Can you believe that the first two months of 2021 have already flown by? Spring is just around the corner, which means it’s time to start preparing for the growing season! If you don’t have a garden yet, let me convince you to try out your green thumb in 2021.
I have been a home gardener since 2018. I started with only basic plant knowledge and a desire to spend more time outside. Over the past three years, my garden has just become more and more beautiful every year as I learn and experience more. Even with little experience and knowledge, you can begin just like I did. You don’t need to know all that much, let alone be a horticultural pro! I am still an amateur, myself, but I don’t let that stop me from enjoying this amazing hobby!
All pictures in this post are of my own garden!
Have a designated space for your plants.
Don’t think you have space to garden? You’re WRONG! You ALWAYS have space to have a garden. If you don’t believe me, just check out my mini-oasis:
As you can see, I don’t have access to the ground and I still have a beautiful garden to enjoy. I recommend starting with container or raised bed gardening methods.
Container gardening is pretty self explanatory - you use a variety of containers like pots, planters, or even repurposed items like glass jars to plant in. This method is great for anyone with very limited space and being able to move your plants is a great convenience!
A raised garden bed will take a little more space and effort usually. This is great for people who may have more space for gardening, but inadequate access or quality of soil to plant in. In essence, a raised bed is a frame that sits on the ground that you fill with dirt and soil for your garden. I have two varieties: the stone bed was already there and filled with beautiful flowers when I moved in, but I created the wooden one from a bookshelf. If you use wood, make sure it’s properly weather-proofed (I didn’t do a thorough job with this, and now my raised bed is rotting away)! You can even buy pre-made raised beds, but these types of planters usually aren’t as mobile as containers.
And, of course, there is the classic in-ground planting method. I am not as familiar with planting directly in the ground due to my space limitations. Even if you do have the yard space available to dig out your garden, you’ll want to make sure that the ground isn’t too hard, cold, or wet to plant in. You’ll also need to be sure that the area gets enough sunlight to support your garden, and it may even be worth checking into the PH of your soil.
For all methods of gardening, you want to make sure that there is enough sunlight and that you have enough soil space for what you plan to plant. For example, you could easily grow some herbs in a small mason jar, but you would need a bigger planter for tomatoes. Consider how big the plant will grow to be (many seed packets have instructions for how far to space your plants). And make sure that the soil gets enough drainage; a plant that sits in water continuously will likely not be a happy plant!
Grab a few materials.
Next you’ll want to make sure you have some supplies to help you out. My must have is a good set of gardening gloves. They keep your hands protected and much cleaner than they would be without them (soil has a tendency to stick to your hands and get everywhere)! Another necessary tool is something to water your plants with. Depending on the size and location of your garden, this could be anything from a simple vase or watering can and could go up to a hose with a light spray function. Gloves and watering capability: they are my two must-haves.
Some other helpful tools could be a shovel, spade, rake, and cutter set. These will help you tend to and harvest from your garden. You can also try little starter pods to begin planting, that can later be transplanted easily into the soil. Another favorite tool of mine is a little collapsible stool - much more comfortable than sitting on the ground!
Some plants may require certain tools, too. Plants with thick stems will need sharp shears in order for you to harvest, and tomatoes will usually need a trellis to grow on for support. Make sure you know the basic information about what you choose to plant, so you can have all of the knowledge you need to help your garden thrive.
Decide what to plant.
Many plants that you’ll grow in a garden will do well with typical soil suited to the climate. I like to combine similar potting soil of different brands for my containers and raised beds. If you’re growing in the ground, make sure you thoroughly till the dirt and mix in some potting soil to enrich it with nutrients.
No matter what you choose to plant, make sure they are suitable to grow in our climate. Most, if not all, plants sold in the area will be able to be grown here. If you’re interested in planting something a little different than usual, do your research and make sure it will be happy living in sunny and dry NoCo!
You will also have to know if you should plant directly from seeds or purchase starters. I recommend using the Farmer’s Almanac for this area to understand when you should start seeds indoors, transfer starters or sprouts outside, and plant seeds directly in the ground. The almanac has a wealth of other information, too, make sure to check it out for more details and information on gardening and growing.
Before you put anything in the ground, make sure that the area you’re using will get enough sunlight. Most seed packets will have instructions for the amount of sun needed for that specific plant, and a whole bunch of other info.
