I have dreamt about growing my own oasis filled to the brim with vegetation, flowers and butterflies galore, for as long as I can remember.
Whenever I’d think of gardening, I’d always approach it so scientifically–ph balance, moon cycles, germination, blah, blah, blah–and psyche myself out. One day in the middle of the summer I said to myself, “Fuck it,” went to my local Home Depot, and bought some tomato and bell pepper transplants.
These were already living, already bearing fruit, how hard can it be?
My first crop DIED within 4 days. I was so distraught. I thought to myself, “Damn, I can’t even water a plant; what am I to do with a child some day?”
In my defense, South Florida had torrential rains for about a week straight. The plants were dry when I bought them and they loved the rain storms. But once it got hot out again, I didn’t water them enough and the vacillating water cycles shocked them and killed them.
“Well, if at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again.” -The Late Aaliyah
I read a bit about what to look for when purchasing transplants. Sure, the plants I previously bought bore fruit but they were in pots way too small and the roots were bunched. I should’ve immediately transported them into more spacious digs.
This time, I was ready.
I watered my plants, I talked to my plants. In fact, my dogs got a little jealous because they now had plant sisters I had to care for in addition to them.
If you’re a gardening invalid like me, here are a few things to consider when starting your container garden:
- Choose your pots based on your region’s climate. I love the Mediterranean look of terra cotta pots, but the clay would simply cook my plants’ roots. Instead, I opted for self watering plastic pots since we are prone to random rain showers and blazing hot temperatures in the middle of the summer.
- All soil is not the same–choose soil based on what you’re growing and how you’re growing it! I was in the dirt section at Home Depot for 45 minutes throwing soil in and out of my cart. I ended up choosing Miracle Gro which is a great soil for both vegetables and flowers. Some plants need certain amendments to produce flowers or fruits and others need dry, airy soil to ensure they don’t become waterlogged.
Who knew that dirt came in so many varieties?
- Don’t drown your plants. I thought it was the cutest thing to have my morning coffee in the garden and water my plants daily… until they started wilting on my ass. You can tell they’re overwatered when the leaves are green, don’t show any signs of infection or bug infestation, and yet, they’re still sad and wilted. Another determinant is touch the soil; does it clump together with a mud pie consistency? Your plants can bounce back from this… but not if you keep doing it.
- Prune, prune, prune! It can be so exciting when you start to see your plant start to fruit but keep in mind that your plant needs to be sturdy enough to support the fruits! By pruning your plants, this signals to them what they should give their energy to. I wanted my plants wider and stronger, so I pruned them back to have more branches, thusly, larger, more bountiful harvests later on.
- Tools definitely help! This handy dandy starter kit was a godsend. Best $30 I’ve ever spent in my life! Lest I mention, tools are expensive as hell if you purchase them individually. I’m sure there are better quality options in the market, but for me just starting out, this kit contained everything that I could possibly need to get started. Get yours here.
- Talk to your plants. I’m a hippie and I believe in sending positive energy to all living things. I named each of them and encourage them to do their best every morning when I go outside to check on their leaves and their fruit.
- Know your gardening zone! Depending on where you are geographically, there are certain plants that thrive in your climate. Also, there are optimal times for growing and harvesting. You can find out your gardening zone by clicking here.
- Start off small. Grab a plant or two. Google what you should do to keep that plant alive. I started off with 4 transplants–green bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, patio tomatoes and heat master tomatoes.
“Omg, she’s REALLY growing shit!” -Everyone
Since then, I’ve added mint, sweet corn, marigolds, lettuce, parsley, cilantro, marigolds, zinnias, and a whole ass lemon tree into the mix! I plan on sowing carrots, potatoes, lavender an more flowers as I continue to learn more!
Pick one, any one!
My biggest resource has been YouTube. I love watching gardeners of all backgrounds share their tidbits about gardening. Some of my favorite channels are:
I’m really happy I decided to get over myself and give gardening a go. It’s something I’ve always longed for but never knew how satisfying and fascinating it would be! I really get a kick waking up each morning and checking on my plants.
Do tell; would you give gardening a go?!!
Peace and Love,
I chronicle my gardening shenanigans on Instagram Stories. Click on the GARDEN tab on my highlights to catch up with my garden!