In honor of Stardew Valley’s 1.1 patch, I’m going to break down a few spoiler-free tips for beginners. As a die-hard Harvest Moon fan, I love Stardew Valley and have replayed it several times. Here’s what I’ve learned for starters.
1 – Don’t Cut your Grass… Yet.
My favorite part of Harvest Moon is clearing the field and making an old, run-down farm look awesome. In Stardew Valley, the starting field is the same, covered in rocks, trees, branches, weeds, and tall grass. Though it is cathartic to mow down a field full of tall grass, I insist you resist. Before Spring is up, you should be able to get into the mine and have a few copper bars smelted.* Take 5 copper bars, 10 clay, 100 stone, and 100 gold to Robin’s Carpentry Shop and have her build a silo on your farm. In my games, I make two.
With a silo, tall grass will often turn to hay once cut and is stored in your silo for animal feed. Starting this in Spring ensures you have plenty for the winter without needing to buy additional stock from Marnie.
2 – Beach Bridge First
The first priority in a new game should be the broken bridge on the beach. Chop trees until you get 300 wood to repair it. The other side is a quick cash source, often stocked with foraging items like coral and sea urchins. Sea urchins alone sell for at least 160g a piece depending on their star rating.
3 – Get your Ducks… Err, Trees in a Row
As soon as you can, figure out where you want trees to go. There are three types to consider: pine (cones), maple (yellow seeds), and oak (acorns). These trees take 10-12 days to grow, so the sooner these are placed, the better.
Tappers are often unlocked in the first Spring*, so have your trees ready to go by then. Once fully grown, tappers can be placed on the trees to yield various resins. Maple trees produce maple syrup, pine trees produce pine tar, and oak trees produce oak resin. Each of these is used for specific crafting recipes. Maple syrup is used for beehives, the best early-game income source. Plant flowers near your beehives to further increase those profits.
Before Fall is over, kegs will become available and require oak resin.* Save your hops, wheat, wild honey, and coffee beans from the Summer harvest to create pale ale (10x+ profit), beer (10x+ profit), mead (2x+ profit), and coffee (5x+ profit). If you’ve saved any fruit, make it into wine to triple the selling price.
Beer, coffee, and wine make great villager gifts.
4 – Energy Management
Early in the game, use every drop of energy you have. If farming doesn’t drain you completely, use the rest to chop trees for lumber, scour floors in the mine, or go fishing. It might seem like having over 1,000 pieces of lumber is too much, but you’ll need it eventually. Also, pack snacks like cave carrots, field snacks, or salmonberries when you have just a few more axe swings to finish the tree and you’re already exhausted.
Don’t be afraid to buy food at the pub. Keeping a stack of salads on hand will come in handy when you have a room full of gold ore to mine and you’re running on empty, or you’re at a 4 or 9 floor looking for that final rock. Food also refills health if you’ve had a bad run-in with flying insects.
You do not want to collapse outside or in the mine. You’ll either pay a hefty doctor bill or have a few items come up missing. If you black out in the mine, you’ll forget discovered floors and lose half of your carried items.
5 – Sword & Scythe
An easy way to conserve energy is to keep your sword or scythe equipped until you need to use something else. If you accidentally use any other tool, you will consume energy, whether you hit anything or not. The only tools that don’t consume energy are the sword and scythe. You should never break barrels or crates in the mine with your pick-axe when the sword is more efficient and costs zero energy.
6 – Worms
I learned this information way too late in my first play-through and wondered why I wasn’t finding a lot for the museum collection. When you see three lines on the ground with bent tops, like little worms poking out of the ground, use your hoe to dig. These can be anywhere you walk, so keep your eyes peeled.
7 – Save One and Five
The rule-of-thumb in Stardew Valley is to save one of each item and at least five of each crop, especially if they are gold stars. All kinds of items are used in the bundles at the Community Center, and it sucks for a season to turn over and you realize that you sold all of an item without submitting one. You’ll have to wait a full year to make it up. Crops are also used in villager requests, the Valley Fair, and cooking recipes, so it’s worthwhile to save them.
8 – Crop Advice
1. Use scarecrows to keep crows from eating your hard work at night.
2. Trellis crops (grapes, hops, beans etc.) that grow on poles or trellises cannot be walked through once planted. These are best planted in lines or surrounding an 8-square sprinkler. All trellis crops produce continually until destroyed, so planting interior crops is unwise.
3. It is worth it to plant as many melons (Summer) and pumpkins (Fall) as you can afford and plant them with fertilizer. By season’s end, you will make a lot of money and more than likely have your five gold-star crops for the Community Center.
Important note: Unlike Harvest Moon games, months/seasons are not 30 days in Stardew Valley. Each month is 4 weeks, so the last day of the month is the 28th. Be careful of your crops’ growth cycles, and be sure they mature before the season ends.
9 – Cart your Community Center Completion
There are very few things I hate in this game, one of which is fishing. That’s quite a problem when fishing is required for completing the Community Center. Thankfully, there is a way.
The Travelling Cart appears on Fridays and Sundays. Travel south from your farm and head west along the tree line. Not only can you buy fish, but you can also buy other items for completing the Community Center. I also found it helpful with the Artisan and Animal bundles needed to unlock the greenhouse.
It’s also worth checking every time it arrives for rare seeds, coffee beans, rarecrows, and lots of other useful items.
10 – Greenhouse
The greenhouse in any Harvest Moon game is a godsend. It allows you to grow any crop out of season and is the best source of income in winter when you can’t grow crops outside. I touched on this in a few points above, but the greenhouse is possible to unlock before Winter of year one.
Plant mass-quantities of parsnips (Spring), melons (Summer), and pumpkins (Fall) with fertilizer. Use those profits to plant apples and pomegranates. I’d suggest oranges and peaches, too, but other things take cash priority in Spring and early Summer so they won’t grow in time. Picking the fruit bats for the cave instead of the mushrooms will net you some of the other fruit instead.
Build a chicken coop and barn and get the second expansion of the barn to unlock goats. Anything else you might need (like duck eggs, brown eggs, or goat’s milk), keep an eye on the traveling cart.
Once the greenhouse is up, grab those strawberry seeds that you purchased from the Egg Festival, and watch your money grow. Or if you’re lucky enough to have a seed maker and star fruit seeds, you’ll be filthy rich in no time.
*Timing of unlocked recipes and events may vary based on game-play.