Tulip – Embrace True Beauty, See all connected with Strength, Give your Devotion to the things you love.
Gardening has no beginning. It has only your beginning. Any season is a good season to start. Beginning with a plan.
Sit down and think about what you want out of a garden. You can have the smallest garden in a house plant to every inch of your yard, or land turned over to a specific purpose in your garden. What do you want out of it, and what you can put into it. Light, space, the plants needs – all should be taken into consideration.
For instance, a small collection of Lucky Bamboo in your office that has only a little natural light. If you feel that you want it to feel greener, cleaner and as a symbol of growth. The tending is minimal – yet important. Or, if you have the space outside – to begin a whole forest, or meadow. From the modest yard to the smallest window ledge. Be inspired by your plan and plants. Let them give you new fresh focus and to be doted upon with joy.
The Rooting of a plan
I spend some time every week filling in a daily planner just for garden planning. I buy books and annual journals to jot down advice to plant things I am interested in. There is a ton of advice from all around us and it is easy to get sidetracked or overwhelmed. This is garden life even for a few plants, or a garden of your future. Focus on the plants you may already have, find references on all the important (and interesting!) things for and of those friends. Write in good times to fertilize, or separate, use the pages between the calendar pages to write details you want to remember, such as sandpapering and cold treating lavender seeds or direct sow dates for corn (in WNC this is a few days after the Dogwoods bloom.) Great personal things to add are moon times and weather predictions from popular gardening annual magazines. I like writing auspicious days for things I do often – pruning by the moon is extremely helpful for me, but may not be for you. It takes me a long time to compile these things, so, I do it for a few hours here or there, sometimes a quick 10 mins to fill in all the full moons of the year on a calendar. It helps me have more time later to fill in sowing or transplant dates for specific seed packets I bought to add to my garden in the spring.
I also draw plot maps. I like to have a good idea of how much space I have and what the plants need for long term planning. I know that I like perennials such as St. John’s Wort that come back year after year, as well as self seeding annuals like Calendula. I want to be sure that the sun cycle will give them enough light so that they grow happy year after year. This also helps me make sure they will not be planted over when dormant or crowded if I find a new plant I get overly excited and try to put in a space too small for long term growth.
I have a modest sized garden, luckily with lots of space to grow – future plans to incorporate, new plants to meet, learn, harvest and include in my life. I live in an area where the grow season is long, and diverse plants can be grown here. Make sure you read and plan for the zone you live in before you jump in. An extra moment to check the hardiness can help you keep from buying or planning long term items that may not do well in your area.
Next week plants that will be planted – will be below ground plants. I should look for Gypsy moths in this area. An old wives tale for yesterday was to watch the clouds and take notes – for the clouds on the 25th of July foretells the winter snow. I wrote a few notes for November to keep an eye out all winter for quick sudden storms.
As I write this – it is Summer. In fact today is full force of the Leo Constellation from Cancer – An auspicious time to jump into new things, such as blogging my experiences. The moon is just beginning its first quarter waxing for the full moon in a week, and that now is the time to plant things I want to grow above ground for an autumn harvest – such as successive planting cilantro, or cut my hair for growth.
Having this on a calendar helps me keep track in a simple and easy to reference way – that also caters to my specific interests. I am also harvesting a few things every day as those plants give fruit. Calendula have begun to bloom, and will continue to do so every day with new blooms from now through October. But the bloom only stays full for 2 days, so picking them often may give a handful at a time, but as soon as they dry, I can harvest a handful at a time to dry for soups, morning oatmeal or teas when I need some summer sun through the winter.
If I were beginning a garden today I would hope to have some ideas and a plan written of what I can do to get started. Perhaps a list of the seeds I’d like to start in the spring, for there is a long time from now to plant anew. To get something green now, I would find a small plot and toss in seeds that will be happy starting now – such as peas. There is time to plant, grow and harvest a few rounds more before the first frost, I have a summer plot already started, so will plant more around that space for some Autumn harvesting.
Anytime is a good time to begin.
If it is Autumn I would try to plan a plot for spring by marking it with a weed cloth now to smother the unwanted grass over the winter. This is also called lasagna gardening, and it can help you get started late in the year for a early spring planting with little fuss. Put a layer of cardboard or paper scraps in a decently thick layer on the space. Cover it with weed cloth or tarp – anchor with rocks (Personal tip: not logs, we don’t want to encourage black widows – I learned the scary way on this). At the end of this season write in your calendar to remove the cloth/tarp and begin composting layers of green/brown matter. And continue even layers.
