Growing a garden can be a most rewarding pastime. Whether you are a homeowner, a tenant or a lover of beautifying public spaces, watching green things bloom never gets old.
It is one mystery most of us are happy to observe our whole lives through.
Plants can be very sensitive, and much like people, require different environments and situations to survive and thrive.
Gardening is also one of the most therapeutic activities ever. In fact, the psychological benefits of horticulture include a sense of connection, self-esteem, less anxiety, and a healthy emotional release.
If you’ve never gardened before, there is no time like the present. There are a few basic gardening tips and tricks that can help you become a better grower.
Here are six easy ways to get your hands dirty:
1. From Black Thumbs to Green Ones
Do you love the idea of being able to take care of your own garden, but it seems every time you start one everything dies?
The curse of the dreaded black thumb is all part of the process. Nobody starts off as an expert gardener.
It takes practice, patience and experimentation to learn about your own personal ecosystem. Put those gardening gloves on and get planting, but take note of all the lessons along the way.
On this interesting journey, you will learn about your garden, the plants, the seasons, the soil, the insects, the water systems, and the light-dark relationship to growth.
2. Location, Location, Location
Like starting your own business, creating a thriving garden has much to do with where you put it. Look for somewhere that regularly will meet your gaze when you move in and around your house.
A good garden needs plenty of attention, so if it is out of sight, it may be easily forgotten.
Be sure to find a location that gets a good balance of sunlight and shade, too.
You will learn as you go along that some plants need more than others, but a little of both is usually healthier.
3. Good Soil, Better Soil
A garden is highly dependent on the nutrients the plants can access from the ground. If you do not have good soil where you live, it is a good idea to invest in some by buying (or composting) decent topsoil and making use of nitrogen-rich compost to layer the garden beds.
Healthy soil is full of good nutrients like nitrogen, potassium, sulfur, magnesium, and calcium, to name a few.
If you do not have the chemistry skills, the gardening section at your local store or the experts at your local nursery will be happy to advise you on the right choice.
Note that not every garden has the same elements and you should take note of which plants grow well in your type of soil (some types are sand, clay or silt, for example).
4. Be Water Wise
Overwatering is probably the top rookie mistake for new gardeners, whether they are gardening in the city or in the country.
We tend to think plants need water and sun in abundance, but many are actually better-suited to only a little of both.
Plants are made to thrive in seasons and out, so they adapt to spurts of rain, occasional sun, and fluctuating temperatures.
It is not always a case of the more sun and water, the better. Plants can overindulge just like people can.
It is possible for humans to consume too many kale shakes, no matter how healthy it may seem.
- Observe how your plants are looking and you will start to learn how to balance hydration and light a little better through the seasons.
- Pay attention to drainage, morning or afternoon sunshine angles, and wind factors for each spot in the garden.
5. Know Your Zone
When to plant is equally as important as where you plant. If you aren’t growing indoors in a controlled environment, your plants will be at the mercy of the elements.
Educate yourself about the zone in which you live to optimise your chances of success in the garden.
Each area of the world is assigned a different “zone” in which different climate features to determine what plants can be grown, and when they should be planted.
Learning which zone applies to your area is a good start to having a successful growth cycle. In time, the cycle will become second nature to you and you will know your planting seasons inside and out.
6. Ignore Conventions
Lastly, don’t worry about conventional methods when creative methods work just as well. Try stuff. Some will work and some won’t, no matter how ‘correctly’ you garden or how much advice you follow from the experts.
If you want to take out seedlings with a spoon instead of a spade, then do it.
If you want to use yoghurt containers as seedling starters (to grow from seed to seedlings until the plants are big enough to replant), then do it – what a great way to recycle plastic!
It will soon become apparent what works and what doesn’t so do it anyway.
As long as it grows, anything goes!
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for freshness and consistency.