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How To Start A Garden: Easy Tips On Starting (&Utilizing) Your Home Space


I'm going to go ahead and start this post and say: we're not gardening experts. And I'll follow that up with: this whole post is about not being an expert--- so if you're not an expert either, then wonderful, lets talk about starting a garden! Hi!

So, I think this post was the first post I ever did on gardening. It was a long time before this house and this yard--- and absolutely a long time before the garden, but looking back, much of it (all of it) is still relevant. The post is simple organic gardening tips, and I'm happy to say we're still doing the whole thing as organically and naturally as possible-- but I also know that the first step in having an organic garden-- is to actually have a garden-- any garden. So, yes I totally believe that an organic garden is the only home garden option (why bother, if you're going to ingest chemicals?), but first things first: starting a garden. Again, we're not experts, we're just people who have the want and need to grow our own food in our own home, but hopefully these tips will help or inspire you to start your own, even if its a teeny tiny one. Not ready for your outdoor space yet? Check out this post for the best indoor plants to have or this post for indoor plant pest control.

Also, I do realize most of you guys are planning for snow, not greenery--- but here's the thing, you can look at this upcoming winter season as the perfect amount of time to excite yourself for your upcoming spring garden, right? right ;)

start anywhere - while I could bring in a lot of good *how a garden is like life* metaphors right about now--- my best advice is really to just start anywhere. A lot of times we get hung up on exactly where we should start. I mean I feel that way sometimes when I have a heavy work load in front of me or the house is a mess--- we often overthink ourselves to death and we're not sure where to smart. It's a home garden, not rocket science. Whats the worst that can happen? You kill a sprout? You'll live. Start anywhere.


plan a little - maybe. this rule depends on your personality. For someone like me, the planning process brings the overthinking process. For someone like Alex, planning is key while diving right in leads to more frustration. I'm more the *jump in and go* kind of person. Figure out what type of person you are and what will make you feel more confident in growing. Again, don't overthink it, it really just takes some easy planning to make your first move. questions to ask: what plants are good for my climate or for our local soil? what space will I use? and: what do I even want to grow?


be realistic- you don't need to plan and make promises that you may not be able to keep. Don't go into the process thinking or planning to feed your entire family in a few weeks. Just plan to grow a bit and build your space each year. There's no reason to overdo it.


grow a little - it's a smart idea to plant small crops of each item. There's no reason you need to try to grow 200 radishes at once. I mean, sure you can, and extras are a nice gift for friends and neighbors--- but it's also a whole lot more work when you over do it. And it's never a good idea to start off overwhelmed. Working with smaller sections of each item means that you can focus more of your love and attention on each plant. Do you want to pick off 10 easy to spot caterpillars or try find 200? It's also a lot less frustrating when you have a small handful of plants die, opposed to hundreds of plants you've spent hours working on.


variety - this goes hand in hand with "grow a little." Big company farms have had to implement extra pesticides and gmo seeds because of mono-cropping--- sure your garden will be of a MUCH larger size, but you also don't need to be mono-cropping your tiny (or large) space. Simply adding more variety brings a new level of pest control. Will you still have pests? Probably yes. But you're less likely to have everything wiped clean by adding diversity to your space. Pests have they're food of choice--- not one pest will go after everything. Plant lots of different things to protect from bugs, frustration, and to make extra delicious salads.

space, a little is a lot - I mean, you do need some space! But don't doubt the possibilities of food fruition just because you have a tiny space! Even a small space can provide food! Maybe you won't be planting giant trees or harvesting sweet potatoes anytime soon, but there are still a lot of options for small yard gardening. Small space? Maybe check out THIS book. You don't need a football field. You just need a little space and big ideas.
grow up - I know, how rude, right? but really, if you're lacking space, consider growing up! ;) We've used our fence for our passion vines and our pergola and porch for hanging plants. Things like cucumbers for instance, sprawl out all over, but a few sticks in the dirt and you can more than easily grow them upwards! I'm sure there's A LOT of books on vertical gardening--- THIS one has wonderful reviews.


