As a little girl, I watched my mother and grandmother garden. At the beginning of Spring, I knew it was time for the ritual of turning the soil, clearing out weeds, and planting seeds. The idea and chore behind it all never seemed appealing. Play in the dirt where critters live and breed? Nah, I'll pass.
To my surprise about 30 years later I was doing the very thing I said I would never do. Cultivating and loving my garden while running from the occasional bug or two. Hobbies are meant to ease your sanity and bring instant joy to your soul. If not, it's time to find a new hobby. There is a certain level of peace that comes along with gardening and yard work and I completely lose myself when I'm putting my green thumb to work. It's the therapist you never knew you needed. But don't get it twisted! Gardening is truly backbreaking work, however, the end result is well worth it. Get your notepad ready, take notes, because we are getting down and dirty!
So, you've decided to try your hand at growing something. You've killed more plants than you can count and you have sworn to stick with the plastic plants that are forever green while requiring zero water. Doesn't get easier than that! But it does. Following rules are important for most things, and gardening is certainly no exception.
Flowers love the attention to detail, and they talk to you in different ways to let you know what's going on. If the leaves are drooping the plant is most likely thirsty and could use a drink. The rule of thumb is to always do a finger test to determine how dry the soil is before giving your plants a nice H20 bath. If your finger inserted about an inch is dry then get your watering can ready. A common misconception is that you need to water your plants once a week. Too much water can cause a condition known as root rot and can also cause drooping leaves. The roots of the plant are the lifeline and health of your plant and if they are damaged or neglected the entire plant will eventually die.
It's also very important to remove leaves that are yellow and dying. If not, the dead leaves will begin to pull from the life of the plant. A quick snip will prevent an even bigger problem. Plants gravitate toward the sun and will begin to grow and lean in the direction the sun is coming from. To obtain an even and fuller plant, rotate your plant once a week and before you know it the leaves have filled in quite nicely.
The name kind of says it all. Container planting is an easier way to manage your garden as the root base will only grow as big as the size of your planter. Ground planting is amazing as it allows the root base to expand and stretch out. Your garden will flourish in the ground just as it will in containers. Over the years I've lived in many places, some with ample yard space and some without. I opted to stick with planters as I didn't want to deal with the maintenance of planting in the ground. As I mentioned, gardening is hard and consistent work, however, the fruits of your labor are most definitely worth the effort. Planting vegetables and flowers may seem overwhelming in the beginning especially if you have little to no experience. Here are a few tips that will help with the process.
The water required for your garden will be much more intense than your indoor plants. As your garden continues to grow and the temperature increases the plants will be thirsty at the rate of every day or every other day. So, be prepared, it's game time!
I purchased my first home in the late 90s. Terrified at the thought of cutting my grass because I convinced myself I didn't know how. Well, I had no choice because I was determined to prove myself wrong and I wasn't hiring a yard guy. The first few cuts were horrible, my lines were crooked, I missed a few spots and the grass was beginning to turn brown in some spots. There were a few problems. I was cutting the grass too low, I didn't set the water out enough and I never fertilized. As important as it was to learn how to properly maintain my lawn, it was just as important to educate myself on fertilizing.
As Spring starts and the grass begins to green is a perfect time to begin fertilizing. Pay attention to the schedule for when you choose to start treating your lawn. If every season is your preference then set your reminder and make sure you have what you need on hand. Some choose to apply the granules by hand, however, I feel this method is a bit risky as you might end up with too much in certain areas which could lead to grass burns. Purchase a broadcast spreader at your local home store and read the instructions carefully as this will determine the setting for the type of fertilizer you choose. It's also important to note that the granules should be applied when the grass has been dampened or at morning's first dew, This helps the granules adhere to the grass. The more time you spend taking care of your lawn the more your lawn will thank you.
Spring is finally here. I purchased my second home last year and I'm anxious to see what adventures I will get into with my garden. I am considering a mixture. Ground planting and containers. As I think back to the days when I knew without a shadow of a doubt I would never garden, I realize now it's in my blood. I get it from my mother and grandmother and that's a gift I will treasure forever. Life is funny at times. If you pay close attention the lessons are all around you and before you know it the very thing you felt was so unimportant becomes the one thing you never knew you would love so much.
AJ is a creative writer and storyteller writing from her home in Indiana.
"This is how you do it; you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it's done. It's that easy, and that hard." -Neil Gaiman