The Absolutely Right Way to Start a Garden

by Cheryl Merser

As with most occupations, there are different ways to approach the garden.

The absolutely right way to start a garden, for instance, is to bulldoze your whole yard, then, according to a friend of mine, a brilliant (if obsessive gardener), spend some time in it naked in the middle of the night, wandering around looking for microclimates — those slightly warmer or slightly cooler pockets of air that hover over even a tiny tract of land. After that, you start measuring and marking with stakes and string the beds and borders, and enrich the soil with different things depending on what you’re going to plant where, after installing a complicated and expensive underground sprinkling system.

Meanwhile, months ago, you made careful lists of new and replacement plants you needed and ordered them all from the catalogs, early enough to make sure you got what you wanted. You’ve also been germinating and grafting plants for weeks in your greenhouse or electrically heated cold frames so that everything will be ready at the right moment, gauging by the last frost date plus a few extra days to be on the safe side, to plant outside in an orderly blooming sequence. You are armed and ready for spring.

Perhaps a less desirable but still reasonably effective, way to start a garden is to notice one day that the weather is sunny and fine and to think that it might be fun to plant a few things and see what happens.
— Cheryl Merser, American gardener and author, A Starter Garden, How to Start a Garden

As featured on
The Daily Gardener podcast:

Words inspired by the garden are the sweetest, most beautiful words of all.
The Absolutely Right Way to Start a Garden
The Absolutely Right Way to Start a Garden

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