New Gardener - Help!


Old 04-18-02, 01:56 PM
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Question New Gardener - Help!

I just moved and for the first time have a garden all my own. I would like to have both flowers and vegetables, but I don't know the first thing about where to start. I am located in WI and have three terraced levels to deal with - one is 12 x 12, one is 12 x 5,
and the last is approx 12 x 15.

Any suggestions would be great!

BTW - Anyone know what zone WI is in?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 04-18-02, 02:20 PM
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Hi Katydid

Welcome! Where in Wisconsin are you? Then we can determine your zone. Better still, check this out:

Then we can also determine what grows well in your zone. Have fun, and we are all here and more than happy to help

Old 04-20-02, 10:47 AM
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New Gardener

Hi Katydid!

Welcome to the Wonderful World of Gardening.

You can find out what zone you are in by calling a local extension office. They are usually part of a State University, but do have local offices. Also your local nurseries or garden centers can inform you. They usually stock the plants that are suitable to your area.

The basis for all gardening is the type and condition of your soil. The extension offices test soil which may be necessary to growing certain kinds of plants. You have to consider sun and shade also.

I live in the curve of the thumb in lower Michigan and we are in Zone 5.

Good luck with you plans and plants! Tessiej
Old 05-03-02, 07:04 PM
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Newbie Gardener

Welcome to the wonderful world of gardening! The most important things I would tell you is to think about your soil. If you have healthy soil, your plants will stay healthier and resist disease and pests. Add compost to every garden bed. Put on about 3" or more and mix in.

Then think about the sun conditions. Is it full sun (6 hours or more), part sun (4 to 6 hours), part shade (1 to 4 hours of sun) or full shade (no direct sun)? This will help when selecting plants.

The other thing to keep in mind is the degree of wet or dry. If a plant description says "needs good drainage" or has silver leaves, you can pretty well bet that it won't grow somewhere where the soil is constantly moist.

Go to the library and take out some books. Many have a plant encyclopedia in the back of them. Start looking at these and think about which plants you like. I tend to like plants with soft colors and delicate flowers. I have also found that natives are easier to care for if put in the right place (sun, water needs and proper zone). Buy a few garden magazines and look at the pictures to get an idea of the look you like. You can also get out some books on veggie gardening and when you find some that you can relate to, buy yourself a couple as a reference guide.

You can research plants and veggies at It's a great search engine. Just put in the name, preferably the Latin name as common names can belong to many different plants. Use quote marks around the name like this - "digitalis lutea". If you look just above the search box, you will see 'Images' and you can click on that as well to just get pictures.

Read the posts on this forum and others to learn from other gardeners. Another wonderful forum is The Garden Web. They have forums on just about any topic you can think of. Here's their main forums page. Take a look and see if any of the topics interest you. Lots to read there and helpful people like here.

Hope I haven't overloaded you.

Good luck and enjoy,
Old 05-03-02, 09:33 PM
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Hi Newt,

Welcome aboard. I must say, I'm impressed with your advice. I read ALL your posts before I decided to make a comment. I'm also a follower of GardenWeb, although my time is limited, and I can't check it out like I used to and rarely respond.

I did the same thing you are doing when I found DIY. I just started answering questions, and I'm sure everyone thought, "who in the world is this Gami person". Well, they all know me now, but we don't know you. Fill us in.

We'll look forward to some more good advice from you.

Old 05-03-02, 10:04 PM
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Thanks, Gami


Thank you so much for the compliment! I have been seriously gardening for about 14 years now. When I first started, my intentions were serious but my skills were totally inept. I'd buy a plant because it struck my fancy and I'd put it in the wrong place. When the spring floods came, I'd wonder why it died - when it was a desert plant.

Well, after renting this house for 13 years, we bought it last year. Spent the spring, summer and fall renovating the house and grounds. Had to take down 5 trees and dig up the stumps (broke my heart) and regrade the land, but it was that "wrong plant in the wrong place" problem. I spent the fall and early winter digging, digging and more digging. I had to put 500 potted plants in the ground for the winter and ended up dislocating my pelvis and slipping 3 disks. Now you know why I have time to sit at the computer!! Still waiting to be able to unpot the plants and give them a 'final' home. At the rate I'm healing, that will probably be next spring, but gardeners learn patience.

Old 05-04-02, 09:57 PM
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Hi Newt,

Sorry to hear about your back problems. Been there too. I was in a car accident quite a few years ago. It would have been a little more bearable if the problems were caused from gardening or something else more enjoyable. No problems now, I'm happy to say.

I know how you feel about not being able to garden as zealously as you used to. It will come.

Funny you should mention that, but ONE of the FIRST people who helped me with my questions on another garden board (Sierra) was someone who had to go on disability because of a work accident. He pushed himself to the limit and is now back to normal. Obviously, he's gardening up a storm, because he doesn't show up on Sierra anymore. Everyone enjoyed him and learned a lot. He certainly is missed by all.

When you're back to normal, I hope you'll still be around to help others.

I've been gardening since the 70's. I used to have a HUGE, HUGE veggie garden and canned and froze everything. Now I'm mainly into flowers, but have a veggie garden with those extra special few that taste so much better from the garden than in the stores. (I'll be veggie gardening this year again for the first time in 2 years--can't wait. I expanded it a little today.)

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