Gardening 101

Gardening 101Gardening can be intimidating. You may not think you have a green thumb (I used to think I had a brown thumb), be unsure of how to start, or where to start. Plus, it also depends on the space you have. First, let’s tackle the where to garden. Some of you may be in high rise apartments, homes, dorms, or out in the country. Regardless of where you live, you definitely can get a mini (or large) garden going. Here are a few ideas of where to plant…

Tin and potsLacking space, but want an herb garden? Try planting your herbs in some tin cans or terra cotta pots. Make sure to poke holes on the bottom so water can leak out.

Metal containersVintageaddwheelsRaised bedsNot much ground to plant on or have a balcony? Try your hand at some metal containers or find a vintage wooden box and add some casters. Instant raised beds!

Into the groundGot some ground? Then, plant straight in it. You might want to go to your local nursery to find out if there is anything you need to add to the soil to help get it ready for planting. We have really clay like dirt here so I had to buy good planting soil and mix it in to get my ground ready.

Raised wheelsAre you ready to get serious and grow your own produce section? Make some raised beds (and maybe add some wheels to make it moveable). My husband made ours (we used this as a guide), but your local hardware store might have some ready made ones available. If you anticipate possibly having any gopher/mole problems, put a 1/4” wire mesh on the bottom to protect your garden. We didn’t do that in the beginning and started having problems a year later, so we had to take all the dirt out of each bed, put down the mesh, and put all the dirt back in. It was a good arm and back workout! We also have one raised bed with wheels so we can move it around.

WintergardenplanningWintergardenplanningWintergardenplanningWintergardenplanningWintergardenplanningWe have grown tons of stuff… various herbs, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, swiss chard, carrots, tomatoes, strawberries, root vegetables, beets, peppers, and so much more. We have typically done a winter garden and a summer garden. We live in Southern California so we did research on books that were for our specified area. This book has been really helpful for us, but you might want to consult your local garden store for some resources based on your area. We are by no means professional gardeners. We make tons of mistakes and get better every year, but we enjoy the process. Here are a few tips that have been helpful for us…

1. Read up on what you are planting. Ben was the diligent one to do research on what we were planting and how to plant it. There is so much to know and having a garden can get costly, so make sure you study a bit, so you can really take care of your investment.

2. Space plants appropriately. At first I thought you just throw the seeds anywhere and they will grow. No siree. Plants need room to grow, especially vegetables. My husband makes a chart of how far to space everything out. It really makes a difference. As far as my floral garden, I like gardens that look messy and the plants tumbling over each other, so I do plant my flowers a bit closer, but I still give them plenty of elbow space too.

3. Not all plants need the same amount of water. Again, this goes back to reading up on what you are planting. Our first year we grew tomatoes, we thought it was good to water them every other day, then we went to a garden show and listened to a professional tomato grower speak, and he said they really only need deep watering once or twice a week! We did that the following year and got so much better results.

4. Pay attention to the sun. For us, we have found that most things we have planted require full, all day sun, so you will want to plant according to the amount of sun your plant will need.

Tomatoes-1Tomatoes-1Tomatoes-1Again, we aren’t garden geniuses and these things are just basic things you may have heard already, but we just enjoy growing plants and vegetables for our family and encourage you to give it a shot. Having a garden (small or big) is wonderful and gives us yummy food on the table. Plus, gardening is just another way we like to make memories together as a family. Everyone is involved. It is all a learning process and you will learn something new every season. Not everything we have planted turned out great, but get a good garden book and read up on the basics and give it a go. I think gardening is a learn by trial and error thing and you will just get better every year!

Styledpic3Happy gardening!!! -Rubyellen

  • There are some fantastic tips here, not to mention beautiful images. Despite having grown up in the country, where I took gardens and green space for granted, it wasn’t till I moved to Berlin that I started gardening, myself. I have been greatly inspired by some urban gardening projects like the Prinzessinnengärten (http://www.smart-urban-stage.com/blog/future-of-the-city/city-soil/) or the community gardens on the old airfield at Tempelhof Airport. I love how many people are writing about gardening these days – I’m never without inspiration!

  • That’s true. A wooden box is a great object for starting a small garden, especially when you are living in a high rise apartment. It can also be very convenient at the same time. You can place it at the porch or terraces every morning for sunlight exposure, then you can put it inside your room before you sleep. However, plants require a lot of TLC, and like anything else, they’re going to need your full dedication and commitment. Having a garden, and taking care of it, is a full-time job.

  • Hi to all, how is the whole thing, I think every one is getting more from this web page.

  • i heart gardening, and i heart rubyellen! lovely post. i have a small garden, right now. cant wait til it gets even bigger <3

  • How did you get that awesome matt-like effect on your photo’s? :)!

  • lovely! It’s also good to remember that more organic matter solves any problem. Clay soil? Add compost. Sandy soil? Add compost.
    And also – please don’t use pesticides or chemicals. They’re bad for everyone, and there is nothing wrong with a few weeds.

