Beginning Gardening

For those pondering the first time creation of their own Eden on earth, we offer some beginning gardening advice.

| March/April 1989

beginning gardening - thriving garden plot

Follow our beginning gardening advice and a thriving plot like this could be yours.


I farm the soil that yields my food. I shared creation. Kings can do no more. — Ancient Chinese Proverb

Perhaps you spent a dreamy winter day among the sweet promises of seed catalogs, or maybe you've been seduced by the memory of granny's tomatoes. It could be that the latest ticker tape of grocery receipt provided the trigger. Or was it the wholesome fantasy of trading jogging shoes for a hoe? At any rate, you've decided to plant your first-time-ever garden. Congratulations! And welcome to the 44% of American families that share an addiction that we euphemistically call a hobby. Oh, you'll hear the same old rationalizations from most of us: We're gardening to save money, to keep fit, to put good food on the table, or to spend time outdoors. And those reasons might have provided motivation when we were at the same beginning gardening stage as you.

As you'll come to know, though, what makes us pull out our tools year after year is the sheer wonder of sticking that pinhead-sized little ball of a broccoli seed into the ground and — ta-da! — eventually harvesting something that holds up the hollandaise. Big crop, little crop — it doesn't matter really. As much fuss is made when just one fine head ripens as when we cart off bushels.

In short, it's being smack-dab in the middle of a real-life miracle that makes this pastime pretty hard to resist. Who can get enough of it? Building a cabinet or piecing a quilt just aren't quite the same. Only gardening (and having children) lets you stand so close to the miracle of life that, like the ancient Chinese quoted on this page, you feel as if you're sharing in creation.

Yes, welcome to gardening. None of us can ever claim to really know the territory. We're all learning as we grow. Each year's a mystery — a renewed challenge — during which you'll reap plenty of mouth-watering vegetables at the very least. What's more important, you'll occasionally have the opportunity to feel like the only person who ever saw a honeybee wake up after spending the night on a morning-glory, or the only soul who's seen the wind rattle a corn leaf, making the plant appear to be scratching its own back. And like a brand-new parent, you'll be blind to the beauty of any broccoli other than your own.

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