Re: New to gardening and very young

Are there gardens of the type you'd like to grow that you've seen around? One thing about gardeners, we're talking the people who do the gardening themselves.. not someone who hires a landscape company, they're usually willing to talk with folks about their garden and gardening experience. So, if you have seen some gardens around that you like, talk to the folks. If they're outside stop by and say I've admired your yard for some time now, and I want to learn how to do these things, have you any pointers?
If you talk with several people, you'll likely get some good advice that applies to your situation, because they live and garden where you live and want to garden.
I've seen most of the general suggestions I'd have .. but I haven't seen you mention the *size* of the area you have to work with. That makes a great deal of difference in what I'd recommend as what I'd suggest for a 10 x 10 or 5 x 20 garden is much different than what I'd suggest for a 60 x 100 foot garden.
So, measure the area you want to work with. Keep track of the sun patterns on that area when you can, what time does the sun hit it, what time does it leave it? If there is shade, where and how much?
What do you want to grow? Food, or ornamentals? Herbs? etc?
I started working on our yard when I was 14 because I was bored, and I asked if I could plant a vegetable garden, and my dad not only said yes, he thought it was a good idea, and he started digging and actually kind of took it over, but we had a large garden that year, and we grew a lot of food, which we needed as we were pretty much broke. Mom and dad canned a lot of green beans, mom made pickles, pickled beets, froze corn, peas, canned tomatoes, made relish, chili sauce.. like the stuff you've perhaps's sold near catsup, red like catsup, but a little different seasoning. Not "hot".
Dad pretty much had a garden everywhere he lived after that except for 2 or so years we lived in a large city and didn't have a place to garden. But after we left there he had a garden every year up to his death at 94. He made raised beds part of the time, part of the time just slightly mounded beds. He mowed lawns in the summer .. all this after he was 62 .. and he hauled home literally TONS of grass clippings and put them on the garden beds as mulch, and turned them under at the end of the year. Put the overflow into compost bins.
So, get your tape measure, some scraps of wood to use for stakes. Even tree trimmings, anything you can use to pound into the ground, pieces of angle iron.. but make sure you can SEE any metal well.. spray paint it orange! If you have some string or twine take that with you. Determine what your family will allow you to use, measure it out, write it down and pound a stake at the starting point, to the next corner, or edge, and then to the next and so on. Take the string and wrap that around all the stakes around the edges. That makes it easier to visualize, as well as a guide to where to start digging.
If you have a lot of long grass.. you could either mow it very very short.. or.. leave it long, and take a shovel or better if you have one, a spading fork .. sink the digging implement of you choice into the ground and tip it bad a bit to loosed the soil enough to be able to take hold of the long grass.. and pull it out of the loosened soil. The spading fork really works best for this, but experiment with it, figure out how deep to dig and how far to rock back on the shovel/fork handle that it will just loosen the soil enough to let you get that grass out without it breaking off in your hand too much.. as that won't get the roots out and it'll just come up again right away.
If all this is just way too daunting for you, and you aren't averse to it .. you could mow the area like usual, around 3" long, then do your measuring and staking, water the ground well if needs be .. if it doesn't rain enough, and then get some roundup, spray the grass & weeds within the area you can garden in, and it's supposed to let you see where you've sprayed in 24 hours time, and it should kill most of it within a week or 10 days. You can spot spray or dig what's left.
After that, just keep the area cleaned of weeds by hand weeding means, hoeing, mulching. You can use the trimmings from the rest of the yard, ..cutting it more often will keep weed seeds out of it.. to mulch and/or use to make compost for next year too.
You can lay down newspapers on newly dug ground to keep seedlings from sprouting and taking over. If you are going to put out started plants, just cover the area with several thicknesses of newspaper, wet down, and then cut an X through it to put your plants out and then cover around . If you're wanting to seed, do so, then put the paper on ether side of the areas you seed. I'd recommend a 2 or 3 foot wide bed to plant in rather than rows...if growing veggies. Starting a few lettuce seeds every week and setting them out as transplants is MUCH better than seeding it into a row where it will just attract slugs.