  • Thanks for sharing this! I love to see people growing their own food (no matter the scale) and hope your post will inspire countless others to plant something 🙂

  • this was such a helpful post. me and my fiance have been having an issue with our tomato plant and had no idea that we might be over watering!

    i would love to see more gardening inspired post as this one was much appreciated!

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  • this is so inspirational and beautiful, beautiful that you’ve done this!

    grace
    http://herumbrella.com

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  • Love gardening! Here’s my deck garden http://tulipsandrain.wordpress.com/2012/05/14/deck-garden/

  • Great post Elsie! I’m about to start my very first garden (well, since I was a kid) and I’m so excited! This was great to read leading up to it!

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  • Hey, as a naturopath (nutritionist and herbalist) I just wanted to add in a caution.. as cute as the tin cans and recycled wood containers are, please be careful of certain metals in them that may be taken up by the plant and make you unwell (if you’re eating herbs for example). Tin, aluminium, lead (old paint) and arsenic (used to treat wood to stop termites), can go into the soil and up into the plant. Consider lining your vessels first!

    Happy health!

    Esther xox

  • My most significant gardening decision this year was to only plant things that I WOULD EAT! Every year I’ve guilted myself into planting a lot of things that I don’t actually like to eat and then just ended up tossing them out. This year I cut way back and planted what I knew I would like.

    Now I just need to remember to water…

  • I’m excited to see how my garden turns out this year. It went so well last year, I’m planning one swapping out veggies with friends that planted things that I didn’t. I had a ton of cucumbers last year and would have loved to swap them out for something else.

    Vintagehoneybee.blogspot.com

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  • Great post! Thanks for the tip on the book for those in socal-I can’twait to pick up a copy! Love your raised beds, and the ones on wheels especially.

    underthebeetree.blogspot.com

  • oh I wish I had a garden. or at least a tiny tiny balcony.. well, well. someday I hope!

  • Lovely advice. I love gardening, and am always trying to improve my skills. 🙂

    http://shannonhearts.blogspot.com

  • Hey Rubyellen,
    Thanks so much for this beautiful post – your photographs are gorrrgeous and your veggies are to die for! I love all your ideas about saving/ finding space and planting in tin cans. I live up in the French Alps, and my friend has lent me his garden for the summer. We are halfway done digging it up (it’s 10 years overgrown – YIKES!) but fortunately people don’t plant here until mid-may (now, then!) because the ground is too frosty before that. I can’t wait to get my veggies in the ground and see them grow.

    If you want to have a peek at my garden-in-progress pon the top of the mountain, you can see here:

    http://jesuisunemonstre.blogspot.fr/2012/05/bienvenue-dans-mon-jardin.html

    Hope my veggies will look something like yours!

    Katie. xxx

  • Great post! My mum has an amazing garden where she grows loads of veg that keeps us going for most of the summer, it tastes so much better when you’ve watered it everyday!
    http://afternoonteawithhoney.blogspot.co.uk/

  • LOVE freshly grown gardens with veggies… my mom just planted her summer batch and I can’t wait for everything to be ripe… its always the best!

    xxx
    www.ladyalamode.com

  • I like the idea of planting in vintage wooden boxes. That would work great for someone who has a balcony. I’m a happy owner of a big big garden, but maybe will try it on my terrace:)
    Julia

  • I needed this. I’ve been harassing (not really) bloggers for their gardening advice. And it’s called a brown thumb? All this time I’ve been calling it the death thumb…and I definitely have that right now. Maybe your post will help change it 😉

  • LOVE the idea of growing herbs in tin cans. I’ve got a deck absolutely full of terra cotta pots and am always looking for creative things to grow in. I just started blogging and I adore reading yours. Thanks so much!

  • I always wish I could garden but unfortunately I do not have a green thumb at all!

    These are inspiring though!

    xoxo,
    mon amy

  • Love those little gardens in the city, in the place you less could imagine!
    But as i said time before, i am a plant killer ; )

    http://mykitschworld.blogspot.com.es

  • I love your little garden! =)

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  • Wow, great post and very insightful! I want to start a garden and this is a good boost!

    Brooke

    thebebebirds.blogspot.com

  • *Love* this post! I’ve done some planter gardening already this spring, as we have very little outside space aside from a small back porch (which gets only part-sun). I’ve definitely had to whittle down what I could plant given the conditions… maybe one day I’ll have a huge backyard where I can plant more than just daisies!

    – Kayla ☆ http://www.kaylanaut.com

  • I have a green thumb, I just have it!!
    Plants are one of my strongest love stories!!

    (New blog needing some love: http://inwhirlofinspiration.blogspot.com )

  • Oh wow, so cool! Wish I could do this in my backyaRD. The only problem is I have two dogs who totally destroy everything!

    www.creativityandchocolate.blogspot.com

  • This is such a beautiful post. I am changing apartments in Brooklyn again, and somehow all of my places have backyards. Maybe it is a SIGN (!!) that I should be gardening? I would probably start with flowers and if I ever live somewhere with fresher air and soil, upgrade to fancy plants.

