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Mar 20, 2013 12:18 PM

New gardener in New England

Hi, I've recently moved and I have the opportunity to plant a good size garden, at least 500 square feet available. I have very little gardening experience and don't know where to start. Can anyone recommend a good book, magazine or web site for starting a new garden from scratch? I'm in Rhode Island and would especially like to know what to plant when for my area. Thanks for any tips.

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  1. I like the Daves Garden site. (
    )It has a NorthEast Gardening board with dozens of knowledgeable contributors happy to help newcomers, and one of the best plant references and supplier evaluations available anywhere.

    You can browse it for free and decide whether you want to member and post questions.

    1. I found Barbara Damrosch's The Garden Primer of immense help when I started gardening. I haven't read the revised second edition, but I'm sure it is no less helpful than the first edition:

      I also found Organic Gardening magazine a great help:

      Here are some specific Rhode Island links. If you google "gardening in Rhode Island" you will find many more resources:

      Good luck!

      1. Try your local County Extension Office for planting information. They can also help you with contacting your area Master Gardener Volunteers, who answer exactly your type of questions.

        1. Our local Agway is offering some seminars but I also enjoy ones given by County Extension. You might find used copies of Crockett's Victory Garden at a used bookstore. This used to be a tv garden show filmed in Boston. The book is divided by months, explaining what to do each month. If you mean vegetables (and some flowers), the original book is great. If you mean flowers, I think there's a Crockett's Flower Garden. I love going over the chore list each week.

 has a New England thread you might find very useful for flower gardening including news about plant swaps and nursery recommendations. There are other threads about specific topics such as vegetables or shrubs but you have to pay attention to the zones where posters live.

          If you're talking vegetables, I would also see Johnny's Selected Seeds' website and sign up for their emails and facebook. You will find catalogs to offer a greater variety of seeds than a local store. If you want a really good selection of tomato plants, you might find them at the farmers market or word of mouth. I get mine from a local, backyard grower who puts a single ad in the NH Farmers Weekly Bulletin each year and I can buy individual plants. This morning I found another list from a local grower who sells at farmers markets. They are taking plant orders now. Check listings for vendors at farmers markets near you to see if there are any links or info about plants. I'll buy my annuals at the farm and feed store but their selection of tomatoes and peppers is pretty limited. Best wishes for a great season if spring ever gets here.

          1. I would start with thinking about what you like to eat :). Plan to start small this year, and as you go through the seasons pay attention to the amount of light in different areas of your yard, what parts are wet, what parts are dry, etc. plant things that you like and see if they grow for you. (I love zucchini, but we are at ground zero for powdery mildew and I've given up on trying to grow it!)

            Look at your neighbors yards to see what grows well. But realize that your microclimate may be different. My neighbor across the street gets morning sun in her south-facing front yard, and her bulbs and plants bloom a week or two before ours.

            There's a book, I think it's called the New England Garden Guide that has specific recommendations for our area (I'm north of Boston).

            Also, star a compost pile/bin ASAP. I made a cheap one out of a 30-gal plastic trash can: use a large drill bit to make holes all around the sides, and then cut out the bottom with a reciprocating saw. Turn the can upside down and put the lid over the cut-out bottom, weighted down with a brick. Fill it with your veggie scraps, used coffe grounds, and shredded newspapers.

            Have fun!