Half whiskey barrel planters are good too for other areas to spread out. Drill a hole or several .. in the bottoms before filling with a potting mix you buy or make with dirt/peatmoss/bag composted manure/sand mixed to make a light mix.
I'll shaddup now. ;-) Walk around, look for gardens, talk to gardeners in your area.. you'll gather a wealth of knowledge, and perhaps some starts of plants for your garden! And could be some new good friends that could last for many years to come!
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Good advice from people here and never too young to start... There are some of us young uns about (I'm only in my 20's :)
Note what people say.. Start small, read a lot,.. TALK to other people. Don't be put of by what is 'seen' (a lot of the time) a pursuit of the older generation. (It isn't but some people erceive it that way) Gardening or ' Horticulture' to give it its technical title is for everyone :)
Look at other peoples gardens /Yards (Note: US/UK term.. Yard = 'Garden' in UK, more or less) We ususally use 'Yard' to refer to industrial settings as in 'Builders Yard' :))
Gardeners are ususally, pretty friendly and will give you tips, advice, experience, as well as plants (if they have excess)..
Look about at your neighbours gardens and see what is DOING well.. if there is something that appears to do well in your local area, then give it a go and use it to learn with.. Chances are if it does well ya won;t kill easily it by ignorance :)
Personally I like to grow stuff that is both ornamental AND USEFUL so I grow things like cherry tomatoes, chillies, courgettes (zuchini) and bits of more exotic stuff like tomatilloes.. However I also like wildlife so plant stuff to attract birds, insects (the nice ones) etc which benefit everyone. Herbs are fun, AND save ya money on buying them..
Get to know your weeds. A plant is only a weed when *you* don't want it there :)
Have fun, and remember.. There are NO Stupid questions :)
Jim North London, England, UK
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This is what I would do ....
Mark off the area you are thinking of planting in - take a hose or something like that and get an idea of the outline of the plant bed. Feel free to start small. Then, after you know where you want your plants, take a shovel and mark out what you outlined w/the hose, know what I mean? Basically, dig out an edge for your new flower bed. Then, dig out everything in the middle of that, down about 6 or 8 inches, save the soil (in a wheel barrow or something) and mix some other soil in w/it that you can get at a garden center, maybe some top soil or soil w/some nutrients in it, like miracle gro stuff. Also, you'll want some inexpensive edging to keep the grass from growing back into your flower bed. You can buy rolls of it at Walmart and the like, it's simple to use, stick it around the edge of your bed, and put the dirt back in that you dug out. Voila, plant bed. Magazines, books, etc., all have very useful plans and ideas and tips for starting from scratch.
Now you have to figure out what to plant. This is where your local nursery, a neighbor, parent, sibling, etc., can help. Are your mom or dad into gardening? If you have a neighbor w/a flower garden, even if they are a few streets over, go talk to them, introduce yourself, there's almost nothing a gardener likes better than to talk plants and show some tricks to, and even share plants that they've run out of room for. mmmmm, free plants! :-) Also, lots of times there are local gardening clubs that have plant swaps, etc.
Try to find plants that you like, put tall ones toward the back, shorter ones toward the front. Look at the ID tags that come w/plants to see how tall they grow, how far apart to plant, etc., if they need full or part or no sun, that way they don't just fry or shrivel. Also, seeds may be the less expensive way to start, but I like faster results myself ... buying small plants at nurseries yields instant results and nowadays they're inexpensive. Also, try to ask about pests that attack plants, if they're easy to care for or require more work, etc., and if you're ever talking to someone at a garden center that doesn't seem to know their butt from their elbow, then go somewhere else.
Don't worry about doing anything wrong - my mantra is "If it grows, it grows".
Best of luck and welcome to the wonderful world of gardening - if you're like most of us, you'll be running out of room for plants you buy or inherit, lol.

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