The benefits of gardening are enormous. Not only do you get to grow your own fruits and vegetables, but gardening is also a good exercise. It’s also a meditative experience, a great way to connect with your community, and an excellent way to eat seasonally and more mindfully.
Gardening is a popular pastime, but it can be intimidating for beginners, especially if you live in a major city and have limited space. Well rest easy – the following five tips will help even the most novice gardener learn to grow a rich, healthy garden:
1. Grow What You Like!
It’s smart to plant what you like to eat or to look at, and in a quantity that is manageable. Eager to start growing food at home, some people go overboard and plant row upon row of rainbow chard or runner beans only to realize they only eat such things once or twice a year.
TIP: Take a look at your grocery list and make note of all the crops you eat regularly. Choose crops that are easy to preserve, such as pickling cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, or potatoes.
2. Seed-Swap with Friends, Family, and Neighbours
Gardening can be a pricey business for those new to growing their own. Help keep monetary investment low by getting together with fellow gardeners to swap excess seeds. This is especially advantageous if you’re all limited to balcony gardens where you don’t need 20 zucchini seeds or 30 tomato plants.
TIP: Schedule a seedling swap at a later date in case any of you end up with too many sturdy seedlings thanks to a high rate of germination.
3. Choose the Right Plants for Your Space
Having moved house last year, swapping a west-facing, intensely hot balcony for a much smaller, shady courtyard patio, I’ve had to alter my usual growing strategy to match conditions. Instead of growing fruiting plants like tomatoes and peppers outside, I’ve sown a lot of shade-loving salad crops.
TIP: When choosing seeds and seedlings for your garden, think about light, space, and soil type. Read the back of seed packets, the information in a seed catalogue, or locale-specific gardening guide to help choose good seeds for your climate.
4. Set Reminders
Like anything that’s new, it takes a while to fall into the habit of a routine. Set a reminder to make sure you water seedlings regularly, and to plant them at the right time. This will help you keep on gardening.
TIP: Set weeding and harvesting reminders. This will help you plan holiday time when there’s not an abundance of produce that needs picking or preserving.
5. Check Local Listings
Just as seed-swaps can help keep costs down, so can scouring local classified ads for second-hand equipment. You might find planters, tools, gardening mesh or membrane, and other garden goodies at a deep discount. This helps keep your gardening endeavours cost effective, and it also helps keep things out of the landfill!
TIP: Look for local seed swap groups on social media sites, such as Facebook!