In 1977, I grew my first vegetable garden. My neighbor, Joanie, encouraged me to garden, took me plant shopping and taught me about organic gardening. I was hooked from turning the soil to adding compost to seed starting to fighting off slugs with beer. I never ate tomatoes until I grew my own that year. Wow! They weren’t like pale pink cardboard!
I also planted a flower garden in front of our cabin. I learned the difference between perennials, annuals and biennials, and made a lot of mistakes before catching on to that information.
Joanie gave me a copy of Organic Gardening Magazine. It was 6″x9″ with a color cover and newsprint pages, I think. I devoured it and got my own subscription, which I had for many years. By then, I knew how to garden, and the information had gotten redundant, so I did not renew. I resubscribed several years later, though, to keep up on what was happening in the organic world.
That is how I learned to garden – Organic Gardening Magazine. I highly recommend it for beginners and for a constant and consistent source of learning.
This time of year, I am getting a lot of questions about gardening. People want to know about compost, soil structure, plants to attract bees, how far to space plants, the difference between heirloom, open-pollinated and hybrids, what works best for their climate. I am fielding questions from around the country! After I answer their questions, I suggest they get a subscription to OG.
The other resource I have and continually refer to is Rodale’s Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening. It’s like many years’ worth of OG Magazine compiled in one handy spot.
For native landscaping specific to New Mexico, I read Judith Phillips’ books. When I got here from New England in 1988, I quickly realized I had to relearn everything I knew about gardening. Wind, sun, cold and little rain were my new teachers. Phillips wrote books about the ecosystems of the state, and I devoured them, but they were a little too academic to recommend to the average gardener. She finally wrote the book I felt would make a great gift, New Mexico Gardener’s Guide. I highly recommend this if you are learning to garden in New Mexico!
If you want to learn how to garden or if you have questions when no one is around to answer them (don’t we all wake up in the middle of the night worried about our gardens?!), I strongly suggest relying on these gardening resources!