Gardening 101 // The Basics
It’s that time again! Time to plan our gardens and this year I have big changes in mind due to lessons I learned last year and I’m terribly excited to get started on this year’s crop!!!
I have received several questions from beginner gardeners over on Instagram, so I thought I would start a little series here that goes through things I think about each year when planning a garden. So keep reading for bi-weekly updates on how our garden is doing and what you can be doing to excel (by trail and error) in your own garden.
DISCLAIMER : I am by no means a professional gardener or am actually trained in anything. I am just a gal who loves to dig in the dirt and I want to share that experience with y'all. So buckle up and get ready to dig in your own dirt!
First things first though. You might be reading this post thinking “why in the world would I ever garden?” Or you might be one of those - sitting where I was - thinking that you could never have your own garden… that you would never be able to keep up with it, you’d kill everything or it would be a total waste of money…. STOP!! Let me tell you… YES you can!!!!!
I garden because I love to plant something and watch it bloom. I love to sit in my backyard and literally enjoy the fruits of my labor. I like to feel the sweat on my back as we dig and bury and weed and water. My very favorite process - until the dead of August - is getting my cup of coffee before the kiddos get up and getting out to water with the hose. It is maybe the most peaceful time of day ever and perhaps those are also my most peaceful times of the year.
Y’all, I long for that time right now… when the green leaves spring back to the water and the blooms carry the droplets like tiny little crystals of jewelry. I mean, let’s be honest, I could get out there right now and water but nothing would enjoy it. It’s all brown, crunchy and dead. Watering that isn’t the same as watering something that is growing… there might be a sermon in there, right?
Okay, so let’s start at the very beginning.
First, you need to find out what zone you’re in by looking at this map. That was pretty simple, wasn't it? Also, know that I’m in zone 8.
Next let’s do some definitions :
Perennial : lasting or existing for a long or apparently infinite time; enduring or continually recurring. (Also known as the plants that come back year after year).
Annual : plants with a life cycle that lasts only one year. They grow from seed, bloom, produce seeds, and die in one growing season. They then need to be replanted each spring.
Next, you need to evaluate where you want to plant.
Do you have a patio or do you have a yard? Do you want to plant in your beds or do you want to build something? Do you have a lot of sun or do you have a lot shade? Mine changes from spring to summer - nothing terribly dramatic - but keep that in mind. What is your water situation like? Can you move a hose to wherever you want to plant?
A few thoughts here before you get overwhelmed.
First, container gardening is MY personal favorite. I would much rather plant in pots, or baskets or whiskey barrels, than plant in a bed. In fact, there are only a handful of things I’ll plant in beds now because I feel like they are definitely harder than keeping something alive in containers. The BIG advantage of container gardening is that if you see something wilting in hot sun every afternoon, you can move the container! How genius is that? If you have something in beds, it’s not as easy, although I have done it before. If you are a TRUE beginner gardener, I would stick with containers.
Okay - so next you have to decide what you want to plant.
Do you want a cut flower garden? Do you want big blooms or do you want a variety (that’s what I like!) Do you want to stick to a color theme? Do you want to plant perennials (the kind that come back every year) or do you want to do annuals that you plant every year, or do you want to do a mix of both?
I have one flower bed by my living room window that I did almost all perennials in with big blooms. I had Lavender Butterfly Bush, Salvia and Texas Sage. I filled in with some Lantanta (which is essentially a perennial in Texas). All of these are pretty drought resistant and that is a necessity for us in Texas, unless I plan to be out there all of the time. These all did well and are already turning green this year. Also know that perennials tend to be hardier than annuals.
The number one question here is this : What do you (and/or your family) like to eat that you can grow? I mean, I like cookies, but I can’t grow those… fortunately for my weight. Most edibles require FULL sun, so keep that in mind if you are working with some shade. There are a few that don’t necessarily care all that much, like herbs, but most flowering plants like FULL, HOT sun!
Here are some easy (from my experience) first time edibles to grow.
Basil, Rosemary (a perennial), any kind of pepper, Cucumbers, bush beans.
Your assignment for this week is to grab a cup of coffee, a piece of paper and start answering these little questions for yourself. Start scribbling down what you really want. It might not be what you end up with, but it gives you an idea of where you want to start.
Take a trip to your local nursery and see what they have available in terms of seed and small plants, but DON'T BUY ANYTHING YET. This will get your mind inspired for planting and give you a better idea of what grows in your zones. Don't be discouraged if there isn't much available, it's still very early in the planting season.
Take a look at gardens over on Pinterest. Beware to not spend too much time there, though, or you might get overwhelmed and disappointed that your yard can't look like the picture you see. It can still look awesome, and it will become your little baby soon enough.
The bottom line is to get inspired and to tell yourself that you CAN do this!!
Next week, come with your answers along with your ideas and we will starting putting a plan together for your yard! Let me know if you have any specific questions you want to answer in next week's post and I'll put them in there for you!