gardening for beginners
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Why You Should Learn To Garden Now

The winter months are prime planting and planning season. Now is the time to start the seeds for a flourishing summer garden. Doing so is not only easy; it is remarkably empowering. While it might seem easier to just pick up a few six packs of tomatoes and marigolds at the garden center this spring, starting from seed lets you choose from thousands of varieties of mail-order seeds, selecting for qualities that matter to you—flavor, beauty, productivity.

You’ll get more bang for your buck: Even after you figure the cost of seed-starting supplies, growing your own transplants is still cheaper than buying them. At the garden center, a flat of 36 petunias, for instance, will cost you about $12, but a packet of 100 seeds costs only $2 or so.

Growing your own plants from seed also ensures that your plants are truly pesticide-free—neonicotinoids, a group of insecticides that which were banned in Europe because of their association with honeybee deaths, have shown up in plants sold at nurseries for home gardens. They’re especially dangerous for bees because they are absorbed into plant tissues and distributed to new growth, including pollen that bees collect and eat.

If you’ve never gardened before, consider starting with surefire vegetables like lettucepeppers, or tomatoes. Some reliable annual flowers are alyssum, cosmos, marigolds, and zinnias. Perennials include Shasta daisies, columbines, and hollyhocks. But feel free to experiment, and don’t fear “failure.” The worst thing that can happen? Some of your plants will die and you can chuck them in the compost. In the interim, you’ll have a lot of fun—and the plants that do make it will give you a gorgeous garden come summer.

Read on for our top tips on how to start gardening.

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