This is the first of several posts (about 6 or 7, I believe) in which I am attempting to get caught up on all of the great questions that have been sitting in my inbox this spring!!! I'll be answering them according to theme, so some of the upcoming posts will be focused on Nutrition, Natural Living, PCOS, Mothering/Homemaking, etc. I'll try to post up at least 2 of them each week for the next several weeks!

husband is so excited for me to start a small vegetable garden this
year since we finally now have our own land.  I am excited, too, but
overwhelmed since I am a "city girl" and know NOTHING about gardens.  I
have read the posts you've written so far this year on how you're
getting started.  I live in Tennessee so obviously it's even warmer
here than where you're at.  So am I too late to just begin learning and
thinking about this???  What would you recommend doing to get started? 
Should I just buy some starter soil and maybe some tomato and green
pepper plants and get them going?  What other vegetable plants are
"easy"?  Do you have a site recommendation for newbies trying to learn
how to do this?


Hi Amy! There are very few times of the year when I would consider it too late to get started! :) Even if it's winter time, there's always room for a windowsill pot of herbs or to start planning out your garden for the next spring!

For a simple but rewarding first year, you can't go wrong with trying out either a very small garden plot (4 x 4 ft is a nice size for a beginner) or several patio style planters (whether they're on your patio or not).

Some easy veggies to get started with include:

  • tomatoes (especially if you buy well-established plants from a nursery)
  • peppers (again, buying good plants and these do best if you live somewhere quite warm and sunny- they're not for beginners in Canada, that's for sure! LOL!)
  • lettuce and other greens (kale, spinach, swiss chard, etc.)
  • carrots (easy if you have nice soil or are starting with bought soil, but a bit tougher if your soil is very clayish and rough)
  • peas (both snow/snap and shelling)
  • radishes (these grow and can be eaten within a month- talk about rewarding!)
  • herbs: parsley, basil, oregano, dill and cilantro are among the easiest I've tried to grow
  • bush or pole beans

A few sites to help you out:
You Grow Girl
Square Foot Gardening Official Site
Life on the Balcony (specifically for those doing container gardening)

A few books that I've found helpful:
Square Foot Gardening

Joy of Gardening

Rodale's Vegetable Garden Problem Solver


I'm looking for some tips on how to grow lettuce, tomatoes,
and strawberries in containers.  I'm hoping to develop a green thumb,
but seem to overlove my plants.  Any ideas on things like how much sun,
water, etc.  I live in a hot climate, but very dry.  Do they like
larger containers?  Probably true of the tomatoes, but what about the
others?  Any advice would be helpful.

Robin, I think that the issue isn't so much whether they're in containers (although that does make a difference) but that it's more about learning how to work with specific plants in your particular climate, and also just learning exactly what different plants prefer (more sun, less sun, more of a certan nutrient like calcium or nitrogen, etc.).

I would start out with the book I mention above, Rodale's Vegetable Garden Problem Solver. It is organized by topic, and you can look up each vegetable alphabetically, so it's a quick and easy reference. It discusses some of the issues for those in more Northern or Southern climates, the types of nutrients that each plant requires, specifics for how to plant them, different methods of planting and staking/caging/using support poles, how much water they like, etc. It includes diagrams where relevant, and I found it just so simple for a relative beginner (which I still am!) to understand.

As far as specifics for container gardening, the site mentioned above, Life on the Balcony, seems to be a good starting place. She lists some container gardening books on her sidebar that she recommends (which I would know nothing about!), which may be worthwhile for you to check out from your local library or maybe purchase for reference. It seems easiest to find what you're looking for by using the search bar near the top right hand and entering something like "strawberries".

Another great reference is a good gardening forum. Here you can ask specific questions to other gardeners, including some who will be from a similar climate to yours or perhaps are container gardeners also! One that I like is the idigmygarden.com forum, from the Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds site, but there are many others out there if you google a bit for "gardening forums".

Any other answers or suggestions for these two questions? For beginning gardeners, what veggies have you found the easiest to grow? Any good resource recommendations for either beginners or for container gardening?