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Gardening for Beginners

I love gardening! Have I mentioned that yet? I’m sure I have. But, it’s not enough for me to love it. I want everyone else to love it too!

So many people find gardening intimidating. And it’s no wonder! Just Google “gardening” and several well-meaning but very frightening articles come up about soil pH and tales of insect mass destruction.

Gardening is a science of sorts, but it’s not your AP Chemistry class, by any means.

 

The fact is, seeds want to germinate, they want to grow. They aren’t the prissy, finicky, willy-nilly princesses “expert” gardeners make them out to be (except onions, those guys are jerks).

So whether you have a small window box or a one acre plot—let’s get gardening!

SOIL

In gardening, soil is important. But my advice? Don’t stress too much! Yes, certain vegetables enjoy certain soil components and might do better in acidic soil rather than basic, but that doesn’t mean they won’t grow if it’s wrong.

The best thing to do as a gardening beginner is to purchase a load of compost (it’s cheaper than you think) and use a pitch fork or shovel to turn it into your soil. The easiest measurement is to do about a third amount of the compost as gardening soil.

This is a little bit more tricky when you aren’t doing raised beds or containers, but, again I say, don’t stress!

A little too much or not enough is not the end of your harvest.

 

[Cucuzzi gourds, cherry tomatoes, and burgundy string beans]

SUNLIGHT

Your garden most certainly needs full sun. It is quite amazing the difference just a few hours less than full sun can have on your garden. This is why, even though it is warm in Texas from March-November, the growing season still cuts off with daylight savings.

Plants grow much more slowly and are weaker with less sunlight.

Watch your yard throughout the day and take note of where you have a spot that stays in full sun. Look out for large trees that might shade your garden space during peak sun hours.

This is one aspect that is pretty non-negotiable. Though it isn’t complicated, it can still be quite an eye-opening experience to observe what areas of your yard actually aren’t as sunny as you once thought.

[peach blossoms]

WATER

Look, plants need water. I know, duh. So, it may go without saying to put your garden near a source of water. If your garden isn’t within easy watering distance, chances are you will be less inclined to water it.

For me, it was imperative to have the garden as close to my back door as possible. I just had to be honest with myself about how much time and energy I would be willing to use on gardening once the temperature started to exceed 100 degrees.

Having it placed so conveniently means I can spend ten minutes in the morning, barefoot, with a hot cup of coffee, watering the garden without even putting shoes on.

[first orange blossom]

CHOOSING PLANTS

One mistake (or is it?) I make every year is planting too many varieties. I want to grow anything and everything that I love or that looks interesting or is recommended by someone I follow on Instagram.

The problem is, planting is the easy part. Harvesting is where it gets labor intensive.

Like I said, plants want to grow. And when you succeed (and you will) in getting even two or three plants to grow and begin producing, they will require harvesting.

So, if you have the self-restraint and willpower necessary, choose four types of plants to grow and keep it to that for your first year.

Tomatoes, squash, beans, and melons are great starter plants because they are fruitful, heavy producers and love Texas sun.

Wait… did I say tomatoes? Aren’t those the most difficult, fussy, testy kind of plants to put in your garden?

Nope. They aren’t. But the bugs sure like them. That would take a whole other post, though!

[Pruden’s Purple, Pierce’s Pride, and Sweety Cherry tomatoes]

GARDENING DOESN’T HAVE TO BE HARD

With anything, there will always be something you can do to make the job better, or smoother, or more successful, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.

Gardening really can be simple, if you let nature work it’s magic.

Your seeds need soil, sunlight, water, and your presence.

Before you go and invest in all the proper equipment, soil amendments, and irrigation systems, make sure you actually like gardening in the first place.

Pick up a package of seeds at the grocery store, find a sunny spot, and plant them.

I have to say, though, once you get your first taste of a homegrown tomato, you will never go back.

Beware!

And go plant!

[Ladybug on peach tree]

 

 

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