As the snow melts it's my goal to get a garden up and running this spring. My H and I have two raised beds that are 5' by 5' and a ground level plot that is fenced in with chickenwire that is about 8' by 8' in our backyard. I definitely want to try to make the most of these and start a thriving garden but I've never gardened before. All three beds will get adequate sunlight but not always direct due to large trees we have. We also tend to have a good amount of bugs and squirrels in or backyard during the warmer seasons. I'd also like to spruce up our curb appeal by adding some flowers to the front of our house. My questions are:
1. What are some good herbs/vegetable plants to start with for a newbie gardener?
2. Are seeds or transplants better to start?
3. How should I condition my current "dirt" patches to give my plants the best shot at thriving? Looking for soil and tilling recommendations.
Thanks so much for any advice!