14 best gardening tools and tips for beginners in 2022 – Insider

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Gardening doesn't have to be daunting. If you're a beginner, starting out small with the right pots, seeds, soil, and tools makes a huge difference.

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When I first started gardening, I found it very daunting and like there was so much to learn.
For gardening beginners, I recommend starting out small with a few simple tools and products.
Below, I share my suggestions for the best soil, pots, seeds, and optional tools. 

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I've been gardening for over 14 years and am still in awe when I watch seeds sprout into flowers or vegetables within just a few months.  Initially, I was intimidated by gardening; I kept trying to figure out the best methods while trying to understand jargon like "annual" or "heirloom seeds." I wanted to do everything correctly but soon realized that gardening has too many variables, including some you can't control (like the weather). Just like many things in life, you can do everything right and not get the exact results you hoped for — but it's still worth trying your best and growing along the way.Gardening is fun, straightforward, and doesn't require too many materials to get started. You don't need to get overwhelmed as I did with information overload. In fact, your best bet for success is to start out small by choosing a handful of vegetables, herbs, or flowers to grow and ease into the process. What you need to get started gardening as a beginner:

Potting soil

Potting soil is an essential component of a successful garden — it provides nutrients for your plants to thrive. If you're planning to grow a variety of plants, an all-purpose potting soil is a wonderful option.

Compost

Compost is created from organic material that is broken down and turned into what gardeners call "black gold." Compost can be made from plant debris, leaves, wood, fruit and vegetable scraps, paper, and more that decomposes and turns into a rich, natural amendment that provides nutrients for your plants while also enriching the soil. You can make your own compost, but it can take a couple of months or longer, depending on the process. When you're just starting out, it's best to buy a bag or two until you set up your own compost area in your garden.

Pots

If you're not growing directly into the ground or a garden bed, you will need containers. When you're starting out, you can upcycle by using what you may already have on hand, such as yogurt or milk cartons. If you're starting your garden from seeds, use egg cartons as a receptacle. Just be sure to create a few small drainage holes at the bottom so the water can drain.  I like the classic ceramic pots in various sizes to accommodate different crops. For example, you'll likely need to buy bigger pots if you're growing root vegetables such as beets, onions, garlic, or potatoes. Tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, and squash all have roots that take up a lot of vertical space and if you're growing lettuces, herbs, or strawberries, I'd opt for a wider, rectangular pot. 

Seeds or seedlings

Barbara Rich/Getty Images

Typically, it's best to purchase seedlings from your local nursery or garden center since they will have the best varieties for your geographical regions.When it comes to planting a garden, you have two options: you can sow your own seeds or buy seedlings. Sowing your own seeds offers a lot more varieties and possibilities, is less expensive than buying seedlings, and lets you partake in the process from the very first moment by watching the seeds germinate and grow into a big plant. Buying seedlings gives you the advantage of a plant that is ready to be placed into the garden. You can buy how many you want and know they'll be compatible with your climate zone (nurseries and garden centers sell seedlings that do well where they're being sold). Starter plants cost more and the selection can be limited, but it may be a positive thing when you're just getting started; there are already plenty of decisions you'll have to make.

Botanical Interests specializes in vegetable, herb, and flower seeds, and also offers an organic line. You'll often find these seed packets available at your local nursery and garden center. 

Seeds Savers Exchange is a company dedicated to preserving rare, heirloom, and organic food and flower seeds for future generations. They are one of the largest suppliers to both home gardeners and farmers.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds is a family-run national seed company dedicated to collecting seeds from around the world and preserving them to maintain biodiversity and food security. Its seeds are available on the website. You can also visit its farm or two brick-and-mortar locations. Some nurseries also carry Baker Seed Heirloom Seeds packets. 

Optional items

Personally, I like to have direct contact with the soil and plants so I don't usually put on gloves when I'm planting. One caveat is plenty of brown goodness under my fingernails but for me it's worth the extra time it takes to clean them later. However, I do use gloves to protect my hands if I need to prepare a garden bed by turning the soil with a garden fork or turning the compost pile.  

This tool can be helpful when it comes to breaking up roots, digging a small hole, or transplanting (moving your plant from one location to another).A transplanting spade makes the process smoother and easier. If you've sown many seeds in the same pot and they all sprouted, you can use a spade to gently divide them and their roots. 

If you're growing directly into the ground or using spacious raised beds, you may want to invest in some bigger garden tools, such as a garden fork, spade, or shovel to turn the soil or a compost pile or dig bigger holes. You can also check out our guides on more beginner and advanced gardening tools.

Books and online classes

Masterclass

Taking an online or in-person gardening course offers a way to learn the basics as well as plenty of tricks. Books are also a wonderful resource and cover everything from beginner gardening to specifics on growing vegetables, herbs, or flowers.

The bottom line

One of the biggest gardening lessons I've learned from running a quarter-acre school garden and tending my own garden for over a decade is that nature isn't consistent. Even with all the right tools, gardening requires patience, kindness, observation, and a willingness to throw perfection out the window.

Lauren David is a Chilean-American freelance writer. She writes about food, travel, tech, wellness, and more and has been published in various publications, including Budget Travel, Greatist, Huffington Post, Reader's Digest, and Taste of Home. When she's not writing, she enjoys spending time in her garden and by the ocean. See her portfolio on her website: https://laurendavid.net/
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