Some encouraging words from the people who know best. And, of course, “there’s always another growing season around the corner.”

Beth Syphers harvests flowers from her farm
Kyle Johnson
Beth Syphers harvests flowers from her farm.

Sometimes the toughest part about a project is starting it.

That’s certainly true for gardening. First-time gardeners can be paralyzed by indecision and the sheer volume of information out there on what to plant, how to plant it, where to plant it, how to maintain it, how to troubleshoot what inevitably goes wrong, and more.

We recently spoke to a bevy of experts on all things beginner gardening, raised beds, troubleshooting mistakes, pests, pollinators, and so many other gardening topics. Their advice ran the gamut, but we were encouraged by their words, and we though we’d pass along the advice.

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Arber CEO Vanessa Dawson shared some hopeful words of advice: “There’s always another growing season around the corner, and there’s something that grows at every time of the year.”

The Plant Good Seed Company’s Quin Shakra advises, for all the impatient gardeners wanting to see results in a weekend (guilty), “Have patience, develop tolerance.”

Epic Gardening’s Kevin Espiritu summed it up succinctly: “Gardening’s about finding what works for what you’re given.” Raised bed in a city? You can do it. Transform your space into an awe-inspiring edible garden. Harvest those vegetables at exactly the right time. Just know your space and become comfortable with adapting to what it needs.

Perhaps the most encouraging (for us truly beginner gardeners out here): Urban Farms LA’s Sophie Pennes says to just “keep trying.” See more helpful words of wisdom below.

We Asked the Experts:

“Just start. Don’t overthink it. Just get your hands in the soil and enjoy being outside, no matter if you fail or succeed. You will improve your life.”

-Beth Syphers, Crowley House Flower Farm

Beth Syphers arranges flowers in her studio, harvested from her farm.
Beth Syphers arranges flowers in her studio, harvested from her farm.

Kyle Johnson

“For first time gardeners, it goes back to auditing your space and knowing your light access. Those are the first two things to think about. Gardening’s about finding what works for what you’re given.”

-Kevin Espiritu, author of Field Guide to Urban Gardening and creator of Epic Gardening

“Be realistic about your expectations and your level of involvement. You have to want to spend time with your garden and tend to it properly for ultimate success.”

-Raúl Fernández, Victory Garden LA

“Plants want to grow! It’s your job to become a keen observer and fast responder to plant needs. You will experience all sorts of problems – they are the learning curve that will help you be more responsive in the future. Have patience, develop tolerance. The mistakes are the teachers.”

-Quin Shakra, owner of The Plant Good Seed Company

“Keep trying.”

-Sophie Pennes, Urban Farms LA

Enclosed Raised Bed

Courtesy of Sophie Pennes

“I think going back to permaculture is to stay in observation as long as possible. In America in particular, we’re so prone to just do something, but we learn a lot just by watching. I spend time just observing and I notice a lot of things, and when we move into action then we’re going from a place of deeper reverence and more thoughtfulness.”

-Don Tipping, Siskiyou Seeds

“My biggest tip is don’t expect and don’t put pressure on yourself that you’re supposed to know everything before you get started. You’re going to build your own relationships with your garden, and there will be times of exceptional success and there will be times of frustration, but it’s important to just keep doing it.”

-Lauri Kranz, founder of Edible Gardens LA

Lauri Kranz, Edible Gardens LA

Photograph by Yoshihiro Makino from the book, ‘A Garden Can Be Anywhere,’ by Lauri Kranz and Dean Kuipers, published by Abrams Books

“Don’t get frustrated if it doesn’t work out perfectly from the get-go. There’s always another growing season around the corner, and there’s something that grows at every time of the year. You really can really continue learning year-round with it.”

-Vanessa Dawson, founder and CEO of Arber

Vanessa Dawson and son Greyson digging in the garden
Vanessa Dawson of Arber

Courtesy of Arber

“Start simply and just read about it. Read seed packets. If you’re in a nursery, ask questions, that’s what the people who are working there are for. They’re excited to talk to you.”

-Clarke De Mornay, senior sales person and buying consultant, Flora Grubb Gardens and Grubb & Nadler

“Enjoy yourself. I think people kind of write things off as failures way too soon. Gardening shouldn’t be stressful. It should be just the opposite, right?”

-New Mexico landscape designer Judith Phillips