“You have to start growing things that way.”

Brown thumb, rejoice: Colin (@saltyacresnc) is here to help struggling gardeners find success with some helpful tips. In a recent Instagram video, he teaches you how to avoid two of the biggest mistakes new gardeners often make.


According to Colleen, who runs Salty Acres plant nursery in North Carolina, two main problems new gardeners face are lack of water and poor soil management.

To avoid drowning underwater, he suggests that gardeners first start growing their plants in self-absorbing containers that provide a constant source of water. He shows how to set up these containers in a separate video using a large plastic tub, some plastic pipes, and an empty milk jug. These containers self-regulate the amount of water they take in so that your plants are never over- or under-watered.

As for poor soil management, he recommends a mixture of compost, peat moss, and pine bark mulch. This mixture provides the essential nutrients plants need, such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, while allowing room for roots to grow easily.

For those who prefer not to use livestock manure, there are plenty of alternatives, such as mushroom compost or worm castings.

“You have to start growing things this way first, so you can graduate and grow things another way,” Colin says.

How it helps

Colleen’s self-absorbing containers keep plants hydrated even if novice gardeners forget to water them or aren’t sure when to do so. Growing plants, both edible and ornamental, can save you money while beautifying your garden and providing food with better nutrition and taste.

Caring for plants also provides opportunities to learn about and connect with nature, which has been shown to reduce stress. Growing food at home benefits the environment by reducing harmful pollution from transporting produce and does not require any dangerous chemicals or pesticides. Adding native flowers and other plants to your garden also supports vital pollinators like bees and butterflies that play a crucial role in our food system.

What everyone says

“This is golden knowledge,” one commenter responded to Colleen’s advice.

Another agreed: “You’re right, the best thing you can do is start farming. I’ve found it’s trial and error, watching videos for tips.

Encouraged by the easy-to-follow advice, another commenter was ready to get started, posting: “With a few supplies, I might as well have a green thumb.”

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