Now that you’ve decided to set out on this adventure called gardening, let me give you a few words of advice. First, remember that plants grow all by themselves in nature. They really don’t need you. You need them. The reason I bring this up is because whenever I ask someone if they’d like to start a garden, their first response is usually the same. “Oh, I’d love to have a garden, but I have a brown thumb.”
Like I said, plants really don’t need you to grow. Proof-positive: This tomato plant popped up in my garden without my help! So relax. Green thumb not required for this endeavor. The second response usually runs along the line of “I have no time.” Well, I’m here to tell you that gardens don’t require a lot of YOUR time. They simply require water and sunlight. Remember, plants can grow all by themselves. Do you see a pattern, here?
Your biggest decision when it comes to maintaining a garden is location. Should you grow your plants outside in the soil, in containers on the patio, or in hydroponic towers? Would you prefer a sprawling garden across your lawn, or perhaps one more vertical in nature? Answer these questions, and then you can begin to address the pitfalls.
Live Your Garden
What do I mean by “live your garden?” Simple. Incorporate the pleasure of gardening into your everyday lifestyle. Consider me. I’m a morning person. I love my coffee and I love the sounds of birds chirping away as sunlight breaks over the horizon. To me, there’s nothing more relaxing then a stroll through my garden, coffee in hand, as I gaze over the beautiful beds of green. While I’m there, I might pinch a tomato sucker, pull a spotted leaf from a potato plant, or pluck a pesky little caterpillar from a stem, should I spot one.
Nothing arduous, nothing time-consuming. Simply a pleasant stroll through my garden where tasks are easily managed. No sweat, no stress. No putting off the grueling garden chores that have piled up and await me. Instead, I “live my garden” by visiting every day. Even the occasional weed is no trouble when it’s only one, here and there. You see, a garden is no-fuss when it becomes an enjoyable part of your schedule. Not a bad place for meditation, either!
Grow What You’ll Eat
When your garden hits full splendor, you’ll adore every minute spent among the fruits and leaves while you’re living your garden—unless they’re rotting on the vine. Yuck. Not the place you want to be. There’s no bigger turn-off than the sight of gaping holes in your fruit beset with worms or buzzing flies. Granted, harvest is usually the time everyone wants to be in the garden. But if no one wants to harvest what’s in season?
Fruit will rot. Broccoli will bolt. Weeds will accumulate. You get the picture and it’s not pretty. It’s a quick way to ruin the thrill of gardening, if you ask me, so be prudent during the seed selection process. Choose to grow only what you or your family will eat. Sure, it’s a lot of fun to grow zucchini. It’s super easy! But can you eat it all? Do you have the space to freeze it? If not, you’ll quickly find your friends and neighbors rolling up their car windows and closing their curtains when they see you approach. “No more zucchini, please. We can’t eat another bite!”
Get Down and Dirty
“It’s all about the soil.” You’ve probably heard this before, perhaps even been advised to have your soil tested for pH and the like. I don’t know about you, but chemistry isn’t my strong suit. Test my soil? Amend it for the proper balance of pH and nutrients? Sounds a bit too complicated. I just wanted to garden, not become a scientific expert on dirt.
Good news! You don’t have to be an expert on soil. You simply need to know that healthy soil means healthy plants. What defines healthy soil? Organic matter, or what I call, compost. Yep. Basically, it’s plant and animal matter in varying stages of decomposition and let me tell you, my compost pile is amazing when it comes to growing plants. Why, all I do is toss in a few vegetable scraps, seeds attached, and poof. Germination. Abundant green growth. And I don’t even have to water! Great soil retains water and feeds the plants. Win-win. Don’t have a compost pile? No worries. Until you do, you can purchase any combination of organic compost, mushroom compost, composted cow and worm manure, peat moss and your plants will thank you.
Now that it’s spring, go ahead and start that garden you’ve always wanted. This time, you will succeed.