Some plants, such as pansies and kale, tolerate cold, so you can plant them in autumn or late winter. Tomatoes and most annual flowers, on the other hand, are touchy about cold, so don’t plant them until the danger of frost has passed in your area. Midspring and midautumn are good times to plant perennial flowers.

Some plants, such as lettuce and sunflowers, are easy to grow from seed. You can sow them directly in the garden. Be sure to read the seed packet for information about when to plant, how deep to plant, and how far apart to plant the seeds. If you’re an adventurous beginner, you can get a head start on the growing season by sowing seeds indoors before the last frost date. You can buy containers or flats designed especially for seedlings, as well as seed-starting soil mixes (available at garden centers). Follow seed-packet instructions, and place the containers on a sunny windowsill or under artificial lights if you don’t have window space. Be sure to keep the seeds and seedlings moist but not wet (or they may rot).

An easier method is to buy young plants, called set plants or transplants. Just dig a hole and plunk them in the ground.