gardening for beginners

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.

5 Reasons You Should Start Your Own Seeds Instead Of Buying Seedlings
It's a little extra work upfront, but the benefits are pretty astounding.
7 Things You Need To Know Before Buying Seeds This Year
Make the most of your seed purchases this year with this helpful tips.
The 15 Best Seed Catalogs For Organic Gardeners
One of our favorite activities when plants are dormant, is to scroll these sites, and plan for spring.
10 Easy Soil Tests
Make sure the earth is healthy and ready for your organic seeds!
Our Top 10 Tools For Working The Soil
If you're going to be turning some earth, you might as well use the right tools for the job!
Garden Hack For Perfectly Spaced Rows
Avoid crowding or wasting plot space with this DIY project you can do now, while waiting for spring!
Here's Why You Should Stop Pruning Your Trees In The Fall
Fall pruning could cause more harm than good to your bushes and trees.
How To Compost Indoors Through The Winter With A Worm Bin
By springtime, you will have perfect vermicompost ready to supplement your garden.
Here's Why You Should Apply Compost To Your Vegetable Garden This Fall
​It will lead to better soil health and higher nutrient levels come spring.
7 Sure Signs That Frost Is Coming—Brace Yourselves
Use these clues to know for certain when a cold snap will nip your plants.
The Beginner’s Guide To Overwintering Your Plants
Smart techniques for keeping garden plants alive through the winter.
How To Raise Monarch Butterflies—And Why You'd Want To
Watching a caterpillar turn into a butterfly is incredible, and good for the planet, too.
How To Defend Your Garden From Diseases That Will Ruin Your Soil
Learn to recognize the symptoms and understand the causes, then you can prevent them from ruining your garden.
The American Organic Gardener's September To-Do List
Everything that needs to be done in the dirt this month, wherever you live.
5 Garden Projects That Are Perfect For The Late Summer
The latter weeks of summer are a prime time to do great things in the garden, if you know what to plant or where to dig.
Everything You Need To Know To Grow Beautiful Carrots
Carrots are fun and easy to grow—but you have to be patient.