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Beginning Flower/Veggie Gardener - How to get started?

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by Devious on August 22, 2006 12:18 PM
So, gardening in any aspect has always been a fascination of mine. I feel drawn to it. I feel drawn to the maintenance and science and beauty behind it. I've given it a try a number of times in life... and I seem to have an uneducated brown thumb.

My question is... now that I have found this place and believe I'll finally have the assistance or at least guidance to grow something beautiful... what is the best way to get started? Should I purchase seeds and grow them that way? Should I purchase already bloomed houseplants and start that way? We are having huge landscaping done on the house and when it's finished... it's my job to make it even more beautiful and I so want to do well.

What are some basic rules/principles that could get me started? Which plants are easier to grow and which ones should I stay away from as a beginner? If there is a topic that already covers these types of questions or if this belongs in another forum - my apologies and could you please direct me?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions you might have for an eager beginner!

OH - PS: I do have a good idea for growing veggies as I used to help my Mom with that. But flowers are so delicate - TOTALLY not my forte'.

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by Jimmy V on August 22, 2006 12:44 PM
Hello Devious first thing I would do is find out what grows best in your area make sure you have your soil ready and any amendment needed done. Houseplants normally are faster to get results as they are already started. You can start your seeds inside in around February or March so they plant will be ready soon as it warms up enough. Also as for around your house what is your favorite plant , tree,shrub etc. Get photos walk out front on the side and back hold up the photos and imagine the plant in the ground there that usually works pretty good at least for me. I would get plants that bloom the earliest and latest that way you will have blooms all summer. Hope this helps you some. Do not plant too close find out how high and wide each plants gets so you don't have to relocate them later. Also close to the house be careful and not get something that will damage the foundation later down the road. Hope this helps you some.

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by Devious on August 23, 2006 02:54 PM
Thanks for the advice Jimmy [Smile]

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by tkhooper on August 24, 2006 08:56 AM
Ok some more hints and tips. find out your growing zone and the amount of light/shade each area gets. And how much water you are willing to use in your garden. Either that or where you are going to locate your cystern.

While I was in Washington we got those garbage cans on wheels and cut the drain spouts on our gutters so the garbage cans would fit under them and used those as our water reseavours. Use a fine mesh over them to stop the mesquitos from breeding in them. That cut down on the cost of watering which was going as high as 50 to 70 dollars a month for a .2 acre lot.

Once you have all of that sorted out look at the on-line nurseries for what will grow in your zone with your conditions. And as Jimmy already pointed out choose a selection of plants for each area that bloom all during the year. There are even a few that will bloom in winter. Or at least will add winter interest like the walking stick tree.

And again I agree with Jimmy about not planting right up against the house. Reason being that washing or painting the house then becomes very difficult. Give yourself about 18 inches of free space up against the house.

Also be very careful about vines near the house because some of them create roots along the vines that can damage your house. Ivy being the best known for that.

If you are going to use mulch in your flower beds I suggest that you use the large chunks rather than the shredded. The shredded will catch on fire if there is a smoker that tosses their butts around. I personally don't like the new mulch that is made of rocks either. I want the mulch to breakdown and add nitrogen to the soil. Even thought that means I have to mulch each year. I'm not sure about the color died mulches but I'm thinking the environment may not like them as much as people do so I would check that out before I used it.

If you've done veggies I probably don't have to tell you how much a compost pile can save you in costs over the years.

One thing I would definitely do is get a list of the plants the landscapers are putting in and research those here on the site so you know how to care for them. And start a journal of what works and what doesn't. Like I can grow miniature snapdragons in the shade down here even though they are full sun plants.

I definitely suggest tall edging, 6 to 8 inches around your flower beds if you are going to use mulch, to keep it from escaping into the lawn or sidewalks. But especially the lawn. It hurts when the lawn mower throws it at you.

I've probably written way to much but I love gardening too and get excited. And then the words just pour out.

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by Bestofour on August 24, 2006 10:41 AM
are you in a neighborhood? Can you look around and see what's growing nicely in your area?

Perennials are the best way to go, if possible, so you don't have to plant every year. Then you can fill in a little with annuals.

Since you are new to this I would suggest to start with plants instead of seeds. Winter sowing takes a lot of space and time (from my perspective and past experience), so just starting out may not be the time to deal with it. And if you want foundation plants, seeds take a little longer to take off.

The next few months is the perfect time to put out perennial shrubs and bulbs like azealas and daffodils if that's what you want.

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by Devious on August 24, 2006 01:19 PM
tkhooper, Bestofour... that is exactly the kind of advice I was looking for. I intend to save this thread and refer back to it as I get rolling with things.

So... start with flowers, not seeds. Perennials for my area are what's best and don't plant close to the house. Be picky about mulch and creative about watering to cut down on costs.

Mmmm you guys are awesome!

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