How To Start A Garden

Just begin.  Remember these four words: Soil, Sprout, Spot, Season.  Accept that gardening is a lifelong journey.  First I will present you with questions, please consider them for a moment, but don’t worry, below I will provide answers.  I just want to be clear up front that there is a huge range for each of these items and the more imagination mixed with practicality you can bring – the more fun you will have.

Soil: The future plants must grow in a substrate.  What will it be?

Sprout: What type of plant will you grow and how will you get it?

Spot: Inside or Outside? Wet or dry? Sunny or Shady?

Season: Where do you live and what is the time of year?

I have found that the greatest gardening success comes from considering those items.  Usually I don’t have to look beyond this list to understand mishaps.  My favorite plants are those that thrive across a range of conditions.  That range must include Houston summers.  Collard Greens, Okra, Garlic, Lemons, Jasmine, Gardenia, Bidens alba, Fig, Sweet Potato.  Depending where you live you can follow along with my schedule and plants, or you may need to consider your area to find the best fitting plants.

Woman kneeling on ground with stack of collard greens 2 feet high and spilling out of a small green basket. Background of photo is lawn and greenry
Fire Ant Lisa with a recent collard green harvest. Sorry about the overexposure on the leaves, our Texas sun is bright, even in the shade.


Reasonable expectations.  Please begin gardening with an open heart for yourself and for the little plants that are sure to follow.  It is life and death.  It can be exciting.  It can offer perspective.  It can make us very appreciative of the produce section at the grocery store.

four cabbage worms on a collard green plant
Known by me as cabbage worms even though I know they are caterpillars. Gardening gives us practice learning about life and death. The caterpillars have to go, i usually toss them into the lawn, I think if you squish them they have little prickly hairs.

I like to grow plants that don’t need much attention and don’t need a super specific climate window.  Collard greens are amazing and I do think that anywhere you live you can get these growing.  This is the plant I recommend to all.  It is healthy to eat.  Which brings up an important point:

What is your goal with gardening?

I think that there are many noble goals in the gardening world.  Food production, native plants, soil regeneration, aesthetic appeal, fragrance, privacy.  There is one that I think we would all do well to move away from, endless lawns and unproductive shrubs.  There is so much in the world that we don’t control.  Our lawns are something we do control.  Let’s really make the most of them, the best way we can.

Basket of lemons with a few leaves and stems
Fruit trees are the on of the lowest effort highest yield most inconspicuous yet radical transformation you can make in your suburban landscape.


Ok, I told you I would give you answers so you can get started with something while you let your imagination run wild with plans:

Soil: Potting Soil

Sprout: Collared Green Seed

Spot: Indoor Window Sill

Season: Anytime Indoors

Easy way to germinate seeds
Starting some sprouts on my windowsill



Fire Ant Lisa