edible landscaping - look at all your space as prime gardening space. We wanted our space to not only be beautiful, practical, and functional, but also edible. There are endless options for plants and trees out there. Need shade? A large fruit tree can provide that. Ground covering? Cuban oregano grows like weeds. Want a sprawling vine? Passion fruit is perfect (stay away from air potatoes!!!) Need a low or dividing fence? Lemongrass boom! Want flowers? Chamomile makes a great tea.  *I know a lot of the plants I listed are mostly specific to our area--- but with (a little bit of) planning, you'll find the perfect plants for your needs and climate line ;)

front yards, they're handy! - who says your home garden needs to be in your backyard? Front yards are great too. Also, check zoning to see how far out you can plant in your space. Grass is nice, but plants feed your gut.


make garden friends - really. Do it. You can trade local tips and secrets, trade plants, and share salad. The same reason we like to have a buddy to keep us accountable at the gym, garden friends can help you in the garden. check out plant sales, botanical gardens, get out there and meet people! It's okay to be plant nerds together. Some people like to garden for quiet meditation time--- but for those who like a bit more social excitement, garden friends are the perfect partners to help plant make your space perfect. need a gift idea for your garden friends? What about a plant and this super adorable garden memory book


get your family or yourself excited! -  what are your favorite fruit and vegetables to eat? Or the ones you spend the most money on? Whatever gets you most excited, think about that. In general, it's a pretty good rule, that the things you grow yourself, will taste the best. I mean, you planted that extra spec of love in there, right? We all probably know this by now, but I HATE bananas, but I'm truly excited to start growing them. The leaves are stunning and my monkey child eats about three a day. Bananas are a great investment for us and you guys know, I love a good investment. Also for me, salad greens and herbs! Those two things seem like our biggest expense at the store, growing them at home has saved us so much money. I've found that our store bought salad greens often go to waste too often in our house. We have to be in the mood to eat them and if we're not, they don't last very long-- our garden is our solution to this. Saving money and salad whenever I want make me happy and excited. What would excite you most? Do that. 

Remember, just start anywhere ;) 
Want more resources? What about a pile of books to read next to a winter fire?
Here are some gardening books that might come in handy:
also, my fiend brandy recommended THIS book, it's AWESOME.
and something for your adventurous year round folk: year round gardening

ps. you can pick up some seeds at whole foods or larger garden stores, but even amazon has a lot of organic seed options! How adorable are THESE?!

Have more tips? Please share!

I'm super excited to share a bit of our garden process this season with you guys! Sorting so many (too many) photos tonight :) In the meantime, check out more garden posts HERE

7 comments:

  1. A really inspirational post Drea. I must google air potatoes, I'm intrigued. I've always been a big fan of fitting in food plants wherever there is space, and growing fruit trees instead of ornamental ones. I always look forward to your garden posts, they are most enjoyable. CJ xx

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  2. This is so inspiring! I don't have a yard but I've tried to grow stuff in pots. Aaaand...I killed them all :(

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  3. Really wished we had the weather for it here in Denmark all year around as well, but the summer must do! Yours look amazing!!

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  4. i love this! i will be coming back to this one day when i have a backyard!

    xx nikki
    www.dream-in-neon.com

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  5. This is all wonderful advice :) My 'best-gardening-friend' and I trade any extras we have with each other. Sometimes she has too many strawberries to deal with and I'll bring her some fresh herbs to trade. There is darn near NOTHING as good as food straight from the dirt.

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  6. I think a lot of people forget that you can't really (unless you start [in the NW for example] in January) feed your whole family and be self sustaining right away! It takes time and persistence to build a good garden over time to sustain a family and in colder areas like in the NW, move that stuff indoors! I'm trying out tomatoes indoors this winter! It also takes time to just observe where you get the best light and warmth each season in your yard too!

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  7. Do you have any suggestions for growing a garden in pots/containers? I have a patio but not a yard to plant in. A suggestion of a good book on this topic in FL would be awesome! Thanks

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