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Old 05-02-2010, 05:35 PM
Location: Wisconsin
677 posts, read 1,473,070 times
Reputation: 633


Hello I am thinking of starting a garden this Spring - if it isn't already too late. As you can tell by that statement alone, I don't know anything about gardening. I'm wondering if anyone would be able to recommend books or websites, or just offer basic advice that might help someone interested in taking up this hobby.

I think that I'm most interested in growing some pretty flowers or herbs, but I don't know what kind would be best suited to thrive in Wisconsin. I'm not opposed to the idea of vegetables or fruit but all that seems to be able to grow around here are tomatoes or watermelon and I'd like to do something a bit more exotic.

I'm also not sure when is an ideal time to start planting or if it's too late in the season to do so. I'll probably do some research online when I have some free time, but for now I like the idea of hearing from you lovely people on City Data

Also, my great-aunt is letting me use her backyard, which has plenty of space, but I would like to grow enough plants to keep me interested but not too many to where I'll have to be over there all the time to tend to them. Is this a realistic expectation? How often do plants need tending? What are some basic supplies that I should purchase to start this?

I'm open to any and all advice Thank you in advance. Have a great day!
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Old 05-02-2010, 05:51 PM
Location: oregon
899 posts, read 2,621,636 times
Reputation: 671
Welcome to the world of dirty finger nails, sore muscles and great satisfaction from watching your garden grow..
Get a note pad, write down what direction your space faces, what the weather is like on it , meaning wind, heat ect..Is there a flower bed already there.
Talk to the neighbors, go to the library and snoop threw all the how to books..
Find your local ag extension office and they will have lots info for you...
Remember in gardening is not an exact science ..
A garden needs to be checked on every day..You'll find it relaxing to go out and see how things are doing..
Start small , talk to your local nurseries too.
Good luck
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Old 05-02-2010, 06:32 PM
Location: Middle Tennessee
204,547 posts, read 78,945,674 times
Reputation: 132959
Find your local ag extension office and they will have lots info for you...

I strongly second this. There is a sticky thread here on this forum for gardening help also. You need locals familiar with your area for the best advice.
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Old 05-02-2010, 07:12 PM
Location: Destrehan, Louisiana
2,192 posts, read 6,373,886 times
Reputation: 3629
Default Welcome to gardening

I visit this site when I have questions about gardening.

How to Grow a Vegetable Garden by The Bayou Gardener

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Old 05-02-2010, 07:55 PM
Location: Way on the outskirts of LA LA land.
3,040 posts, read 10,621,564 times
Reputation: 1932
I'm not very familiar with flower gardens, but I've been reading a lot about vegetable gardens, and have had my own vegetable garden for each of the past several years. Two good books I've been reading are "The Vegetable Gardener's Bible" and "Square Foot Gardening." Both use similar concepts of raised garden beds and wide rows, but vary in many other ways. I'm sure the concepts they apply to vegetable gardens would carry over well to flower gardens, too. As for exotic vegetables, I'm not sure what you had in mind, but both of these books cover a wide variety of vegetables.

Since you are new to gardening, I would suggest starting small, so you're not overwhelmed in your first year. You might even want to consider a "container" garden. This is something you can most likely do at home, so you don't have to travel to your great-aunt's house to tend your garden. There are several "self watering" planters available that will allow you to go a few days between watering. If time to tend the garden is a premium, you may wish to consider using them. Here are two that I know of:

The Garden Patch
EarthBox - Home (http://www.earthbox.com/index.php - broken link)

Not only do these containers provide a steady water and fertilizer supply, their suppliers provide a lot of useful growing information that makes using them quite easy. I've been using the Garden Patch boxes for several years with great results. They are easy to use, and make starting a garden relatively painless. They also make the process goof-proof, for the most part.

Now, to answer one of your other questions, yes it is a little late to get started, but that doesn't mean it's too late. The biggest concern you'll have is soil, because soil preparation can take months, if not years. If you use containers for your garden, you don't have to worry about preparing your garden's soil, because you'll be using packaged soil instead. If you decide not to use containers, but opt for the "square foot" method, you'll also be building your soil from packaged products. If you do try to use the ground where you'll be planting your garden, you'll most likely need to amend the soil with various additives. The various gardening books cover the required steps in much more detail.

The next thing you'll need to do is decide what you wish to grow. This is important because some plants are not frost tolerant. Those that aren't won't be able to be placed in the garden until after the last frost. Where I am, we probably haven't yet had our last frost, so there are things I can't yet put into my garden. When the time comes, I'll probably buy and plant potted plants so I can get a head start on the growing season.
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Old 05-03-2010, 01:34 AM
Location: The mountians of Northern California.
1,354 posts, read 5,854,365 times
Reputation: 1312
Good suggestions!

See if a local nursery has a gardening class. A nursery in our area has free gardening classes throughout the spring and summer. Go to an independently owned nursery, not a big box store. You want someone who actually knows the business to help you. Your area might also have a gardening club. That can be a good way to learn new things also.
Good luck!
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