have checked your growing zone, you know when your average last frost date is, your garden bed is prepped and ready to go. Now follow the planting instruction on the back of the seed packet and sow or transplant your veggies. 


After doing so be sure to give them plenty of water – and an adjustable watering wand is a great tool for this!



With adjustable watering wands, you can easily modify the application and speed of water flow so your plants receive just the right amount. You do not want to spray water at a high volume and wash away your newly sowed seeds or transplants. It’s best to adjust the hose to a low setting an water in slowly. 


So don’t be intimidated – put some seeds or transplants in the ground and keep the soil moist.

Make a Fertilizing Schedule

Every gardener knows that fertilizing is essential for successful plants. This is especially true when it comes to vegetable gardens, where soil fertility can decline quickly if not managed carefully. For example, tomato plants are heavy feeders and do best when fertilized often.



To ensure you get the most out of your garden, creating a fertilizing schedule is key. Not only does this provide your vegetables with the nutrients they need, but it also helps you stay organized and on track with your garden maintenance. 


To make a fertilizing schedule, start by identifying what type of fertilizer is best for each vegetable and then determine how often it needs to be applied.



Once you have this schedule established, make sure to stick to it throughout the growing season in order to maximize your harvest! With the right schedule in place, your vegetable garden will be flourishing in no time.

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Remove Weeds and Watch Out For Pests

Whenever you take a walk in your garden, it’s important to keep an eye out for pesky garden invaders such as weeds and pests. This can be a maintenance job because garden invaders tend to come in waves – one minute you don’t have any, and the next there are too many!


To take control of your garden invaders, pull up all weeds that appear with a garden hoe or Hori Hori knife. This could potentially save your garden from suffering any casualties, due to garden pests or overgrown weeds! 


Taking just a few minutes out of each day to check for garden invaders can ensure your garden stays healthy and blooms with beautiful flowers year-round!

Enjoy Watching your garden grow!

The absolute best part of gardening, watching a garden go from bare soil to bursting with life, is one of the most rewarding feelings! All the tools and steps we have discussed are important and needed.



But the best tool in any gardener’s shed is patience – wait for it and watch your garden come alive with beautiful blooms and delicious vegetables. There’s no better feeling than seeing all the hard work you put into nurturing your plants pay off – so enjoy watching your garden grow!

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Vegetable gardening can be so rewarding. Even if you don’t have a lot of space, you can still enjoy the satisfaction of growing your own food or flowers. All you need is a little bit of sun a few gardening tools and some quality soil, and you’re on your way to creating a beautiful garden.



With some planning and the right tools in your shed, anyone can create a lush garden with vibrant blooms or delicious vegetables. Start researching what types of plants are best for your space and climate and make sure to budget for the cost of any essential tools you’ll need.



And don’t forget to give yourself enough time to get everything ready – it may take a few weeks before everything is planted and in the ground so start planning your growing season today – it’ll be here before you know it!


Starting a garden doesn’t have to be expensive – in fact, it can be surprisingly affordable. The cheapest way to start is by collecting seeds from your own fruits and vegetables and then planting them, or by buying inexpensive seed packets. You can also buy starter plants at most nurseries, which come with instructions on how to care for them. Starting with just seeds, potting soil, and a pot you can start growing just about anything.

The easiest plant for beginners is probably one of the common herbs, such as basil, oregano, rosemary, or thyme. These are relatively easy to care for and don’t require a lot of special attention or knowledge. Other easy plants that are great for beginners include lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, and beans. All of these can be started from seed and don’t require a ton of maintenance.

The cheapest way to fill a raised garden bed is with leaves and wood chips or chunks. Gather up fallen leaves and sticks from your yard, or contact your local tree service for free bags of shredded bark or wood chip mulch. Filled the Raised bed just over half with wood and leaves, and then top it off with soil or compost to give your plants the nutrients they need to thrive. This is an affordable way to get your garden started and keep it healthy!

The cheapest food to grow is definitely leafy greens, such as lettuce, kale, spinach, and Swiss chard. These are all relatively easy to grow and require minimal maintenance. They also have a very short season so they can be harvested quickly. Additionally, they don’t require a lot of space and can be grown in containers or small plots. All of these factors make leafy greens some of the most cost-effective crops to grow!

The best way to keep garden pests away is by creating a balanced ecosystem in your garden. Start by encouraging beneficial predators, such as ladybugs and spiders, that feed on pests. You can also use physical barriers, such as row covers or netting, to keep pests away from your crops. Additionally, you can try companion planting, where certain plants are placed together to repel pests and attract helpful insects. Lastly, keep your garden clean and free of debris to avoid providing a home for unwanted critters

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