Gardening 101

Welcome! We have created this blog to join you on your gardening journey, whether you are a seasoned master gardener or are just getting started. Here you’ll find inspiration and helpful tips for the garden you plan to grow.

In this blog post we would like to cover the basics of gardening – let’s call it Gardening 101. In future posts we’ll cover more specific subjects like growing salad greens, planting an herb garden, and growing cut flowers.

The first thing we would like to convey is that as a gardener you are a steward. Seeds want to germinate and plants want to grow! All you have to do is facilitate the right environment for them to thrive. Those environmental factors – water, temperature, soil fertility, and sun exposure – as well as when to get started are some things you’ll find below. So let’s get started!

When do I start seeds?

This depends on location, which is why we created the Freckled Hen Garden Calendar as a quick, easy and beautiful resource!

All the details:
This is one of the most common questions we are asked by beginning gardeners – when should I start my seeds? A complicating factor is that it depends on where you are located, but fortunately there is plenty of information on this topic no matter where you are. We have actually created a series of gardening calendars that tell you when to plant your vegetables, flowers, and herbs depending on what region you live in! Another great source of information on this topic is the Cooperative Extension Service. Each state has their own Extension Service run out of their land-grant university, which host incredible amounts of state-specific information on gardening and agriculture.

Here in Arkansas, Natalie and I will start our first seeds indoors in early February for crops like lettuce, kale, broccoli, and tomatoes. In early May we will plant our first seeds outdoors, with peas, radishes, and carrots being some of the first crops we directly seed. The tomatoes we start indoors in February won’t be planted outside until May.

What seeds do I start indoors?

Some plants need a head-start on the growing season, so we plant those in a simple container to keep in a warm, sunny spot in the house. To know if your seeds need to be started indoors, look on the back of your 1canoe2 seed packet or on your Freckled Hen Garden Calendar.

All the details:
Tomatoes, basil, and peppers should be started indoors, while carrots and radishes need to be planted directly in your garden. For crops like lettuce and spinach–you can choose! If you still have questions after looking on your gardening calendar or seed packet, don’t hesitate to ask us a question over at @nataliecreates!

How do I start seeds indoors?

To start seeds indoors you’ll need containers (most gardening stores will have plenty to choose from), potting soil, and a warm sunny spot in the house. To get started, fill the containers with soil, plant the seeds, and water with a light sprinkling of water that wets all of the potting soil. How deep to plant the seeds depends on the type of seed, but you’ll find that information on the back of your seed packet.

All the details:
Starting seeds may seem intimidating, but it is actually pretty simple. All a seed needs is water, warmth and light to grow. As we mentioned earlier, seeds want to grow, and it’s simply a matter of providing the right environment to allow that to happen!

The process of seeds breaking out of their seed coat, sending down roots and sending up shoots is called germination. This stage requires moisture and warmth, which is why watering the seeds after planting is so important. To help the process even more–cover your containers with a clear plastic lid or saran wrap! That clear plastic will trap moisture and heat and keep those seeds moist and warm until they germinate. Just be sure to remove the plastic cover once the seedlings emerge from the soil.

A south-facing windowsill makes a great spot to start your seeds because it gets sunlight most of the day. If you don’t have a good south-facing window, find a spot in the house that gets the most amount of sun exposure. Seedlings need 6-8 hours of sunlight a day to grow into strong, healthy plants.

How much should I water my indoor seedlings?

Keep your seedlings watered but let the soil dry in between watering so that it doesn’t stay soggy.

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Plant roots need a combination of both water and air to stay healthy–the process of the soil drying allows those roots to get oxygen. A great way to check if your seedlings are ready to water is to stick your finger about 2 inches into the soil...if it’s still damp, hold off for just a bit longer. But if the soil you feel is dry, your seeds are ready for another drink!

When do I move the seedlings outdoors?

This is different for every seedling, which is where the Freckled Hen Garden Calendar comes in!  It will tell you when and what to started indoors, when and what to plant outdoors and when to “transplant” – which is what we call the process of moving your indoor starts out into the garden.

All the details:
It takes 4-6 weeks to grow a small seedling like lettuce indoors and 6-8 weeks to grow a larger plant like a tomato or pepper. When you start seeds indoors, the planting should be timed so that the plants are ready to go outside once the weather is warm enough. Luckily, the Freckled Hen Garden Calendar holds all of this information so you don’t have to.

Most plants will be several inches tall and should have at least 4 leaves when they are ready to be planted outside.

How do I get my seedlings ready to plant?

Plants will be shocked if they suddenly go from the warm, comfortable indoors to the cold, windy outdoors so they will need to be acclimated. This process is called “hardening off,” and takes 4-7 days.

All the details:
At the beginning you should only set your plants outside for 1 hour in a spot that is protected from wind. But by slowly exposing the plants to more time outdoors over the course of a week they will become acclimated to the harsh conditions of the outside world. After your plants are hardened off they are ready to be planted in the ground!


Where do I start my garden?

Different plants need different levels of sunlight to thrive. While most all plants will do well in an open location with full sun, not all plants can handle shady locations. If your garden location gets less than 6 hours of direct sunlight per day, try to select vegetables or herbs that can tolerate partial shade. This information will be on the back of your 1canoe2 seed packet.

All the details:
Gardens can be successful in all kinds of locations – from backyards to open fields to containers on a patio. Essential ingredients for a successful garden are good soil, water, and sunlight. Water is a crucial factor and you’ll want to make sure that your garden spot has a hose nearby that you can use to water your plants. Even if you are watering your plants by hand, make sure that water spigot or faucet is close by so your plants do not go without.

Good soil is also important – whether it be potting mix in a container or native soil in your backyard. We’ll spend some time in a future blog post discussing how to get your garden spot ready and build soil fertility or find good potting soil.

The journey begins!

Gardening is a journey and we are all somewhere along the path – some farther ahead than others. For us, the enjoyment comes from constantly learning and growing from our experiences with nature. We are so excited to play a role in your gardening journey and want you to know that we will be here with you every step of the way!

All the best!
Luke & Natalie

The Freckled Hen Collection was created in collaboration with Natalie and Luke Freeman. She's a lifestyle blogger with impeccable taste, he's a horticulturist with expert garden knowledge. Together, we created a collection to help you cultivate meaningful moments in your every day life ✨

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