My mother is a master gardener. Her vast knowledge of the plant world is intimidating to say the least. Each year it seems her gardening system becomes a larger and larger production; from the boxes that come full of seeds in wonderful new varieties, to the magical grow lights that fill the basement and finally the healthy rows of perfectly attended to organically grown plants.
Her prowess in the garden almost back fired on me. My first few attempts at my own garden plot after moving into my own home were sad. I was embarrassed and ashamed and would have given up gardening all together if it wasn’t for my children. They help grandma in the garden and continued to ask if we could plant our own.
First time gardeners and all those gardening drop outs, listen up. I know how you feel. Even with my background, or maybe because of my background, I was intimidated by gardening. Here is what I’ve learned;
1. Gardeners Grow. Just like the plants they coax into being, all gardeners have to start somewhere. There is a learning curve full of failures, dead plants and too many zucchinis.
2. Pay Attention. This is my biggest downfall, I lose track of time and the watering and weeding schedule. Over the years I’ve discovered why my mother’s gardens did so well; she it a point to meet her plants every morning without fail. Just taking a look how their doing on a regular basis upped their chance of success. It also made their upkeep less overwhelming.
3. Slow and Steady Wins the Race. Checking up on the garden everyday ensured that the plants could be found amongst the weeds that grow faster than seedlings. Pulling 20 or 30 weeds, adjusting stakes and picking vegetables daily is better than 100’s of weeds, and plants that fall over from their weight of unpicked vegetables.
4. Give Yourself a Break. If everyday is not possible, then choose the schedule you can stick to and then stick to it! Guilt won’t help your garden grow, but consistent care will. Being in your garden even when their isn’t a pressing need to be helps you build your observing skills which are imperative for gardeners. Look around and see what is working and what isn’t. Make a note of it, but do not beat yourself up over mistakes.
5. Expect to Fail. Not always of course, but throw the idea of a perfect garden out the window. Gardening is not all about you; weather changes and pests can take down a seemingly perfect garden without your help. Experience and observance can help you tackle these problems, but know that they will not be eliminated. Just keep going and try again.
Playing in the dirt should be fun. Loosen up and let yourself try new techniques, order new varieties of plants and watch yourself grow as a gardener.