Starter Gardens: Easy Plants For A New Gardener
With the last frost approaching, gardeners across the country are getting ready to plant. But if you're new to gardening you may get a little lost among the seed packets and cuttings. Gardening is a very involved hobby, but if you keep your plans and your plants simple, you'll have a project that will keep you busy and your home beautiful until the end of summer. Here are 8 easy plants for a new gardener.
You might know bush beans as green beans on the dinner table. They're very easy to plant; they just need well-drained but nutrient-rich soil and full sun. Once the seeds are in the ground, green beans only need 2-3" of water per week. On top of that, there are very few pests that bother green beans in the garden.
Chard (Swiss chard, rainbow chard) is part of the beet family, so its bold and colorful leaves will add a little character to gardens. Chard needs rich soil that's kept fairly moist in full or partial sun. Chard tolerates both cool and warm temperatures so it can find a home in a variety of climates. If you haven't cooked much chard, it does double-duty in salads with its leaves to replace or supplement lettuce and the stalks as a substitute for celery.
If you're looking to invest well in your garden, planting a blueberry bush is an excellent option. They can last for 20 years! To make them last that long, they need moist, well-drained soil and lots of sun. They produce berries starting in June and go through August, but they only bear fruit for about six seasons. However, you can stretch the fruit to last throughout the year as the berries freeze very well.
Raspberries like cooler climates and full sun, but they can tolerate a variety of environments in any type of soil. They don't need a lot of water (only about an inch each week) but they may need the support of a trellis. If all goes well, your raspberry bush will produce fruit as long as you have your garden.
While we love parsley to dress up our dinner plates and brighten the flavor of our favorite recipes, it also enhances the beauty of gardens and makes excellent edging to give your flowers a green boost. Parsley prefers warm, nutrient-rich soil in full or partial sun. As seedlings, they need to be watered frequently. Once the seedlings have sprouted, make sure to water them evenly.
Basil has lofty, full leaves with a lot of fragrance to bring a different kind of sensory joy to your garden. Basil is easy to grow (and expensive to buy fresh from the grocery store) and requires lots of sunshine and rich, moist soil. It only grows in the summer, but it can be used in dishes at any season -- all your best cookbooks have recipes that include basil. It can be preserved by drying it and storing it in glass jars or it can be submerged in olive oil and frozen if you want fresh basil flavor in the winter. It also can be mashed up into pesto and frozen.
Dahlias are easy to grow, but they like cooler, moist climates with warm soil (60°F) and lots of sun. Their large, bright blooms typically decorate gardens on the Pacific coast. They require a lot of water, but only after you can see their sprouts.
Yarrow is a very low-maintenance plant with delicate blooms that come in yellow, red, white and pink. Yarrow likes full sun and very dry soil so they are drought tolerant, but they do require regular watering. Yarrow makes a great border for gardens in the summer, but they also dry well and can be used in tea.