Thinking of starting a garden? Now’s your chance. It’s that time of year when your resolve may be heightened and your determination peaked to put in motion many of the things you’ve wanted to try, do or be — maybe a garden is one of them? I was struck by the staggering volume of Weight Watchers ads during the New Year’s, NYC live-televised broadcast. It reminded me that New Year’s resolutions, like gardens, come in many shapes and sizes and the basics of a successful New Year’s resolution is not so different from the basics of successful gardening.
First, start small. If your plans are too broad and large in scale it can be tough to pull off, no matter what it is. You can always add to a garden but it’s soberingly difficult to recover from failure. This garden (above) lives on a cart I pull in and out of my house. Its a fab find, an old aluminum bartenders cart — perfect because it doesn’t rust, it’s small and easy to wheel around. I use it for seed starting and growing greens and sprouts — a modest but nutritious reward that packs some punch.
Second, the baby steps of starting small is like finding pennies tucked away here and there. They’re bite size allotments that eventually add up to something size-able. Think of them as easy-to-incorporate advancements that eventually amount to lifestyle.
Here are a few other things to keep in mind:
- Optimize your sunniest location. You’ll need at least 6 hours of sun a day unless you stick to greens, then you could make due with less. If you’re in a high mountain area or similar climate with cold nights and a short growing season 8+ hours is ideal.
- Improve and cultivate your soil. Soil is the workhorse of any garden and by feeding and nurturing your soil with organic compost, worm castings or other, organic fertilizers your garden will work for you.
- Hopefully your sunniest location is also a place in constant view. To see any garden — veggie garden, bee garden or sitting garden — from a kitchen window is even more rewarding. If you can’t make this work then the next best thing is to create your garden into a go-to place. An irresistible garden oasis. Otherwise it can be easy for a garden to go untended and eventually suffer from neglect.
- Plan a water source. A spigot is good but an irrigation system is amazing.
- Consider raised beds but any container will do. Raised beds make soil management along with pest and weed control easy. Plus drainage tends to be good. They are naturally out of foot traffic and can be designed to be gentle on your back and fit into any space.
- Start by growing the things you love to eat, look at, remember as a child or that are a source of inspiration, like a bee or butterfly garden.
- Get to know your climate. Growing the right plant in the right place will save you from extra, unnecessary work.
- Don’t wait for everything to be perfect or you may never start. Get it close and then jump in. Pass the pistil.