Compost made easy: The general rules here are 2 inches green, 4 inches brown. Green is grass clippings, kitchen scraps of fruit and veggies, eggs shells, shellfish, coffee grounds, fresh manure from various farm animals (not dogs/cats!). I also never use cooked items – aside from boiled egg shells or shellfish scraps that have not been dipped in butter. No processed foods such as breads, pasta, rice, dairy, fats or meat. The brown – leaves in the fall, layers of cardboard, paper, twigs, medium sized branches, sawdust from the husband’s wood shop, hay, straw, wood ash. Always make sure never to use diseased or items that have had pests.
I have a compost pile – it is always too dry, or too wet, has rough edges and many weeds growing around it. I call it messy compost. After 3 years I have taken more than 12 large wheelbarrow loads of dirt from it to put into the hard clay like soil of my gardens. It has worked wonderfully well, and sure it is messy and mine, and it works just fine for me. I turn it a few times a year, dig out soil from the bottom, put back what isn’t broken down to continue it’s life cycle, and keep piling layers on top.
For a lasagna garden we began talking about, all winter continue to layer what you can on it, and early spring turn the layers you have already placed on it. You can choose to dig down, removing the roots you find of old weeds, or just turn the layers for a no dig garden and begin your planting. By now, if you have been planning the items you are putting in there, you will have started seeds or plan direct sow.
I encourage all to start gathering books, or links to free garden advice on soil knowledge, common pests of the plants you plan to grow, how to care for and harvest the items, what you want to use them for, all the things you have considered in your plans take a wide variety of paths and could be a simple pleasurable green thing in your office, or a full blown do it yourself sustainable lifestyle.
The time you spend:
I spend as much time in the garden as possible. Since I work from home right now – as so many are, I am able to take frequent walks throughout the day. I try to pull weeds everyday, but with more than 500sq ft so far, there are bound to weeds that need pulled again soon. While I walk, my enjoyment is thinking of plans, plants I need to move or groom, tending to each need as it is a living thing. Today I set a handful of chores besides basic clipping and tending for my next block of time in the evening. The marshmallow needs moved, his brother plants have grown past expectations and he is getting crowded or I have put off pulling some carrots but, I need to make tracks thru them to spread the watermelons under the corn for more space on the other squash that do not need to vine as much. And so on. I made sure to make a short list on one of the day pages in the garden calendar for myself of some flowers I saw in a catalog I want to add for next spring. Gardening even a modest space can really grow your interest and creativity.
You will lose plants. You will have forgotten to check the new growth of your favorite rose and all of a sudden have to hurry out to the store for some Neems oil to stave off the aphid population you didn’t wish for, but showed up anyway. You will go through garden gloves quickly till you learn which ones work for you. Gardening is just like every hobby, there will be days when you throw in the trowel (pun intended)
And days when you sit in the sun watching a cool bug till you remember you were picking violas for tea.
It is diverting, heartbreaking and for some the best place.
Anyone looking for me will likely find me talking to plants while a forgotten tea pot screams on the stove. You will spend money on tools if you don’t have them, but simple tools at first are best. Basic tool set lists are easy online, I see tools in photos of blogs like mine and give me ideas on what might be in stores when I look at ones I don’t have. You will gravitate towards tools like never before. Have a free Saturday? – take a look – you may have to hit a few spots, but day well spent. Try thrift shops, craigslist free stuff for curb check – show images will help you quickly be able to pick up pots, small fencing – all kinds of things you don’t expect. Some home improvement big box stores with garden centers may have random plant stands off the side of the outdoor storage area for Dirt/wood/etc. Sometimes people leave their pots there and you might need a handful quickly.
All and all.
There is no time like today to start a garden, if it is mid winter and you just had the brilliant idea to begin, begin! Let not the season hold you back. By the end of the first year, no matter when you began – either you will have immersed your life into what you plan for next year, have achieved the smallest terrarium and want to get a bigger one, and you will have realized garden life is what you make of it and it will grow with you forever.
Herbal plants, love and magic, Always, Malleohheh