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How to Start a Garden

Updated: Jun 1, 2023

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What better way to spend time with your family than starting a garden together? As a kid, my parents kept a small garden but it was nothing like what my grandparents or great-grand had. The garden grown at my parents was small and we only got a small portion of vegetables from it. They quit doing it as I got older because it was difficult for them to maintain with all the different things my siblings and I were involved in.

The memories I have of my great-grandparent’s garden though are some I hope to one day bring to life in my own area. I loved running through their garden when I was young and seeing all the different plants grow over the year. My favorite thing was playing under the arbor created by various crawling plants. It was so much fun watching nature around me from within that little forest-like cave.


They had several acres of land dedicated to gardens with rows upon rows of vegetables. They canned and knew how to preserve food. The fresh ingredients made a huge difference in their food. They even had rabbit cages that were empty but told me stories of raising rabbits for food as well as free-range chickens. They were very sustainable and knew how to make a lot of things from scratch. My Nanny, my great-grandmother, even taught my sister and me how to sew. It would do us all some good to learn how to live off the land and provide for ourselves like they did even if we don’t need to. You never know when the knowledge can come in handy.

My garden now is nothing like what they had since I live in a neighborhood with a small backyard, but we still have quite a mix of wildlife that comes through. We do the best with what we have and utilize as much space for gardening and wildlife as possible. From flowers to fruit trees, you can find a bit of everything growing in my backyard.


Several reasons I chose to start a garden include growing my own food to cut back on some costs, educate my son, for my mental health, and to provide pollinators pesticide-free areas to inhabit. All these reasons have tons of benefits tied to them. I share a few in the following paragraphs.


Decreasing the amount my family spends on food has made a significant impact on things, especially with the way inflation is as I write this post in 2023. I’ve always been a frugal person but now that I’m working from home as an author, freelancer, and homeschooling my son, saving where I can has more priority, not that it didn’t before. We’ve cut down our grocery bill by at least $100 every trip. I’ve learned to can and preserve food, making it last through the winter, which helps as well.


Gardening also gives me the opportunity to teach my son how to grow food from seed and learn the life cycles of plants, pollinators, soil conservation, and so much more. It brings joy to my family to see the plants grow and change over time. The fruits and veggies we grow also taste so much better than store-bought produce. For example, if you’ve ever purchased a tomato from a farmers’ market, you’ll see that the red color is consistent throughout while store-bought tends to be lighter. They are also ten times more flavorful than the store ones and tend to last longer.


Getting outside to work on weeding, watering, and just checking on plants, in general, has been a major boost for my mental health. Getting that vitamin D from the sun and feeling the earth between my fingers as I sit in the garden is magical. My focus has been better on top of struggling less with anxiety and depression. Watching the various wildlife while sitting there is special as well. It gives me a safe place to ground myself and immerse myself in nature without traveling far.


We don’t use pesticides or weed killer on our lawn and encourage bees and other pollinators to visit. We even have a spot strictly for wildflowers for them that we plant every year. Pollinators are extremely important in that without them we won’t survive. They are the reason plants grow. I encourage you, reader, to ditch the pesticides and weed killers to grow native plants in your yard. You can find safer options to get rid of weeds by scrolling through Pinterest. Give those creatures somewhere safe to eat.


If you’re interested in starting a garden and have nowhere to start, check out some of these ideas. You can grow a small garden even if you live in an apartment! There are even online classes and eBooks available to get you started. Don’t be intimidated by the idea of a big garden, just start small.


Starting a garden


Indoor gardening can be a lot of fun. I typically start plants early by growing them inside. A few items you may need are a grow light, a container that drains well, a place to put the container, and a method to water the garden. A sunny window can also be used for this if you have that option and space on the balcony too.


Herbs are some of the easiest to grow in shallow pots and don’t take up a lot of room. Lettuce, spinach, and kale are as well. It’s essential to mimic the light on the plant to the amount it gets during the growing season, especially for plants such as green beans, squash, and tomatoes. Those are a few I’ve had success with. You can get timers to help with the lights and some come with a timer for that reason.

If you have a balcony, you can utilize the same method or even get a grow tower. Vertical gardens don’t take up too much space. You can order one pre-built or if you like to DIY, make one with a pallet. I have one that I made using a pallet that I scrubbed clean. I then utilized landscaping fabric and created small bags to mimic pots that I filled with container potting soil. My son and I painted it beforehand, but it turned out really cool.

For outside, I use a variety of containers and raised beds for my garden. I have a few things in the ground but not many. Containers need good drainage so you don’t drown the plants. There are a surprising amount of plants that can grow well in Containers. I got most of my containers from things I upcycled around the house. The big cat litter buckets that are around 5 gallons work perfectly. I drained some holes in them for drainage and have used them for several different plants.


Starting a garden with any of the above methods has many benefits for everyone. I would love to see some of the ways you garden and hear why you enjoy it. Be sure to like and share this post. Gardening at home is life-changing.


-Madi

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