One of the most common barriers that prevent people from growing their own food is complexity. Imagine, you finally decide to grow a garden but then you read about the commitment necessary to start a garden: buy this, make sure to have that, be careful of this...and the list goes on. After reading up on all the requirements of gardening you might be feeling pretty overwhelmed.
Surprisingly, gardening is much simpler than you may think. You can get started as early as today, we’re not kidding! Here’s our beginner’s guide for all you need to start your food garden in under five minutes.
Start small and keep it simple
Gardens needing a lot of space is one of the biggest misconceptions we hear every day. If you are new to gardening, start small and keep it simple. Start with one plant, like arugula or a herb, and do that well. (Many plants take no more than five minutes of your time every day.) Then move up from there.
Photo by Matt Montgomery
You can even challenge your roommate and see who can grow theirs quickest.
Know your time investment
There’s a gardener’s saying that goes “the best fertilizer is the gardener’s shadow.” When you plan to grow, think of how much time you can give to your plants.
Photo by Webvilla
If you only have 5 minutes a day, that’s fine; there are many plants that only require that much time from you (arugula, radishes, lettuce, or onions to name a few). Grow them indoors by a window you pass often if you need to be visually reminded.
Whether you grow plants indoors or outdoors they need light. When growing outdoors, find a spot that doesn’t have much shade from nearby trees or your house. When growing indoors, look for a place by a window that gets sunlight.
Photo by Tatiana Lapina
Short on sunlight? Grow your plant indoors and substitute sunlight with grow lights or fluorescent lights
Everything you need to have
Many websites will give you extensive lists of tools and things you need for a garden. But if you’re starting small, you can count on your fingers everything you need.
Seed or seedlings
We generally recommend starting with seedlings, baby versions of the plants, since it’s much quicker to see your plant’s growth. Find the closest seedling supplier by searching “garden nurseries.”
Need help getting started? Here’s a list of the easiest vegetables to grow
After deciding whether to grow plants indoor or outdoors, choosing a container is your next step. Containers vary in size to fit your needs. What’s most important is that your containers have holes at the bottom to allow for drainage.
We recommend starting with a small container, like a pot or a planter box. Many of the plants we list above fit in these small containers.
Pick soil that is good for fruit and vegetables for your edible plants. Think of soil as the natural multi-vitamin pill that a plant uses to stay healthy.
If you already have soil at home, here’s a five-minute test to check your soil’s pH level using only vinegar and baking soda.
Optional: Get a bag of fertilizer or compost and add some at the base of the plant every month.
If you are only growing a few plants in small containers you really only need these tools to start:
- A hand spade
- A watering container, like a hose or a pitcher
- Optional: gloves
The rest of the tools are only necessary if you have a bigger garden.
And that’s everything you need to know to get started as a beginner gardener. Ready to start gardening? Download the My Green Space app to easily manage your plants including instant reminders to assist you through your plant’s life.
Header image by Benjamin Combs