3 Best Gardening Tips for Rookies

On so many levels, gardening is good for you: Studies have shown the activity can help boost mood and reduce stress and anxiety

Start with a small commitment.

It’s tempting to buy up every gorgeous plant you see at the garden center, but it’s better to make your initial efforts a little less ambitious and more manageable (you will have to weed that garden, after all!). For vegetable gardens, stick with a plot no bigger than 10 x 10 feet. Or opt for raised beds about 3 feet long, or go for several pots on your deck or balcony. You can always go bigger next year.

Good soil is what every garden needs.

How can you tell if your soil is decent? It should feel crumbly and be able to hold water when moist. That is, it’s not heavy clay or sandy, and a handful of moist soil can be squeezed into a ball. You can improve the soil by adding amendments such as compost (here’s how to make your own!) to improve soil structure, but you also need to know what nutrients are missing. A quick, inexpensive soil test from your local coop extension service will tell you what you need to add.

Grab a cup of coffee and do some morning weeding.

It’s far easier to keep up with things when you don’t let it get out of hand (hello, laundry basket!). The same goes for your garden beds. Weeds compete for water and nutrients with the plants you do want. Take a stroll through your garden every few days or wander around for a few minutes with your morning coffee, and pull weeds as they appear.