"Start modestly and in a way that you can manage it,” Gable said. “If you've never done this before, don't transform a quarter acre.”
She recommends beginning by assessing space you have available for gardening - whether in the backyard, front yard or the corner of a balcony.
“Get to know the space, and watch to see how light moves around," Gabe said.
Most plants need about six hours of direct sunlight a day. Then figure out what kind of soil you're dealing with: Is it dry or rocky? Does it have the consistency of clay? Is there good drainage or does the water often pool? None of these results are “bad” or should dissuade you from planting there, but understanding what you're starting with will inform what you do next.
Gable recommends planting fruits and vegetables that you love to eat.
“For a starting gardener, depending on what your family is most interested in, I always recommend the standards: tomatoes, zucchinis, peppers, carrots, radishes, Swiss chard, eggplants. Those are fun and easy," she said.
If you have kids, Gable recommends including some plants that have a shorter yield time, so they can see the results faster. “Radishes are a really nice place to start,” she said. “They mature really quickly, and it's a fun way for kids to see the fruits of their labor quickly so then they're invested in the plants that take a little longer, like tomatoes.”
The UC Master Gardener Program trains volunteers to extend research-based gardening information to the public. Gable recommends looking up your local UC Master Gardener Program to get accurate information based on local conditions.