Most people, at some point or another, have at least considered taking up the hobby of gardening. Those that haven’t usually aren’t aware of the benefits, or have never seen the rewards for themselves. Some don’t even think they have the time or space; don’t write off gardening so quickly. With a few simple tips, best practices ,and ideas you might decide it’s something to try at the very least.
Myth #1 I don’t live in an area where I can grow anything
Poppycock! Things grow just about everywhere on this earth, unless you live in Antarctica (which still has plant life growing such as lichens, mosses, and some fungi). It’s just not a valid excuse. I suggest asking popular nurseries, greenhouses, and experienced gardeners in your area what grows best. Although, it can differ from yard to yard based on factors such as soil type, organic life, previous care, and much more. This will at least get you started.
Myth #2 I have no gardening talent – “the brown thumb syndrome”.
People have been growing things for hundreds of years. The reason some people believe you either have a “green thumb” or you just don’t is because they have not taken the time to research what it really requires to take “ a patch of soil and grass” to a “garden”. Also, they try it one way, don’t get the instant results they so hoped for, and decide it’s just not in their genes. Ever hear the phrase: “there’s more then one way to skin a cat”? Well there are many different gardens out there, each the product of its own formula.
Myth #3 I don’t have the room
Well, I doubt that entirely. At the very least you have a lawn of a town-home, condo, or apartment. Okay, so apartments usually don’t have lawns for their residents to use, but I do know of apartment dwellers with fantastic mini gardens. How, you ask? Simple, containers such as urns, pots, or even vertical planters can be placed in a window sill or on a balcony can produce more than you might think. With all the different types and shapes and sizes out there, there’s really no wrong choice from simple recycled plastic bottles with holes in the bottom to big industrial metal containers. Whatever best suits your needs is my best recommendation, though if your hanging it by a window you may want to rethink it if it’s a clay pot two stories up. Make sure your container has some holes for drainage so you don’t drown the plant. Also, keep in mind that potted plants need more fertilizer and care since mother nature isn’t quite as directly involved. Basically, a garden is really as big as you want it, or as big as YOU make it. So, whatever space you have, you can grow something.
Here’s an example of gardening at it’s simplest:
Myth #4 I don’t have the time
Much like the lack of space myth, the “I don’t have time” excuse is usually exactly that,just an excuse. With a little ‘prep time’ figuring out what you want from your garden and how your going to make it happen you can cut down on a lot of frivolous time (i.e oh i forgot to get fertilizer, i have to go back to the store, well I’ll do it tomorrow…) and enjoy the rewards of your garden sooner. Another reason i believe people accept this excuse is because they see their retired neighbor spending hours a day caring for it. That is also not a good idea to get wrapped up in, due to the fact that depending on what you want from your garden, this usually is entirely unnecessary. Bottom line is you don’t have to be a professional landscaper,what you put in your garden is what you’ll get back. I see no reason not to have a nice little ‘hobby’ garden to spend time in now and then, if that’s all you want it to be.
OK, now that we debunked some popular gardening myths, let’s get into to some other important things on gardening.
Setting up a garden properly
One thing that usually demotivates people much more then it should is that they stick through the first year and they just don’t get the results they expected. Well, I say this should motivate them for next year! Think of it this way: anytime you try something new, you need to learn the basics and practice what you’ve learned. The more you practice, the better you get. Gardening is no different. Each year will get a little better as long as you’re sticking to the basics, and gradually implementing new tips and ideas.
now then lets move on to some things to keep in mind to properly set up a garden
One of the most important things to take care of before buying your plants is to make sure the soil is rich in nutrients and minerals. Some good ideas are to test the soil’s pH level and note if the soil is sandy or clay based. You can purchase a pH test kit from your local nursery or garden center. Before planting it can also be a good idea to stir the soil. This can be done by digging about 12 inches down, and stir or mix it with your hands or a shovel. A lot of times this is referred to as “turning” the soil.
Remember to look into what your shrub life requires from your soil, as well as the space required, as some obviously need more than others. Consider adding organic matter, such as compost, or fertilizer. Make sure your garden is in a place where it will receive at least 6 hours of direct sunlight a day. Some plants like shade and thrive in less sun, so always check and double check the sun requirements of your desired plants.
Now that you’re set up, we can move on to maintenance
Congratulations! You just got started and already you’ve already passed the most daunting tasks. As Newton states in his first law of motion “an object in motion, stays in motion”. With a little time making sure its properly watered, the soil remains healthy, and the neighbor’s dog isn’t tearing it up, you will soon reap the rewards. One final tip is to keep learning about the game of growing.
Future of your garden
Well my friends, that’s about all the time we have for now. I wish to end by saying that the future of your garden is in your hands. Just keep exploring what works for you, be open minded, and above all – have fun!
Special thanks to Maryland’s number #1 landscaper for the article,