One of the lovely potential benefits of living with a roommate is the chance to have a bigger, better garden than you’ve been able to maintain alone. Or, if you’ve been living in an apartment and you’re now going to share a single family home with someone, this might be your first chance in a long time to have a big garden of your own. Think how beautiful the two of you can make your back yard, your front walkway, the window boxes. And, if there’s space and the inclination, imagine how many fresh, organic fruits and vegetables you might grow right outside your kitchen door. If you agree to each put some time and a little money toward making your gardens bigger and better, you can surround yourselves with fragrance, greenery, and fresh, beautiful food.
Here’s some advice for getting into gardening either for the first time or on an expanded scale:
- Start Small – Dreaming big is a good thing, but not when it comes to your garden. Starting small is a good way to keep the work from becoming overwhelming. A collection of herb pots, for example, is the perfect entre into the gardening game. They require no digging to start, they’re self contained and easy to care for, and you can plant herbs that are already producing, and begin reaping the rewards immediately. Once you’re comfortable with that routine, you can add more pots or transplant everything into a small in-ground plot. If you build your garden in stages, you’ll be more likely to stick with it for the long run.
- Choose Your Plants Wisely – One of the most common mistakes people make when gardening is choosing difficult or labor-intensive plants to start with. Your local gardening center will have someone on hand who can point you in the direction of the least challenging plants that are most likely to thrive in your area. Once you get comfortable with caring for these heartier species, you can move on to something more challenging without risking big disappointments.
- Embrace The Sweat – There’s no getting around it, gardening is HARD. It involves lots of digging and lugging and planting and rooting and sweating and maybe even a little swearing. For some, the down-and-dirty physical labor is more than they bargained for. How can something so civilized and prim be so grubby and physically challenging? The best way to deal with this truth is to view your gardening time as equivalent to a trip to the gym, and to treat it with the same respect. For example, pick a set of gardening clothes that are comfortable and functional, just as you would wear for traditional exercise. Keep a towel nearby to wipe the sweat out of your eyes as necessary. Have water by your side at all times, and allow yourself a break when you need it. And above all – stretch! Next-day stiffness is inevitable at the beginning, but allowing your body to adjust to the activity is the best way to keep gardening fun.
- Kill Failure – When you garden, you will sometimes have failures; plants that will just not grow and thrive no matter how carefully you water and feed and weed them. Well, sometimes plants are just not happy living where you choose to place them. Try digging them up and planting them in another location around your house. It can be surprising how often this simple change can make all the difference. But if you try two or more relocations and the plant continues to droop and fade, get rid of it. Honestly, that’s one of the best-kept secrets of good gardening: accept failure, then kill and remove the evidence. Only showcase the successes. That simple rule goes a long way toward creating a beautiful, lush landscape around your home.