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For New Gardeners
The Seeds
For those of you who have never gardened or are new to gardening in your region, there is plenty of information available to help you on your way to a successful vegetable garden. We provide general planting information for each variety. Simply click on "more info" and you will find when and how to plant information. We DO NOT provide specific planting information on our packets but we do include a general planting guide with each purchase. Many Extension Services hold workshops for new gardeners that can be very valuable. You may find specific information for your area by contacting the Cooperative Extension Service; you can find this information at Many Extension Services have handouts on days to plant and what specific vegetable varieties do well in your area.

I believe that open pollinated and heirloom seed varieties are far superior to hybrid and PVP (patented) seeds. Many of our varieties have been popular for hundreds of years. Prizehead lettuce for example was listed in a 1927 seed catalog for five cents per packet or $1.30 per pound. It has won awards for years and is a fast growing, hardy, delicious lettuce.

The Garden
Once you are armed with this information, it's time to start your garden. First, determine if your soil is good enough for your garden needs. Most soil needs additional compost and soil amenities. You can get great information from your neighbors or local master gardeners (you can find them through your cooperative extension service). In some cases, like here in Tucson, we remove all the dirt - sand, clay and caliche from our garden beds and replace with compost, topsoil and other soil builders. Trying to plant a seed in the desert simply won't work without some support.

Get your garden ready BEFORE it's time to plant. Prepare the soil and get your starter plants going indoors for your spring garden. You can plant tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and lettuce inside in small containers; they'll be ready to transplant when the weather is warm.

Start Small or Big
I'm a proponent of starting with a good size garden - at least 200 square feet. Once you see your first sprouts come up, you'll be happy to have given yourself enough room to plant plenty of wonderful vegetables, flowers and herbs. If you don't have that kind of room, you can  start with a small garden bed. No room for a small bed, you can start with container plantings. Lettuce and all your salad greens can be grown in containers. Many vegetables and herbs can be easily grown in large pots or flats in a sunny location.

We have identified easy to grow varieties in this web site. For spring plantings, lettuce, beets, radishes, tomatoes and squash are wonderful for new gardeners. Seed planted beds or containers are the best insurance for a strong, vibrant, high yielding garden.

Spring or Fall
No matter when you decide to plant, whether it is in Spring, Summer of Fall, just get started. Every square foot that you prepare becomes a dozen lettuce plants, one broccoli plant or bunches of radishes.

The Best Tasting Vegetables
Homegrown vegetables and herbs are even more delicious when you have grown them from seed, nurtured them over the weeks and harvested at just the right time. Just wait until you share your prize tomatoes with friends and family.

You Plant, You Grow, You Harvest
Start with some easy to grow vegetables, add in some of your favorites, try a new variety that you've never eaten, and you will be rewarded. You will be outside, you'll be more in touch with the weather and nature. Is it going to freeze tonight? Do I need to water tomorrow? You'll get exercise and touch the earth. Studies show that gardening reduces stress and anxiety. Gardening also reduces your grocery bill and you'll find that you will eat the veggies you grow, as opposed to the store bought ones sitting a little too long in the refrigerator. Growing your own vegetables significantly reduces spoilage and the costs associated with that loss.

Talk to your neighbors, there is someone down the street who is growing some great vegetables. We gardeners love to talk gardens and vegetables and earthworms!

I'd like to share one of my favorite quotes:
"Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed. Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect miracles." Henry David Thoreau

Happy gardening! Expect miracles! One tiny seed can change a life.

Reggie Smith
Master Gardener
Owner of Westwind Seeds & Gardenscapes