In my daily life, I get a lot of questions on how to garden. Especially how to garden if you don’t have ground to call your own. So I thought I would throw together a quick cheeky little post… (Or I at least intended it to be a quick one… Guess I got inspired😉)
The fastest way to start gardening (and building your gardening confidence) is to grab a few containers, some quality potting soil, and start there. You could have a little lettuce container on a balcony, or a few herbs in pots to add to your cooking. You can start these from seed or you can get plants already started at the garden centre. A bigger pot is usually a good bet, so buy them bigger than you think you will need, as this will give the roots lots of room.
If you are lucky and have a little patch of ground; Feel the soil and compare it to what potting soil feels like. If your ground doesn’t feel like it is going to grow anything, then stick to container gardening for a little bit to get your confidence up. There is nothing so confidence shattering than plunking stuff in the ground with so much hope attached to it, and then watching the little plants die. However, If your ground feels like it is great top soil, go ahead and garden in it. All you can do is try.
The next thing in building confidence is to start with easy and low maintenance plants. I added a little list down at the bottom of this post for things I consider great beginner plants.
The more confidence you get, the more willing you become to just try and see if it works. And the more you try, the more confidence you get. So ultimately you are winning. Gradually you learn what works for you, and where you live… And how amazing growing your own food tastes. AND if something doesn’t work out the way you were hoping, just try something else next time.
- Radish- in about 3 weeks from seed you can start eating these. So If you have a short attention span, these may be for you. However, in the heat of summer, they just end up bolting (going to seed, rather than building the root that you want to eat), so these are more of a spring and fall kind of attempt at gardening. Also, if you don’t like radish, then there is no use in growing them.
- Lettuce – Plunk these seeds in the soil and soon you will have lettuce. You can give it a little haircut when you want a salad, and it will regrow. Find a “cut-and-come-again” variety for the easiest harvests, or a mix of different lettuces for some variety. Lettuce will also bolt if it gets too hot, so in the heat of summer, you can move it to a shadier spot to help stop this. Once it bolts it becomes really bitter, and doesn’t taste that great. Lettuce starts from the garden centre are also a good option. Starting with actual plants can help build confidence too. There is no shame in skipping the seed packets! I tend to grow from seed and starts! Last year was the first time I didn’t buy lettuce already started by someone else.
- Spinach – These seeds are a lot bigger than the lettuce seeds, and also grow really fast. They are also fast to bolt though, so just harvest once you have the leaves.
- Potatoes – Get a big pot (I usually use the big muck-tubs that are like 60L with a bunch of drainage holes put in the bottom), put some potting soil in, and some seed potatoes, and then a little more dirt. You can add in more dirt as the plants grow, but it wont make much difference as long as you give them some decent space to begin with. (I’ll try and do a follow along post this year on my potatoes if you are interested). Keep them watered, but not soggy, and in about 90-110 (or longer) days you will have potatoes. Its a really satisfying. Even if you only get little baby potatoes – They will be more delicious than than anything you can buy at a grocery store – Because they actually taste like potatoes.
- Carrots- These are typically easy… But your ground needs to be a little on par for these to work. In my yard, I can’t grow decent carrots to save my live… But I do still get carrots, and if you plan out your container right with the variety, you can easily grow them in a container. I plan to experiment with carrots this year to find a way to grow them in my yard that works, so keep an eye out for those posts too.
- Bush Beans – These are probably my favourite. They are the first thing I ever grew by myself when I was little. You stick the seed in the ground, and water them, and then you get pretty little flowers, and then you get delicious beans! Seriously easy. And you can grow them in containers too. AND, they come in a rainbow of colours too! Climbing/pole/runner beans are easy too, you just need to provide them with something to climb up.
- Peas- These can be as easy or as difficult as you make them. I’ve plunked a few little pea seeds in with some flowers in hanging baskets and grew peas dangling over the edges. You don’t get a huge harvest, but you do get something… which is kind of the point.They also add a delicate little trail of green hanging down (and sometimes climbing up the hanging bit of the basket) that you won’t see in the hanging baskets that are ready to go. There are also some shorter varieties that don’t even need support; they just hold onto their friends and help support each other. Just read the seed packet to gain information about the variety, and match that to your growing conditions.
- Onion sets – These can be easy, but they can also be disheartening. It took me a few years to be able to grow a decent onion, but I kept trying and now they are probably one of the easiest and most low-maintenance things I grow. And for someone who doesn’t really like onions, I grow a lot of them.
- Strawberries- You can find hanging baskets of these at big stores that have a seasonal garden area (or maybe even at your local garden centre) come spring time, and you are all set. The hanging basket will protect your berries from any slugs or ground bugs that want to steal your harvest, but watch out for birds and squirrels. Harvest any ripe berries as soon as you see them so you get to enjoy them and not the neighbourhood wildlife.
We will see how this year goes, but I am trying to get a “how to start gardening” series up closer to Spring time.