Have you ever been in the wrong place, at the wrong time, and, in blissful ignorance, fully intended to stay?
You may be a weed.
If you think you’re not a weed and want to be sure, continue reading this post. Weeds don’t read blog posts. Especially not about gardening. Those usually involve pulling weeds.
How to Start a Garden
Whether you’ve never done work around a garden, or if you’ve maintained one for most of your life, chances are, at some point, you’ve gone to Google and typed, “How to Start a Garden.”
You’d come up with a bunch of articles, video tutorials, and a slew of social media posts. Gardening has – wait for it – bloomed during the pandemic. In 2021, the National Gardening Association documented 18.3 million new gardeners.
If you’re thinking about earning your gardener stripes, you might find the following helpful.
7 Things to Consider Before Starting a Garden
1. What Garden Are You Growing?
Cannabis? Don’t knock it; tolerance for this controversial plant has been growing. There are now more states where cannabis is legal than illegal, and from a demographic standpoint, 18-44 year-olds say they would grow their own marijuana if it was legal.
But before you get too excited, let’s get that question answered. If you’re starting a garden, what garden would it be? Would it be a kitchen garden? For beginners, a kitchen garden is an area where fruits, vegetables, and herbs are grown for home use. You can have more than one kind of garden, of course, but if you’re just getting started, it may be better to focus on one.
Your choice has to make good sense for your area and environment. If you have neighbors who have kitchen gardens of their own, you may want to get their insight into what produce grew well and what didn’t.
2. Choose the Right Area
So you’ve decided on the garden you want, where are you going to put it? There are some things you have to consider when choosing a location. For instance, a vegetable garden will need at least 5 hours of direct sunlight a day. Experienced gardeners would also tell you to test for soil acidity. Beginners may want to check their soil by digging a little; if the soil is rich and black, that’s a strong sign that it’s good for gardening. Rocky, sandy, or soil with a clay-like texture may not be so optimum.
But don’t give up if your soil isn’t so good. You can always have container gardens or plant in raised beds.
Consider ease of access, especially to water. You’ll be spending a lot of time in your garden, so it’s best if a water source is within reach.
Sidenote: Avoid areas where children often play and where pets tend to hang out. No matter how well you tend your garden and how often you spend time there, there will be some point where you’re not around. And then someone’s precocious toddler (maybe even yours), with a faithful pet companion (also yours), will get to work uprooting everything you’ve spent hours planting.
3. Start Small
This is probably something most people do without thinking about it too much. A lot of people who are interested in gardening may not have ample space to work in, so starting and keeping a small garden is practical.
Starting small is great because it gives you time to observe how your new plants are thriving. You get to learn as you go along. There are also less resources that you need to invest, such as less water, fertilizer, and maintenance while you’re still learning.
Starting a garden small also allows you to plan out the rest of your garden at the same time that you’re beginning.
4. Understand Different Planting Techniques
Hold up! Unroll your eyes, gardener. This isn’t as cut and dry as you first thought. Plants are diverse and the planting technique that works for one plant may just kill another. If you’re not sure how to plant a particular specimen, ask someone who does, read up on it, or just look it up online.
In general, seeds need to be planted at a depth two to three times their width. You can also go by what the seed packets say; they’re usually reliable. But these are just general rules. Get to know the right depth for sowing, because depth is essential for your seeds to germinate.
5. No Pests Allowed!
Gardens are like the most happening club in town–every pest wants to get in with their friends. For the most part, pests like insects are harmless. Birds do a good job of keeping their numbers in check. But infestation can and does happen, and you want to keep your eye on that.
Insects are just one type of pest, but they’re the easiest to spot, along with weeds (which could look identical to some of your plants).
There are some common signs of such infestation that you need to pay attention to before they get worse: chewed leaves, wilting of shoots, spotting on leaves, and the presence of the insectile or weedy culprits. Join active forums and online groups for gardeners so you can learn tips on identifying and preventing infestations. You may then want to decide between organic pesticides or chemical ones.
Here’s a video from Self Sufficient Me that discusses organic ways to get rid of pests.
6. Use Compost
Ah, compost. What a breath of fresh air this natural method has been for gardening. Just mix a lot of organic waste material together and let them rot. This delightful mixture is an all-purpose bag of goodness: efficient, inexpensive, and it enriches the soil. It’s like a vitamin for your garden.
There are several different methods for composting. Here’s something from Huw Richards that promises an easy, “lazy” composting method that’s great for beginners.
7. Get Wild about Wildlife
Do you like animals? If the first representations that pop into your head is your adorable dog, Buddy, or that loveable jerk of a cat your spouse worships, then you would probably say yes. But what about wildlife? Just how crazy are you about those slimy frogs or those rats that seem to think your garden is their park or those smug hedgehogs–no, wait. Hedgehogs are actually quite good for a garden, to a certain extent.
In fact, many wildlife that roam around your garden provide a valuable service. Birds eat insects, keeping their numbers manageable. Bees and butterflies pollinate your crops. Hedgehogs, too, eat pests.
However, too much wildlife can still be bad for your garden. Hedgehogs are still considered pests in some parts of the world. But there are ways for you to protect your garden from them without harming your pets’ wilder cousins.
Consider installing a fence around your garden, or do your research and find out what plants are repellant (not toxic!) to certain animals. The important thing is to maintain a fine balance between your garden and its natural environment.
From our friend @amateurbot.ann.ist
A Kernel of an Idea
Gardening is now more than a hobby; it’s a sustainable way of life, and it’s little wonder considering all the health benefits it offers. It’s a great way to get some outdoor exercise, it reduces stress, can help you be more self-sufficient, and is a fun way to introduce children to the great outdoors.
Aside from all that, though, there’s something quite restorative about puttering around in a garden. Maybe it’s just the companionship of other natural, living things. It reminds us there’s a lot more to life than burn out and the latest depressing news. Maybe because, somehow, even without being consciously aware of it, we marvel at the miracle of a tiny seed sprouting into something that lives, grows, and gives.
Or maybe all that is just romantic nonsense and you prefer something more practical. A garden’s got that in spades too: a garden is hard work, but work it right and you get something pretty that you can brag about and that produces something delicious and is actually good for you. You can even make pocket money selling your veggies, fruits, and flowers. You can get creative with what you grow and make soap, candles, tea and run a side hustle out of those too.
And this may be one very encouraging statistic, especially for parents out there: a 2009 study found that gardening had a positive effect on children’s attitude toward vegetables. They’re more willing to eat the veggies they’ve helped to grow and are also more willing to taste a variety of other veggies. That’s starting ’em young on healthy eating right there.