    Annie

    http://eyeshadowgovernment.blogspot.com

  • That’s fantastic (exactly what I was looking for). I bought a condo in south eastern Canada where we have wonderfull summers but since I only have a balcony I have to be innovative. I didn’t do anything last year but this season I’m making a small balcony garden with tomatoes and herbs (the rest of my vegies will be provided by my mother’s garden…since she lives in the country with a huge garden space). My goal this year is to fill my place with greens. So thank you for tips 🙂

  • Thank you so much for sharing this! I just planted my flower garden yesterday and want a garden so badly. I have killed three plants this year, though. Potted plants. I needed this!

    Amanda Rose
    http://sewmuchtosay.blogspot.com

  • THIS IS FANTASTIC, PRACTICAL AND INSPIRING POST!
    CHEERS ELSIE… SUCH A GREAT BLOG!
    X X X

    http://bleednread.blogspot.com.au/

  • I have a little apartment in Chicago & am trying my hand at growing tomatoes this year! I just wrote a blog post about how excited I was to see the first sprout poke its head out:)

    meghan
    alionheartblog.blogspot.com

  • Love this post! Just started my sanctuary in the corner of my yard.. I love the pvc pipe greenhouse thing.. I don’t know what I would do without my plant babies..
    -Tia
    Sewcalmama.blsogspot.com

  • Great post today & grat pics!
    Have a good start of the week!
    http://robertascoolestplaces.blogspot.com.es

  • Great tips, thank you! Can’t wait to try some gardening for myself 🙂

    www.tomatopincushion.tumblr.com

  • Gorgeous photos in this post, and great advice. The only thing I would add is that if you’re planting edibles right in the ground you want to make sure to have the soil tested for toxins such as lead, which can end up in your veggies, making them unhealthy :).

    Otherwise, I’ve found that if you’re not concerned with getting the biggest bumper crop, you can grow just about anything in a container and get at least some yield! Experimentation is the name of the game!

  • I love the post, I would really like to garden but as you say it is intimidating. My mom actually have a garden, which she tend to a lot, alas it is one of the things she and I differ from.

    xoxo, Aves Gry

  • I spend yesterday in our little yard, me and my little girl are growing veg and herbs at the moment.

    Zoe
    http://gypsiesister.blogspot.com

  • This is just the inspiration I needed for starting a new garden!

    Over here in Australia we are just getting into the colder Autumn weather, but I think it’s time to plant some broccoli.

    Great post!

  • Beautiful, beautiful!

    xoxo
    http://natashafatah.com
    http://natashafatah.com

  • I love our little garden and can just agree, more you do it, more you enjoy and have every year better results.

    The vegetables and fruits just smell so much better from if you have see them grow up.

    http://signoraaurora.blogspot.com

  • Gardening is so much fun to do when you live in an apartment. You really have to think outside the box a bit! The Mister and I had hanging shoe racks that we tied to our balcony railing with twine. We grew cabbages in them but rocket or herbs would be better probably. We’ve just moved to a place with a massive garden so we’re adjusting to raised beds!

    Love this post! *high five*

  • I’ve been loving this series of posts – so inspiring and the photos are beautiful! I can’t wait till I move out of my tiny flat to somewhere with a bigger outdoor space. 🙂
    Faye x

  • And I love your photos 🙂
    In our old home we had a huge garden and also planted vegetables and berries there.

    http://glueckskindsucht.blogspot.de/

  • we only have a back yard but my husband still manages to grow tomatoes out there! We are doing our back yard up this summer so that we can have friends round for bbqs or pizzas (we want to get a pizza oven).

    Lovely post and so inspiring as always!

    love
    amy
    x

    http://dottypinkdesigns.blogspot.co.uk/

  • I love the idea of the moveable vegetable planter on wheels – I would love to try that.

    I rent at the moment so it woul dbe the perfect way to grow veg and be able to take it with me if I move on.

    I definitely want to do the self-sufficient Good Life thing of growing veggies that’s for sure!!

    Sarah
    www.acatlikecuriosity.blogspot.co.uk

  • oh my, this is so inspiring to me. i am completely intimidated (but in awe of) gardening. love this guide! xo.
    http://blog.tarapolly.com

  • Wow! great! We’ve only a balcony, but my mom plant flowers and herbs every year (since we live here). And this year I also feel like this could be fun! So thanks for your inspiration and tips 🙂

  • I don’t have any space really to plant so instead I grow upside down hanging tomatoes. There is always a way even if you have no space.

  • Thank you for considering apartment dwellers! I have a tiny porch in S.Korea and have killed all herbs that have walked this way…but vines/big leafy plants fair very well here:) I love the rolling bin idea, it is brilliant! Just a hint of green truly can spruce up a space

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