Personally, I love growing strawberries, bell peppers, and flowers the most, but there are a huge variety of other plants to try! Try growing something that you’ll want to eat. Here are just a few suggestions to get you thinking:
- Bell pepper
- Green beans
Keep your garden healthy.
Start by watering your plants according to any instructions that may come with it, or look up the plant’s needs with the Farmer’s Almanac. Make sure you note if there is an unusually low or high amount of precipitation because this will affect how often you should water. If you’re finding that your soil is usually pretty wet, water a little less often. If leaves start shriveling and browning, you may need to give a little extra.
Gardens thrive with healthy trimmings. It keeps some plants from overcrowding others, removes diseased or dying parts, and lets your plant dedicate more energy and resources toward creating beautiful blooms and produce! If you’re expecting one of your plants to return the next growing season, make sure you prune it back some in preparation for winter and even more in late winter/early spring. This will help facilitate new growth and a stronger plant!
Living in Colorado, we know that the weather can be unpredictable and volatile, even in the summer months. While you likely won’t be able to avoid all adverse weather from affecting your plants, strong weather can make your plants stronger, too. Wind helps strengthen stems and trunks in particular, but unusually powerful winds and flying debris could still be bad news. The cold can help with a plant's hardiness, but extremely freezing temperatures could kill, especially sprouts. For both the wind and the cold, you should let your garden be under normally expected conditions, but do your best to protect them when it gets really gusty or close to freezing temperatures. Some plants will do better in these conditions than others.
Colorado hail already causes huge amounts of damage to homes, businesses, and vehicles every year; just imagine how bad it could tear up fragile leaves and flowers! If you can protect from the hail by either moving or covering your plants, you should do your best, but don’t endanger yourself or feel bad if a hailstorm hits unexpectedly! For all of these scenarios, move your plants to safety if they’re in containers, or cover/protect otherwise (I place a 5-gallon bucket over my plants if I’m expecting hail, or a tarp would work if a snowstorm is coming).
When it comes to unwelcome pests and guests, my rule of thumb is that if my plants are healthy, I don’t worry too much about what kinds of bugs live in my garden. You should examine your plants often to look for evidence of pests, like leaves being eaten or a sickness in the plant (make sure it’s not because of watering). If you can figure out what is getting your plants, it will be way easier to take care of. If you can find the bug, type a basic description and the location you’re in (northern Colorado) in Google, and you’ll likely get a lead on what you’re dealing with. From there, I recommend trying natural or homemade remedies first and then moving to more intense options if necessary.
Also, make an effort to attract healthy bugs and pollinators. Butterflies, bees, ladybugs, and spiders are some of the best residents for a healthy garden; you can get them to visit by planting certain plants or flowers that attract them.
Make it special and unique to you!
Decorate your garden to make it a perfect space for you to spend time in. I have some chairs, a mini table, and a sun umbrella on my patio, but it’s the windchimes, lights, and suncatchers that make it my favorite place to be. If you’re going to spend so much time caring for your garden, let yourself enjoy it!
The girls at Earle's have everything you need to transform you space into your dream garden! Check out our stone/seaglass art, art poles, garden steps, windchimes, bee balls, sculptures, and other décor.
I also recommend you try your hand at record keeping. This can be formal or informal. In the past, I just snapped a few pictures of my garden throughout the summer, but I slowly progressed into taking an assortment of weekly pictures and measuring height. This year I plan to keep a small journal so I can keep track of the growth and health of my garden.
Here are just a few tips to make your gardening more enjoyable and relaxing:
- Use the internet! Learn as much as you want, but at a minimum, learn the basics about what you’re planting so you can easily care for them.
- Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Gardening can take a lot of work if you get ahead of yourself. Start small and learn, then you can build more and more on your experience every year!
- Don’t be afraid of trial and error! Although you could probably find a comprehensive guide to perfect gardening online, most of the fun is learning for yourself with your hands.
- Use gardening as a relaxing mechanism, not something to add to your stress! If you feel stressed about your garden, you may need to cut back. This hobby should only bring happiness.
Gardening is a great way to spend your time and explore new hobbies. When I first started gardening, I had no idea it would be such an important part of my life now! During the summer, I spend as much time as I can with my plant. I eat breakfast in my garden whenever I can! Spending time outside is great for your health, and it’s easier than you think.
If you liked this post, please share, and tag us in any of your gardening pictures or posts on Instagram (@earlesloveland) or Facebook (Earle’s Loveland Floral and Gifts). Thank you for reading and I wish you luck in this growing season!