5 Worst Plants for Your First Garden
Welcome to Thrifty. A weekly column where assistant nutrition editor and registered dietitian, Jessica Ball, keeps it real on how to grocery shop on a budget, make healthy meals for one or two, and make earth-friendly choices without overhauling your entire life.
Gardening is one of my favorite hobbies, and even if you're a beginner you can find success (here are some of the easiest things to grow). That being said, it can be intimidating to get into if you are just starting out. I have definitely taken my lumps and learned a lot over the years (here is more on the things I wish I knew before starting my first garden). It can be tempting to try and grow something super unique, especially if it's a food you love. However, it is important to do your research because not all plants are beginner-friendly to grow. Here are five of the worst plants to try and grow in your first garden.
Unless you live in the Tuscan countryside, this is probably a no-go for your backyard garden. Vines for grapes can take years to establish, even if you aren't planning on using them to make fine wines. They also need a fair amount of space. Plus, grape vines take expert care and only thrive in very specific conditions. I love grapes, too, especially in the summer if they are frozen (or if they are fermented into say, a glass of rosé ), but these are probably better to get from the grocery store.
I need to clarify this one: it is totally doable (and a lot of fun) to try out growing citrus inside with a grow light, though they do take some attention and know-how. That said, unless you live somewhere tropical or in Southern California, lemons, limes and oranges will probably not pop up in your backyard garden. The season for citrus is from December to March, which is during some of the coldest weather for many states. Skip the citrus outside, but maybe try an indoor plant if you are curious.
You may be feeling inspired after seeing the TikTok hack that shows how "easy" it is to grow an avocado plant from a pit. Don't be fooled, these plants will not be bearing fruit any time soon. In fact, it may take 10 to 15 years for your plant to produce any fruit. If you can keep it alive inside that long, more power to you. But it is probably not worth a space in your garden (unless of course, you live in Southern California and have a yard).
Mint is a relatively easy herb to grow and it is so versatile to cook with, from Mint Vinaigrette to a Classic Mint Julep. However, the issue with mint is that it is what's called an "aggressive grower". This means it will spread around basically every inch of open soil and take over your garden, sometimes killing neighboring plants. A classic beginner mistake would be to plant mint close to your other plants and then have the mint takeover. If you want to grow some mint, plant it in its own pot to keep it contained, rather than putting it in the ground.
Corn is one of the most widely grown crops in the United States, so it'd be perfect for your garden, right? Unfortunately, wrong. Corn is wind pollinated, so it needs to be planted in blocks (read: 20 or more plants in a cluster). Unless you have a farm-sized garden plot, it probably does not make sense to grow. Plus, solo plants are not likely to grow any edible fruit and can get knocked down from extreme weather. Better to just get it fresh from the grocery store or local farm stand.
I love gardening, and it is a great hobby to take up as the weather warms. It can help you save money and learn more about your food so you can appreciate all the work that goes into that tomato or cucumber. However, not all seeds grow the same. These fruits, veggies and herbs are great for you, but it is probably worth picking them up at the grocery store or farmers market, rather than trying to grow them yourself.