If you’re looking to spend more time outside and grow your own herbs, flowers, fruits and vegetables, then it might be time to start a garden.
It’s a wonderful way to get exercise, relieve stress, develop a new hobby, and most importantly, unplug.
These six simple tips will help you start a garden, whether your space is a half an acre or simply the balcony of your apartment.
1. Find a Location with Sunshine
Flowers and vegetables need at least 6-8 hours of sun a day to bloom. Without enough sunlight, flowers won’t produce, and without flowers, there will be no veggies!
2. Build Your Garden
Select the location for your garden, and start there. If you are placing a garden in the ground, dig out existing grass into the shape of the garden you wish and amend the soil with new, fresh soil loaded with minerals and compost. If you’re wanting to build a vegetable garden, consider building a raised bed.
If your outdoor space is limited to only a few pots on your patio or balcony, first make sure the sunlight requirements are where they should be, and that your pots are large and robust. You’ll also need water dishes or catchers underneath them so they don’t dribble water onto your neighbor’s patio.
3. Provide Access to Water
Assess where your water source comes from and make sure that it’s easy to run a hose from your tap to your garden. This is so important so that after you plant seedlings and during droughts, you have the ability to keep your plants watered.
If you are gardening in an apartment, then purchase a small watering can to fill up at the kitchen sink and bring to your patio. Plants in pots tend to dry out faster than those in the ground, so make sure you check their moisture by placing your finger in one inch below the surface.
If your pots are sitting under a shelter during a rainstorm, then quickly drag them out before the downpour! Plants that live in pots especially love a fresh rainfall.
4. Plant with Fertile Soil
Whether you’re gardening in the ground or in pots, it’s important to assess the quality of your soil. Poor soil can yield disappointing plants, and can be the difference between a plant producing flowers or not.
You can purchase bags of soil that is already rich in minerals, nutrients and compost. Or simply pick up items to amend your in-ground soil such as straw, which is quite affordable, blood and bone, or compost.
The roots are where the plant pulls it’s nutrition from, so you want to make sure it has a good bed to start in. You can also pick up a good quality fertilizer to use once the plants are established. Something made with fish emulsion or seaweed extract is good, too.
5. Gather Tools
If you are gardening on your patio or in your apartment, a little hand trowel and some gloves to protect your hands is all you’ll need.
If you’re gardening in the ground in a larger space, then consider purchasing a shovel, a hoe, and a wheelbarrow. Ask your neighbors or family members if they have tools you can borrow.
6. Experiment and Have Patience
Part of gardening is knowing that some herbs, veggies, and flowers you plant will thrive while others will not. Don’t be discouraged! This is a part of having a garden.
Some plants are annuals and will only last for one season. Other’s will grow stronger and more lush as the years go by, such as natives.
To garden on a budget, consider taking cuttings from your neighbors, or pick up seed packets. Seeds require more patience in getting started, but it’s well worth it when a full bed of herbs can grow over the course of 2-3 years for just a few dollars.
Talk to your local garden nursery worker and find out what is recommended for where you live. Take note that in particular seasons various annuals will thrive better than others, such as pansies and marigolds in the fall, cyclamen in the winter, and daisies and calendulas in the summer.
Depending on whether you wish to grow an edible garden or one simply for color and beauty, you’ll find that overtime you’ll see what you enjoy growing, and will hone in on your favorites.