Is this the ideal time of year to blog about gardening? No. Will I anyway? Yes. Gardening has become part of my identity. I see it in my dreams. I buy seeds that I most definitely can’t use right now. I will wreck shop at the farmer’s market once the plague is over. I love gardening.
And I am very, very bad at it.
Okay, not as bad as I could be, but that poor Garden of Misery out there could use some work, and I could have used these tips when I began back in May. Hopefully you can learn from both my mistakes and my successes. Here we go.
- Plant radishes and microgreens. Trust me on this one. If you’re just starting out, that first win will help you to stick with it. Radishes are the fastest growing veggie there is, ready and ripe in as little as 20 days depending on the variety you pick. I recommend Early Scarlett Globe and/or Cherry Belle radishes for your first harvest. Get ’em cheap at your local dollar store come seed time or off Ebay if you’re too impatient to wait for Spring like I am. As for microgreens, they grow in about ten to fifteen days, but are far smaller and less satisfying. Still, for a first-timer, having anything grow super fast is good for motivation.
- Liquid fertilizer is stupidly easy to make but smells like death. All things come with a price, and the price of free liquid fertilizer is that you will open the gates of Hell on your nostrils. If this doesn’t deter you, here’s how you make it: throw some fresh grass clippings in some water for three days and stir at least once a day. That’s it. What’s the ratio? Follow your heart. I’m bad at math.
- DO. NOT. WAIT. TO. WEED. My garden is currently a wasteland of little clovers and crabgrass because, you guessed it, I procrastinated weeding. Listen. It sucks. It really really sucks. But you have to get it done. the weeds will just keep coming, so you have to keep slaughtering them. once you see a weed, tear it up from the roots with either your hands or a shovel. Which brings me to my next point…
- Buy a shovel. You don’t have to get one of those big boys that cost a million billion dollars. if you like to sit in your garden while you work, a simple one or two foot shovel will do nicely. From weed control to prepping the ground to being a nice, solid surface to crush a root-eating grub against, they get the job done. Buy a shovel.
- Have water nearby. Unless you’re one of the lucky sons of guns with a sprinkler system, you will be hauling water from a source to your garden. My two best pieces of advice? If you can, build your garden near said source or, if you can’t, make your own. Old gallon containers and tote boxes are an ugly addition to…well, anything, but trust me on this one. If doing the equivalent to carrying a full milk jug back and forth to get to all your plants doesn’t appeal to you, put some big containers near your garden to catch rainwater. Pretty vases from a thrift store might look better and will get the job done, or you could dig a rather large hole and decorate it to look like a very small pond. Brainstorm ideas if you like! As long as you can get the water closer, that’s all that matters.
- Save your seeds. Listen. Unless you’re growing hybrids, there’s no reason to keep buying seeds after your first successful harvest. Let at least one of each plant go to seed and then store those bad boys for next time. Research storing methods for each type of plant, but a good rule of thumb is keeping them dry and cool, as well as letting them dry out completely before storage.
Gardening can be a challenge, but it can also be rewarding. It may take a few harvests before it gets in your blood, but once its there, you’ll have a nice way to have some extra produce on hand for you and anyone you decide to share with.