I have always loved to garden. Growing up, I remember helping my dad spread the soil, plant the seedlings, water, and weed all summer until finally we got to harvest those ripe beefsteak tomatoes. Being from Indiana meant that the growing season was short but sweet, making the days of summer even more rewarding knowing that it wasn’t going to last long. There wasn’t a lot of time to take chances on what you grew because if it failed, there just wouldn’t be time in the season to try again.
Now that my family and I are in the South, the growing season is incredibly long. In fact, here in Chattanooga, we can grow something all year long with just a little bit of frost cover. This is great news for the beginning gardener because you can’t fail. If the seeds you planted just don’t spot or your squash get overrun with bugs, you can just plant it again!
I have only been gardening here for three seasons, but I have learned so much that I would love to share with my fellow beginner gardeners:
Get a Greenstalk
These planters are incredible and are made in Tennessee, just down the way in Knoxville. A Greenstalk is versatile, easily moved, easy to water, durable and overall lovely to look at. They also save so much space if you don’t have a large yard to work with.
Visit our local greenhouses before the big box store
There is so much knowledge to be gained by chatting with the employees and supporting small businesses in the process. They will know the best plant varieties that do well in our area.
Research when you can; just wing it if you can’t
I have loved the book The First Time Gardener by Jessica Sowards. Likewise, her YouTube channel, Roots and Refuge Farm, Jessica has been an incredible resource for me in my gardening journey. I have also enjoyed the podcast Old Fashioned On Purpose. But more importantly, just start, be ok with failing, learn from the process, and just have fun! A seed that isn’t planted won’t bear any fruit, but sometimes even seeds planted in the most dense clay might sprout and produce something editable!
Involve the kids
The garden is a great place for connection and growth with your kids. Let them get dirty and don’t worry about having perfect rows or produce that’s picked a little too early. I have loved watching my daughter’s excitement grow each year. She loves to pick our flowers and eat the broccoli right off the plant. So many of our summer hours have been spent digging for worms, catching butterflies and running from bees. I wouldn’t have it any other way. They will learn so much by having their hands in the soil helping you pull weeds, water, and prune tomatoes. Also, prune your tomatoes. The humidity is so intense here, they will thank you.