I kid you not. I was a TERRIBLE gardener. What did I know? I was a city kid who lived in a four-story walk-up.
When we bought our first house with an actual back yard, I was in Nirvana, but I was a curse from the start. Greg seemed to take to gardening easily, probably because his father put in a garden every year in their tiny backyard. But me? I killed everything I touched. For a while Greg did all the gardening and I stuck to weeding.
Killing was in my blood and weeding seemed a natural vocation for me.
It was pathetic how bad a gardener I was. I loved it so much, but I didn’t have a knack for it. My biggest problem, as I learned later is that I was too impatient. I was suckered in by all the beautiful photos I saw in magazines, never realizing these people might’ve worked years to get that good.
It’s kind of like looking at Facebook. Everyone else always seem to be more successful, have more fun, and do more exciting things than I do. Even their dogs are prettier and smarter. Or so it seems.
I started reading gardening books and listening to experienced gardeners. I took classes to become a certified master gardener. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, my skill improved.
Even today, I still kill lots of plants. Some varieties don’t work for me. Others require more care than I want to donate. In the end, the best advice I can give is to grow what works for you.
If you like the idea of gardening, try it on a small scale. Even a pot of basil will make you feel heroic and virtuous.
• Grow in pots. So many plants grow well in pots. All they need is a sunny window, water and a good potting mix.
• Start small. Even if you live in an apartment, put a couple of big pots on your balcony. Grow a tomato, peppers, or even potatoes if the pot is deep.
• Know your climate zone. If you live in Canada, there will be many things I can grow in Texas but you can’t –and vice versa. Cool weather plants do great in Canada. Here, there’s only a small window of opportunity if at all. For example: I can’t grow rhubarb. Definitely a cool weather plant.
• Enjoy the fresh air. The nice thing about gardening is that you’re outside. Breathe and stretch those muscles. It’s good for the body and soul.
• Eat what you grow. There’s something very satisfying about eating what you grow. (See above about being virtuous.)
I grow a lot of plants in pots. In the spring, I do herbs in pots, but in the fall I regularly do several pots of tomatoes, peppers, and beans, even potatoes. Our winters are mild. When it gets too cold I can move the pots indoors and still get home grown food in the dead of winter.
If you have the room, try raised beds. I promise a future post on how we do our raised beds. Some people don’t like them, but we swear by them. They’ve been the most successful of all the gardening we’ve done. They’re easier to keep weeded and watered.
Don’t get caught up in the magazine version of what your garden should look like. I have weeds and I’m okay with it. Right now I have a cracking good stand of poison ivy on the front walkway. I’ll rip them out once my other projects are done.
Why, oh why do weeds always look so healthy?
Do you grow a garden? Flowers? Edibles? In pots or in the ground?
Are you a natural gardener? I promise I won’t hate you for being perfect, but I withhold the right to feel gardener envy. You have no idea how much I wish I had a natural green thumb.