Now that it seems like most places are finally getting spring, I see people all over social media and home improvement stores buying plants, seeds, soil, etc. to build up their garden. I love it! I’m always a fan of the more the merrier when it comes to plants of all kinds, and have over 25 different types in my apartment already (oh yes, there will be more).
From succulents to foliage to full on farming, I support and highly encourage it all. Last spring my husband and I attempted to start our own garden at our house with vegetables and some flowers to keep pest away and help attract bees. Unfortunately we also discovered one of our dogs loves to dig up and chew on everything we plant.
This spring we’ve been moving to an apartment to downsize before his deployment, and I’m still working out the kinks on how to go about my patio vegetable garden. But! In the meantime I’ve filled some space with houseplants and patio plants to keep me busy and to keep a little nature in my life thriving.
I have run into and overheard people in the garden sections at the store wondering about how to grow and what to do to keep things alive, even having answered questions from them myself, and I figure there are a lot of people out there with the same types of questions. It can be difficult with so many varieties of plant life, and daunting to invest in when you’re not sure how to make it work. I’ve enlisted the help of one of my favorite bloggers, miss Katelyn, to shed a little light on doubts about starting out (we all start somewhere, just dive in!) and some questions those of you who may be new to cultivating might have.
How many plants are you growing right now? What kinds?
Right now I have 9 succulents in my house as well as some garden succulents growing! These are definitely my favorite plants because I tend to be terrible when it comes to house plants. I also have a hanging pothos which is my baby! Recently I’ve mainly been focusing on my garden. I have cool-weather crops growing right now. It’s finally getting warm so they’re starting to do well! I’ve got about 5 different kinds of lettuce growing along with radishes, spinach, cabbage, kohlrabi, red onions, scallions, and sugar snap peas. We also just got a baby peach tree and a lemon tree!
What got you started in loving plants and gardening?
Definitely my mom! I remember always having house plants when I was little and my mom has had a garden for as long as I can remember. We’ve always had lots of raspberry bushes which is probably my favorite part of our garden. I know for sure I’ll carry the tradition when I have my own family.
Do you plant anything specifically to help the bees?
Yes! I have a little section that is my “wildflower garden” and I try to plant some flowers that are known for attracting bees and butterflies such as zinnias, poppies, sunflowers, geraniums, hollyhocks, and other miscellaneous wildflowers. My mom and I also grow a lot of herbs like cilantro, parsley, sage, lavender, ect which are great for bees as well!
Where do you plan to take gardening in your life? House full, yard full, farmer’s markets, big farm?
It is my lifelong dream to have my own farm. I don’t necessarily think my farm would be my family’s main source of income, but I would like to have enough land to provide fresh, organic food for my family, neighbors, and those in need. I dream of having just rows and rows of greens growing, berry bushes surrounding my house and fruit trees out back.
Do you have any recommendations on good starter plants/crops? Any tips or tricks?
When it comes to planting food, there’s a lot that actually do well from seed such as lettuce, radishes, carrots, cucumbers, etc. We tend to buy things like tomatoes and peppers as plants and we choose an organic or heirloom variety.
My number one recommendation is good soil and compost. My garden last year taught me that this is so important. Last year we bought some soil that ended up being not-so-good and the plants and veggies I tried to grow in pots did not do well AT ALL. Good, organic soil, compost if you can get it, and organic, natural fertilizer will be the best for your crops and plants. We have an organic garden so we don’t use pesticides, herbicides, or chemical fertilizers on our plants and we see them thrive so much better this way. And like I said before, learning what you can about each crop or plant will always be helpful because each one may require different needs!
What advice do you have for others about growing, whether it be simple houseplants or growing your own food?
My advice would be to learn everything that you can about each individual plant and what they need in order to grow. This is my first year keeping a gardening journal and I absolutely love it. It helps me keep track of how each plant needs to be watered, what kind of light it needs, when I planted them, etc, etc. You can do this for houseplants too! I like to read lots of articles when I’m planting something new to learn what worked best for everyone else because often times instructions on the seed packets aren’t the most detailed.
Although researching and reading is important, what teaches me the most is trial and error. You can read as much as you want about gardening but it’s something you have to actively have your hands in and I think that teaches me the most.
When I first started out with plants, I did it the same way a lot of people seem to: with succulents and cacti. Succulents are very good starter plants—they can take a lot of neglect. They light bright sunlight—direct or indirect, I have found can vary on the type a little, but mine are currently on my patio in direct sunlight at least half of the day. They are drought-tolerant plants so they don’t require being watered that often. And being from Southern California, now living in North Carolina, they’re wonderful plants for summer because they can handle the heat when a lot of other plants cannot.
Now that I’ve dipped my toes and ankles and hell, been up to my knees, I’ve grown quite the little collection of houseplants. From low light to bright indirect sunlight, I’ve covered my living room with a variety. I love foliage—they’re leafy, vibrant, beautiful—something to really make a room feel cozy, as well as help purify the air.
One of the biggest things I’ve learned is to do my own research. I won’t buy a plant I don’t know the name of, whether it be common or scientific. Those tags you find at the store are helpful to letting you know the basic idea of what setting your plant will thrive in, but for me they’re never enough.
Trial and error has been the biggest teacher. Some soils for some plants don’t work for all of them. Some “low light plants” need more light, and some “water frequently” plants need to dry out a little between waterings. Humidity temperature play a factor too, but the best thing to do is research. Read articles, blog entries, journals. Keep tabs, and try things out for your own plants.
And definitely don’t be afraid to ask someone else what they’re doing for their’s to thrive!
Do you have any tips and tricks we need to know? What kinds of things do you grow? Is there anything specific you’re having trouble with in your garden? Let me know!