Resource Roundup: Getting Started With At-Home Gardening

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 Two flourishing container gardens! Potting soil in hand shovel; view from above.

Gardening is a great hobby: not only is it a proven therapeutic remedy that has physical and mental health benefits, it gives you an excuse to get your hands dirty and the end result is HOMEGROWN food! Talk about a short distance between farm and fork. However, getting started with gardening can be overwhelming. To help jumpstart your gardening journey, we’ve put together this resource roundup, which is full of articles, guides, publications, and other gardening resources from NC State University and the Cooperative Extension Program at N.C. A&T State University. No need to go down the Google rabbit hole anymore – read the description of each link to find the resources that best fit your needs.

  • Vegetable Gardening: A Beginner’s Guide: If you only click on one link from this roundup, click this one – it’s a detailed, chronological getting-started guide that includes information about site selection, soil preparation, planting schedules (what to plant and when!), pest management, harvesting practices, and more. 
  • North Carolina Extension Gardener Handbook: The gardener’s encyclopedia! Get tons of detailed, practical, North-Carolina-specific gardening information, ranging from soil structure to organic gardening to native plants and everything in-between. An incredible resource you’ll want to peruse now and bookmark for later. 
  • How to Start a Victory Garden: This straightforward overview from the Cooperative Extension Program at N.C. A&T State University provides information about starting plants from seed, selecting transplanting containers, fertilizing, and growing plants outdoors. 
  • Beginners Guide to Gardening: This guide from N.C. Cooperative Extension of Currituck County includes descriptions of how to design a garden, choose what to plant, and plant it!
  • Growing Vegetables from Scraps: Having trouble finding seeds to get your garden started? Try growing veggies from scraps using this article as your guide.
  • Container Gardening Is for Everyone | NC State Extension: No outdoor space available? Looking for a gardening alternative that’s a little more convenient? Container gardening is your friend! Learn how to get started, including selecting a location, choosing a container, and planting your veggies of choice. 
  • Five Veggies You Can Grow at Home: The 30-second guide to getting started with salad greens, tomatoes, cucumbers and squash, sweet corn, and bell peppers. A two-sentence overview for each veggie!
  • Vegetables | NC State Extension: A resource roundup focused on vegetable gardening. Notably, it includes planting calendars for different regions in NC and a list of resources for gardening with children.
  • Step-by-Step Guide to Starting a Garden from Seeds: Just what the title says! Learn how to start veggies from seeds and prepare to transplant them.
  • Homesteading | NC State Extension: This Extension Local Foods webpage is another resource roundup including information about gardening, fruit production, growing and preserving herbs, planting calendars, soils, composting, and more.

Interested in a more independent exploration of gardening resources? The NC Extension Gardener webpage is full of categorized information for you to discover!

Looking for a more visual guide? 

  1. Watch this N.C. A&T State University webinar recording on “Gardening in Place: Raised Beds 101” (access password 1Y+$0X9S). Recorded on May 21st, 2020, it provides an engaging crash course in raised bed gardening: learn about different types of raised beds and raised bed soil management and watch the raised bed building process happen from start to finish.
  2. Check out “This Week in the Garden”, a weekly video log from N.C. Cooperative Extension of Currituck County starting on June 12, 2020. See gardening in action as principles of gardening are applied to a real-life plot! Includes opportunities to ask questions and win giveaways.
  3. Starting from Seeds Vs. Transplants: This three-minute-long video from N.C. Cooperative Extension of Union County explains when starting a garden from seeds is better than using transplants…and vice versa!

Last but not least, the “SOW App: The Planter’s Companion” is a great gardening resource. Download the app on your smartphone; then type in your county to get specific, seasonal information about the vegetables you can grow in your area! Includes instructions for planting, harvesting, and managing common pests. Developed in partnership by the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and the Cooperative Extension Program at N.C. A&T State University; available in the Apple Store and Google Play store.

Have specific gardening questions? Your county’s Horticulture and/or Agriculture Agent can help! Head to your county’s Cooperative Extension webpage (countyname.ces.ncsu.edu) to get in touch with your Agents.

Post reviewed by M. Alyssa McKim, Extension Associate and Community Garden Coordinator, NC A&T State University Cooperative Extension.

Top left photo credit: Julian Walker via Flikr.