I fully believe that gardening is good for the soul. It is difficult to explain but there is something about the combination of sun, water, fresh air, getting a little dirty, and seeing life grow that calms me. From seeing a single potted plant come to life or tending to a larger garden, I think you will feel it too.
During WWI and WWII, women at home were growing what they called “Victory Gardens” in their backyards to combat the food shortage. Victory Gardens sprang back to life during this last year of the pandemic. Creating a vegetable or flower garden does not have to be hard or even really hard work. You can choose how much you want to commit to it but I believe wholeheartedly that from potted plants to larger gardens, you will realize that gardening is good for the soul.
If you have never had a garden before or have a self-proclaimed “black thumb” then I would start small. Try keeping a pretty flower or your favorite vegetable alive in a pot. Take into consideration the following tips when first starting your gardening:
Find the Most Sun
Take a look at your yard, porch, or wherever it is you would like to grow something! Look for the areas that get the most sunlight. Ideally, the area will get at least 6 hours of sunlight daily. If you do not have an area that gets sun then you may have to choose shade-loving plants or opt for a grow light. Grow lights may be pushing it for beginning gardeners though. Do your research.
Check for Easy Access Water
When choosing where you will have your garden, think about where the closest water source is. Do you have a hose that can stretch all the way to your garden? If not are you willing to purchase one or purchase a watering can and then carry that can over to water your plants?
Decide on Digging or Container Gardening
Once you have chosen the area with the best sunlight you need to consider the land. Do you have dirt that you could plant in or is the area covered in concrete and more suited for potted plants? If the dirt area is poor soil (more on that in the next section) then you could choose to do a raised bed. A raised garden bed is an area constructed to hold soil above the land. You will fill dirt in and plant there rather than the earth below it. If you choose containers be sure to choose pots that have holes in the bottom for drainage or plastic/foam pots that you could drill a hole into. Otherwise, they will fill up with water and drown your plants.
Design your Dirt
Whether you are digging into the earth to plant, doing a raised garden bed, or choosing to grow in containers, proper soil is everything! The best general plant soil is a combination of 3 main things. A garden soil, peat soil, and a nutrient- usually about a third of each. I like to use a garden mix bag (you could just use this alone starting out) mixed with peat soil, and some earthworm castings (aka earthworm poop!) You do not have to be that fancy when beginning but having nutrient-rich soil that drains well can make a huge difference in your plants!
Choose the Plants
What do you want to grow? What is your purpose behind your garden? Beauty? Veggies to snack on? Think about what you would like to grow and then research those plants.
You will want to know what plant hardiness zone you are located in and you can find that out here. Knowing your zone will help you choose the correct plants. You don’t want to choose a tropical plant and try to make it live in a cooler springtime climate.
You will also want to pay attention to the amount of sunlight your plant will need especially if you are choosing flowers. Each plant is designated Full sun, part sun, part shade, or shade loving.
I highly recommend stopping by a local nursery to chat with them when choosing your plants. Knowing what sun you have available beforehand will be a huge help in choosing the right plants.
Get To Work!
You can plant a flower bed in a day but it takes time to make a garden. Designate a day to set up your garden and get plants in the ground. Then be sure to monitor how much rainwater they get and plan to water them as needed. You will be amazed at how quickly your plants flourish (or die if you don’t take care of them!!)
Enjoy Your Garden
Now that you have the “groundwork” completed (pun intended) it is time to enjoy your garden! There is something about the fresh air, sunlight, even getting a little dirty that resets my mind, body, and soul. Grab a chair and sit outside in the beauty of spring and enjoy your handiwork!