Re: New to gardening...need HELP!!!

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Posted by Newt on April 10, 2003 at 07:09:31:

In Reply to: New to gardening...need HELP!!! posted by Amyra on April 08, 2003 at 19:43:46:

: My husband and I just built a new house, and soon we
: will begin the outdoor landscaping projects! I really
: want to do some of this myself, but I know very little
: about it. (I'm attempting to educate myself...)I live in
: northcentral WI - zone 4, and I'm looking to create a
: perennial garden in approx. a 10 X 18 foot area. (southern exposure)

: Here are my questions, I'm hoping someone can help with:
: 1) Do you knowof some other good websites for novices?
: maybe some sample plans,common flower suggestions good for
: beginners...
: 2) What kinds of flowers/plants would you recommend for beginners?
: Thanks in advance!I'll appreciate any help I can get!

Hi Amyra,

Congratulations on your new home and welcome to the wonderful world of gardening. There are some things I tell new gardeners, some of which you may already know so please bear with me.

An annual grows from seed, flowers and sets seed and dies in one year.

A perennial will sprout from seed, by runners, offshoots, bulbs or by propagating itself by rooting along the stems. It will usually only form green growth the first year while developing a strong root system (for some plants it might do this for 2 or more years) and will live for many years, even after setting seed it will resprout from the root system.

A biennial will grow from seed the first year and grow only green growth while developing roots. The second year it will flower, set seed and die.

As a new gardener (often called a newbie), the most important advise I always give is to pay attention to the soil. Healthy soil will lead to healthier plants that will more easily be able to deal with drought and pests. To do this you need to add lots of organic matter to the soil and mix in. The best organic matter is compost. You can make your own or purchase it in bulk or by the bag. A 3" or 4" layer on top of a new bed is a good place to start. Always mulch the beds after planting and once a year with organic mulch that will retain moisture, help keep soil temps even, keep weeds at bay and help to enrich the soil. Organic mulches like shredded wood mulch, leaf mold (shredded and rotted leaves), pine straw (just pine needles) are good ones. Compost can also be used as a mulch and the worms will bring it down and mix it for you over time.

Bugs are necessary to pollinate and even clean plants (ex: peonies always have ants on them and keep other bad bugs away). Don't get out the pesticides when you see a bug. Usually there is a good bug predator for most bad bugs. Know thine enemy. There are sites where you can look up which bug is which.

The right plant for the right place is also very important. You don't want to put a plant that needs good drainage and wants full sun in a moist or wet shady place. Remember that full sun is 6 hours or more, part sun or part shade is 4 to 6 hours and shade is 2 hours or less.

When in doubt and you can't get an answer, contact your local extension service for answers.

Go to the library and look at books on gardening. Many have a plant encyclopedia in the back to help you identify plants and learn their growing needs. There's lots on the web too. Read through lots of posts on forums and try and learn from other gardeners. A great resource besides this one is Garden Web. They have a forum for just about anything in gardening you can think of with lots of helpful gardeners. They have one called 'New to Gardening', 'Northern Gardening' and another you may find helpful called 'Soil, Compost and Mulch'. Be sure and look at the top of each forum to see if there's a FAQ's page. Here's their main forums page. LOTS to read.

Another is HGTV.

For sites that have garden plans, try these.;jsessionid=JIXMDQI0OO1TVQFIBQNSAOWAVABB4IV0

Hope I haven't overwhelmed you!!

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Special thanks to Jane and Bob Rosi for providing this information.

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