As a new gardener it is hard to not get caught up in what everyone else is doing in their garden, especially on social media. Not to mention all the comparisons that happen, often between a new gardener and someone who has taken years to build up their garden experience. You may not know which way to start or what techniques to implement because there is so much information out there. Yes there are systems that work really well like no dig, intensive planting and using compost as a mulch and as a main source of nutrients for your soil, but how you go about gardening is something that evolves over time based on your exact needs for the space and time you have. It can be completely overwhelming for new gardeners because if you seek out gardening information on social media you are going to find hundreds of ways of doing things. Try to find what works for you, keep what works, let go of those things that don’t. It can seem daunting at times and I am here to tell you to hang in there and keep growing. I want share with you somethings I think all new gardeners need to hear. Lessons learned from my own growing in the garden experiences. I hope this inspires you to find your way of gardening.
- It’s okay if you don’t like eating or growing something that everyone swears by. Don’t like chard, even though everyone says how easy it is to grow? Don’t grow it, especially if you are like me and growing space is limited. Use that space for something you love.
- You don’t have to have it all figured out. You are just starting out and it is completely okay to not know everything. Even as a seasoned gardener, there is plenty I do not know, haven’t learned yet, or haven’t tried. Gardening is a life long journey of learning.
- It doesn’t have to be perfect. Gardening isn’t about perfection, it’s about rolling with what nature gives you each season and doing your best to care for the garden.
- It’s okay to garden during one season. Yes it is possible with planning and systems in place to garden year round in most places, if you have the space. It is common for experienced gardeners to grow this way or grow in 3 seasons, but it is totally fine to only have a summer garden. You can still enjoy amazing homegrown food while only growing in one season. Do what works for you.
- It’s okay to only eat everything fresh from your garden without preserving anything. Many, many gardeners will grow an abundance of food with the purpose of canning, fermenting or preserving their harvests for use in winter. (Often to get them through to the next season when that food will be fresh in the garden again.) Sometimes we don’t have the growing space to do this, or the time and that is okay. Don’t feel bad if you are focusing your garden efforts on making sure your family is eating garden fresh foods while in season. You can work up to it if that is part of your plan, if not, enjoy what you grow in season!
- It’s okay to want to quit when it gets hard. One thing I can promise you is that at some point in your garden journey it will get hard, you will want to quit. These are normal feelings that can come up even for seasoned gardeners. Sometimes things don’t go right or as planned. Please know that there is always next season. Take the lessons learned and bring them with you to future seasons. This is really how you learn the most. Just don’t quit, it will get better the next season.
- It’s okay to feel bad about pruning your plants. Once you start gardening, you will generally feel more connected to nature and may have a hard time pruning or culling plants and seedlings. Trust me, with intensive planting, you will want to prune to optimize airflow for the health of your plants. I also know it’s hard to cull seedlings when you have given them so much love to start their life. For seedlings, pinch them or cut them and eat them! I always offer gratitude and many thanks to each plant I grow, this can help as you prune or cull. Try it and let me know how it works for you.
- It’s okay to be overwhelmed. Gardening can become overwhelming at times, this is especially true when you have a lot going on in your life or if you have small children. Do what you can for the season of life you are in. Even a single plant in a container is still gardening and giving you some fresh homegrown food.
- You will kill plants, but it will teach you a lot in the process. One of the best ways to become a proficient gardener is to kill a lot of plants. Through trial and error you will learn what works and what doesn’t. Accidentally killing plants will teach you so much. Take what you learn with you on your garden journey.
I hope that after you read this that you will give yourself permission to create your way of gardening, something that works for you. I hope that you will let go of the pressure to have a social media ready garden right at the start. In time you will grow gardens like you see, but take your time, give yourself grace. Every season is a time to learn something new, make mistakes and learn from them. Take lots of pictures, someday you will look back and miss these early days when everything was new and wondrous. Always approach your garden with a beginners mind and go with the flow. Before you know it your garden will be the one a new gardener is dreaming of creating and aspiring to have. Hang in there and keep on growing!