So you say you are ready to finally plant that garden, but you have no idea of where or how to begin. The good news is, it isn’t as complicated as you might think. All you need to get started is a simple plan, lots of patience and a willingness to get your hands in the dirt on a consistent basis.

Many aspiring gardeners get overwhelmed when they consider all of the varieties of vegetables and flowers available, and because they don’t know where to begin, they simply give up. One of the best ways to avoid discouragement is to plot your course BEFORE you draw your line in the dirt. And because I was at one time just where you are, I have just the plan to get you started.


In other words, where will you plant your garden? Take into consideration that you will need an area that gets lots of sun; at least six hours each day. Vegetables need lots of sunlight in order to grow so this is a very big consideration. If you are growing flowers on the other hand, where you grow them depends on what types of flowers you are planting, but that’s a conversation for another article.

There are a myriad of spaces to grow a vegetable garden including directly into the soil, raised beds, containers, window boxes and hanging planters. If you have the flexibility, why not mix it up.


One of the big questions you should ask yourself before embarking is how much time are you able to or willing to spend in the garden. Gardens are a commitment, but having gardened since I was a child, I cannot begin to tell you how rewarding it can be. Take into consideration that after you plant you will need time to water, weed, stake and generally care of your garden. This is not meant to discourage you, but rather to help you to set realistic expectations. Once you get in your rhythm, you will find that a half-hour, at most per day, is all you will need for an average sized garden plot. Look at it as “you-time” to decompress and think about your next great adventure.


Think about what you and your family like to eat, for instance, salads, root vegetables (i.e. carrots, beets, potatoes) and then consider where and how much you would like to plant. Will the vegetables be planted in containers or will you sow them directly into the ground? Will you plant them in raised beds or hanging baskets? The decision is entirely up to you.

Normally when consulting with novice gardeners, I suggest they begin with herbs and salad greens. Herbs are relatively easy to care for and if you are looking for quick results, you can count on salad to be ready to harvest in little over two weeks if the weather conditions are right. Keep in mind that salad greens are considered cool weather vegetables, which means mid summer is perhaps not the best time to plant. If you have salad greens that carry over from spring into summer, I usually erect a covering over the salad greens to prevent them from burning out.

Other possible vegetables to consider are heirloom & grape tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and peppers. The idea is to start as small or as big as you are comfortable. My suggestion, get your feet wet by starting small this year and gradually grow your plot in coming years.

Seek Advice

If you find yourself stumped, do not hesitate to ask for advice. You can always reach out to me directly by sending me an email with your question ([email protected]) or you can also check out free workshops at your local garden center. If you are in the Virginia, Maryland or DC area, might I suggest Merrifield Garden Center.

I can’t wait to hear your garden stories, so please take a moment to share.

For additional suggestions on what to plant and recipes, your can pick up my new cookbook, Farm Girl in The City – Of Food and Love at

Happy Gardening!


Bonnie (Farm Girl in The City)


Bonnie McDaniel Good Living
Farm Girl In The City 
McDaniel & Company Consulting
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