Gardening Tips for Beginners with Jerry Holcub of Stam

Around Des Moines, Jerry Holcub is a familiar face. You might have gotten some advice from him at Stam Greenhouse and every Friday you can catch him on Local 5 News Midday for gardening tips. He’s been working with the station for more than 15 years, so we're sure you've gotten more than a few gardening tips from him.


You may have also seen Jerry at the Des Moines Home + Garden Show - he’s been at the show most years since it began. This year, he’ll be back again! To help us get ready, he shared some tips for new gardeners. Read on to get great ideas for your outdoor space, then see Jerry at the Des Moines Home + Garden Show, February 8-11 at the Iowa Events Center.

Use the Space You Have

Even if you only have a small patio for outdoor space, you can still start gardening. Jerry recommends taking advantage of container gardening—using pots and other containers to house your plants. Container gardening can help you maximize your gardening opportunities in limited outdoor space. Jerry even uses the practice himself! “It’s nice for people with busy lives who don’t have time to take care of a large area,” he said.

Make a Plan

When starting a garden, you should plan out what plants you want and where you’d like to put them. Do you want to grow flowers? You could start with herbs. According to Jerry, they’re one of the faster growing plants. A small success in the beginning of your gardening career could motivate you to take on bigger projects. For those with limited space, Jerry recommends trying out dwarf varieties of plants. “Dwarf varieties have smaller root systems, so they can do well in smaller spaces,” he said. Popular plants for dwarf varieties include tomatoes and peppers.

Start with Good Soil

Soil is the foundation of any gardening project. According to Jerry, a good potting soil will always outshine top soil, especially when using containers to garden. Top soil doesn’t drain well and doesn’t have the same nutrients that potting soil has. It can harden and make it difficult for roots to break through the soil. Look for a potting soil that has ingredients like peat, perlite and vermiculite. They can help your plants retain nutrients and water.

Avoid Overwatering
If you think you might be overwatering your plants, you’re not alone. It’s a common problem for new gardeners. “I’ve had thousands of questions asked of me over the years and so many problems are from overwatering,” Jerry said. Too much water in the soil prevents your plant from taking in the oxygen it needs to survive. Avoid drowning your plant and only water when the top of the soil is dry to the touch.

Feed Your Plants

Watering your plants isn’t enough to help them thrive. They need to be fed on a regular basis. If you want to use liquid food, make sure to follow directions for dilution and use it weekly. If you want a little more time between feedings, try slow release or granular formulas will last a month or two. Jerry recommends looking for a food that includes micronutrients. They help with root and stem development.

Start with Healthy Plants

When you’re ready to create your garden, make sure to start with healthy plants. According to Jerry, “You need to look for a quality root system. I pop the plant out to see.” Look for plants with roots that are white or cream colored and that hold the shape of the store’s container. Dark roots indicate an unhealthy plant. If you bring those plants home, they’ll have trouble absorbing water and nutrients.

Catch Jerry at the Stam Greenhouse exhibit during the 2018 Des Moines Home + Garden Show from February 8 – 11. Come prepared with all your gardening questions! Get your tickets now. We can't wait to see you at the show!
Des Moines Home + Garden Show Logo

FEBRUARY 8-11, 2018.

Feb 7, 2018, 23:15 PM