Gardening with Laurie: First-time gardeners should start small

By Laurie Garretson
April 24, 2014 at midnight
Updated April 23, 2014 at 11:24 p.m.

This time of year, vegetable gardens are normally beginning their production. Not this year. The unusual weather we have experienced this year has many gardeners scratching their heads as to what to expect next. Cold temperatures didn't seem to want to leave.

Many gardeners reported bad hail damage and frost just last week. Let's hope that with Easter behind us, we can proceed growing our crops under normal conditions.

There continues to be a lot of first-time gardeners very interested in growing their first vegetable gardens. Many show up with notepads and gardening books. It quickly becomes apparent they plan to spend a few easy hours getting their garden area ready, and then all they'll have to do is stick a few seeds and transplants in the dirt, and they're done. In a few weeks, they plan to harvest the crops and enjoy all the beautiful, healthy produce.

Most beginners are back the next day, and they're not quite as enthusiastic as the day before. Their backs hurt, they have blisters on their hands, and preparing their garden soil area wasn't easy or fun.

"We didn't think it was going to take this much time and be this much work," is a common remark from gardening newbies.

I never want to discourage anyone from gardening. I believe humans were meant to be outdoors with nature. Having our hands in the soil is therapeutic. Unfortunately, most first-time gardeners plan gardens big enough to feed a small army. They do not realize the time and work involved in starting a large, new garden.

I encourage new gardeners to start small. Starting small at first gives them a chance to get their feet wet without becoming overwhelmed. Gardening can be lots of fun and great for all ages. Gardening can also be very frustrating and exciting at the first sign of life emerging from the bare soil.

Whether you're a gardener with a few planted pots or a gardener with large areas of planted ground, you most likely will benefit from the mere act of growing something. But I'll warn you, it can be an addictive healthy habit.

Until next time, let's try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.



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