You wake up as the birds are chirping, you wander out to your garden and you pick some fresh veggies for lunch or dinner. Sound a bit Stepford, doesn’t it? It doesn’t have to be. Gardening is way more forgiving than many people think. Or rather, plants are far more determined not to die, despite how hard you might try to destroy them. They’ve existed this long without evolving communication skills, haven’t they?
If you don’t have a garden yet and you’re looking for some backyard inspo, let’s get down to basics. You don’t need anything fancy at all to get going, so if you’ve been putting off getting your hands dirty, stop procrastinating. You’ll regret putting it off more than you will regret it if things go wrong.
These are the four essentials to begin your gardening journey.
If you’re new to gardening, it is best to start small. Yes, size matters in this case – but it also means you don’t need acres of space to get going. You don’t need an allotment – in fact, you don’t even need soil. Container gardening is a great way to add some backyard inspo or balcony inspo, to any space.
If you’re going to dig up some dirt, around 8x15 or 20x20 is manageable for beginners. Remember that your gardening area should be separated by a fair distance from large and shady trees. Their crawling roots might affect the growth of your precious plants. Use those trees for other things – like shade in your backyard décor.
Sunlight for your garden
A skilled gardener often requires plants or vegetables to have at least six hours of sunlight a day.
Remember all that stuff you were taught in school (or you’re currently teaching small humans as part of their homeschooling) about photosynthesis? In case you forgot and you’re looking to get your backyard inspo fired up - that’s the process in which plants get energy from the light and convert it as food. So make sure you plan your garden accordingly, otherwise, you are quite literally setting up an environment to starve your plants to death. And you’re not a murderer, are you?
Tip: You can buy a Sun Calculator Light Meter; this is a device that measures the extent of sunlight wherever you are.
Water for the plants in your garden
We know this seems like a no brainer, but some of us might prefer living on gin in these stressful times rather than water. Okay, you can’t really live on gin (can you?), so the point is: just like humans need water to survive (and help us plump our skin) plants need it too.
Top tip: Best time to water your plants or garden?
Early morning is best – before the harsh sunlight (if there is such a thing where you live) coms out to play. But if you do not have not much time in the morning, you may do it the late afternoon or evening. You may also provide a soaker hose for your garden. Plants love slow but deep watering. You can also look at contact local farmers/gardeners at your local allotment to see whether they have any equipment you might be able to use.
The right soil for your garden
Soil contains minerals and nutrients necessary for plants, and its primary function is to hold plants’ root. That is why you should consider the type of soil you have in your garden.
The most common soil we all know are clay, sandy, and silt soil. There are also peat, chalk, and loam kinds of soil.
What’s the best? Well, gardeners are always a fan of loamy soil. This one is healthy and contains higher calcium levels and pH balance. But the problem is not everyone has a location with this kind of soil; you don’t have to worry too much. Expert gardeners often suggest having your soil tested before starting your garden; it would be good if you consider what type of soil you already have and what nutrients you need to add.
Improve your garden soil as your side-garden hustle. You can use organic matter that can be found in your kitchen, such as the combination of banana peels/skin, eggshell and coffee grounds. But for best fertilizers, you may contact your local agricultural stores near you… or, you guessed it… your local allotment.
Have a heart and patience
Oh yes, we are going here. Gardening is about so much more than having all the right tools and plotting out the perfect sunny spot. The best part about it s having the heart, patience and passion to care for plants. Not quite the same as raising small humans or a pet, but equally rewarding. Whether you are wanting to grow flowers instead of buying the pre-cut stuff from a shop or looking to plant flowers to help the bees live their best bee lives, the growing process can be a journey of mixed emotion and great rewards.
If you are committing to growing a veggie or herb harden to harvest from seasonably and do your bit for reducing the garden footprint, caring for plants is a special journey.
Be it flowers, vegetables, or herbs, whatever you have in mind, there is a need to have commitment and consistency to ensure their longevity.
Most importantly, be prepared to learn and be prepared to fail. The magic about gardening is that there is always something new to learn. If your ambitious project of growing courgettes all go to hell in a hand cart and they end up rotten, don’t beat yourself up about it. Those failures can be ploughed back into the soil and become part of your next growing experiment. And isn’t that just a perfect metaphor for life about how we keep learning?
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