If you are anything like me, gardening might sound expensive and like a lot of work. However, backyard gardening is something Plant with Purpose encourages to all of our partners. These partners often are struggling with a lack of capital, and gardening is actually a way to generate income. Here are some tips we have learned, in part, thanks to partners that teach us resourcefulness and farming wisdom.
Why are gardens important?
Starting a garden may feel intimidating or like lots of work. Yet it is so valuable. Not only does it add value to our personal lives, but value to the planet and every person who relies on it for their livelihood. Here are a few BIG benefits of starting your own garden.
- Access to yummy herbs and vegetables right outside your door
- You can’t get any more LOCAL than your own backyard
- Plants eat carbon and give us more oxygen
- You get the choice over how your food is grown
- Gardening can become a form of meditation and creativity
You do not have to go all in right away. Many people think that to start a garden you have to go to the store and buy all the materials on the same day. It is actually better to start after you have learned to take care of a few plants first. Start small with a few herb plants. Basil, rosemary, tyme, ment, and oregano are all super easy and you reap the benefits almost right away. You don’t have to make a garden bed yet! Herbs love pots. If you kill your herb plants, maybe you should practice on a few more before starting your garden.
Soil health is everything
Soil is everything! A plant gets so many nutrients from the soil. It needs to be full of yummy nutrients but also deep enough for roots to flourish. “How it is below, is how it is on top.”
This farmer saying means that a plant will only do as good as its roots.
- Find a location that gets enough sunlight, but is also easy to irrigate.
- COMPOST. Food scraps make the best fertilizer and richest soil.
- Don’t just buy potting soil. Manure is much cheaper and you need a mixture of both.
- Certain plants love high acidity (like tomatoes). Add coffee grounds and orange peels straight into the soil to increase your soil acidity.
How to save when getting started
You don’t need to go on a big shopping spree. Gardening can be very affordable and encourages us to be resourceful and use what is already around us.
- If you want to build a raised garden bed, find wood scraps. Ask your local grocery store for wood pallets. Find a construction sight in your neighborhood and ask if they have any extra wood. You might be surprised by people’s generosity!
- You can plant your food scraps. There are lots of vegetables that you can stick right back in the ground. Cut the tops of carrots, pineapples, and celery and stick them in your garden. Let your sweet potatoes grow spuds, cut them off, and stick those in the ground as well. Why buy plants when the ones you already eat have new life to offer?
- Propagating is another way to avoid pricey plants. If your neighbor already has a garden, ask to take a small stock and stick it in water until it grows roots. This also works with the basil, rosemary, and cilantro you buy to eat.
Do your research
If you plan on investing in store-bought plants, do your research. Find out what is in season, what grows best in your area, and where the best place to buy is. Certain plants like certain types of soil. Yes, the internet has tons of information, but you can also learn a lot from the experts around you. Ask questions at your local gardening store or to your neighbor with the best garden. Most knowledge of farming is passed down through word of mouth so start talking with people in your community. Gardeners love to share their expertise.
God actually encourages his followers to plant gardens. He has a lot to say about the partnership between a farmers work and his own power that commands growth. On the other hand, he also says that we are like a garden. God promises to water his disciples and make us fruitful.
Gardening is a discipline, but it also can be a meditation. When working with our hands and concentrating on a physical task, the worries and consuming thoughts of our day often fade away. Sometimes I catch myself in a trance when I am gardening. Time seems to stand still. I lose awareness of any physical discomfort or pain. My thoughts run away. In these moments I feel distant from the world and closer to God. Stewarding creation connects us to our creator.
Want even more sustainability tips? Check out the official Plant With Purpose Guide: 88 Ideas for Living Sustainably. Best of luck on your new garden.