10 Ways to Conquer Your Fear of Gardening

You might not believe it, but you were born with a green thumb. It may have gone untended for a while, but it's there waiting for you to nudge it awake. Put away your theory of being a plant killer, that anything dies under your care. Forget those nagging thoughts of where your garden will live or when you'll find the time, it's there somewhere. It doesn't have to cost a fortune and you'll get more than you give. So, here are 10 tips for conquering your fear of gardening:

1. Keep it Simple

Let go of "landscape" and think containers and filling nooks and crannies with life. Grow the things that elevate your aesthetic, such as the flowers and flavors that put a skip in your step. A little can go a long way.

2. Grow What You Love

Find the things that make you happy and grow them. Whether it be basil for your favorite pesto, succulents for your windowsill, or pineapple sage for pollinators and cocktails. Whatever it is, start there. Choose one or two or a handful. Cultivating the things your love means every minute counts that much more.

3. Start Small

Containers make great gardens, allowing you to focus your attention on the space your plants need to grow. Pots, boxes, vertical planters, and raised beds define your garden, telling you where to weed, what to care for, and what needs to be watered.

4. Set Yourself Up for Success

At its simplest, all you need is sun, soil, water, and air. But many plants also need shelter from wind or animals such as deer and gophers. Take notice of who might be out to eat your garden before you do, and pinpoint your sunniest locations. A veggie garden needs full sun (a minimum of six hours direct sunlight), but most warm-season crops grow better with more.

5. Get Watering Right

Determine how to water your garden before you begin -- when left to our own devices, most of us don't water correctly. Plus drip systems, soaker hoses, and nanny pots are far more effective, preserving soil structure and ensuring plants get exactly what they need. Once you have a system in place, you'll feel like your garden practically runs itself, and you can simply sit back and enjoy.

6. Copy Nature

In nature, water runs downhill. So, too, should water in your garden. Make sure you have drain holes on the sides and bottom of pots, boxes, or raised beds. Add drain rock then an organic planting mix top dressed with compost or mulch. Next, tend your soil. Soil health and structure is key to a vibrant garden. Over time, replace or replenish soil with organic compost or, for smaller containers, an organic potting mix.

7. Make New Friends

Who doesn't love a trip to the nursery? A gardening workshop might be out of the question, but a visit to your local nursery run by seasoned hands can be a crash course in the making. Ask questions and pay attention to what they have to offer. This is a perfect place to start when you're figuring out what you can grow successfully in your area.

8. Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Keep it close. Place your garden where you can see it, where you pass by, or where you like to be. This immediately changes the gardening experience, taking it from burden to lifestyle. Weeding, time spent outside, pest and quality control become part of everyday living -- a few minutes spent here and there, not a time-consuming chore.

9. Don't Wake a Sleeping Baby

If your plant looks happy, it probably is. Watering or fertilizing it more won't make it happier. In fact, it may do the opposite. Believe it or not, there is such thing as over-tending your garden.

10. Let Go of Perfect

Expect one-hit wonders, consistent winners, and losing battles. Don't wait for everything to be just-so to start planting. In fact, waiting may only make it harder. Embrace the fact that gardens are the definition of change. Some plants thrive while others die; you and your garden will evolve together.                                     


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