Before We Begin

Let's take a moment to look at what you will need for your garden. In normal times, we would wait until a bit later in the course before worrying about gathering supplies. But these times are not normal. Gardening and other home arts have suddenly exploded, and some of these items might take some time to track down.

Unfortunately garden supply stores are closed in many places. However, hardware stores are considered "essential" and are still open everywhere as far as I know. Most carry a decent selection of garden supplies, and many are offering curbside pick-up. If you pay ahead of time (through their website or by phone) and then leave the items in the back of your car to quarantine for a week, you risk no more exposure than ordering online. There has never been a more important time to support local businesses.

Must Have Gardening Supplies:

  • Seeds
  • Fertilizer
  • Compost
  • Shovel or Garden Fork
  • Hose Nozzle
  • Seed Catalog


The best bet for securing seeds during this strange time is your local hardware store. The selection is probably very limited, but you can have it in your hand tomorrow.

All of my favorite online seed companies are currently not taking new orders as they catch up on the flood of demand. There are a few exceptions at the time of writing, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds is my top pick among them. Burpee, Harris and Park Seed are all shipping as well. Expect a delay of 1-3 weeks if you order seeds online.

Don't go crazy, just pick 5-10 crops you love to eat. Lettuce, chard, radishes, peas, green beans and tomatoes are all pretty reliable in most climates, but add or subtract from that list based on what your household likes. Don't think too hard about varieties, just pick whatever is not sold out and get that order submitted.

Soil Amendments

You will need to feed your soil to grow great plants. There is a bewildering array of fertilizers on the market. But, just look for a basic vegetable fertilizer with the words "complete" or "balanced." Get 1-5 lbs. Of course, I recommend organic, but I'm not going to peek into your cart.

You will also need compost, and again, there are lots of options but any of them will work for now. Just bear in mind that you really do get what you pay for. Get at least one bag of compost. More if you are hoping to start big.

Shovel or Garden Fork

Ideally you would have both of these indispensable garden tools. But if you just have one, and don't want to or can't get the other, we can make it work.

Hose Nozzle

Make sure that it has a "shower" setting that will not knock your newly planted seeds around. A watering can works just as well if it has a "rose" to turn the stream of water into a fine shower.

Regional Seed Catalog

A good regional seed catalog is not just for ordering from (although they likely offer a selection of vegetables tailored to your area) the best ones are full of basic gardening info appropriate to your region, and make excellent reference guides. They'll have growing information for each crop, such as seed depth and spacing, and may even offer a planting calendar for your area.

I have no idea how long it will take your seed catalog to get shipped, could be awhile. But go ahead and order now, you'll be glad someday.

Northwest - Territorial Seed

Northeast - Johnny's Seeds

California - West Coast Seeds

Southeast and Mid-Atlantic - Southern Exposure

Midwest - Seed Saver's Exchange

There are lots more items that make gardening easier, and towards the end of the course, we'll explore ways to expand. But for now, this simple list will get you going!

Complete and Continue