Growing a green thumb 101

A beginner’s guide to gardening

Almost everyone picked up a new hobby during the pandemic. Some people started knitting, some took up soap carvings, some began jogging. There were hobbies that endured, like yoga, and some that flaked out (is anyone still making bread?)

One hobby that became popular was gardening, as many flocked to grocery stores and plant nurseries to pick up a few leafy babies. 

If you’re interested in getting into gardening, read ahead for some sure-fire tips that will keep your plants healthy and awaken your inner earth goddess. 

Know your space

While the pineapple plant might seem like a good idea, it’s a tropical plant and probably isn’t going to be too happy during Canadian winters. Similarly, a plant that requires a lot of sunlight won’t do well in a dark environment. You can still have a lush jungle in your basement apartment or a mini veggie garden on your balcony, you just need to find plants that are compatible with your space. 

Start off easy

There are plenty of plants that are low-maintenance and will forgive you if you forget about them. If you’re getting into the routine of caring for plants, opt for succulents, aloe vera or snake plants because they only require water once a month and are nearly impossible to kill. When you feel like your thumbs are getting more green, you can transition to plants that require a little more tender love and care.

Common mistakes

Some people do find ways to kill low-maintenance plants—and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean you didn’t love your plant, you probably just showered it with too much love by overwatering it. If you’re unsure if your plant is thirsty, try poking a chopstick a few inches in. If the stick comes out damp, it’s likely fine. If it comes out dry, you can go ahead and water it. 

Another important tip is to always use pots that have drainage holes, as they allow the water to drain from the soil and enable ample airflow. If you find a really cute pot with no drainage holes, no worries, simply place the pot with the drainage holes inside of your vibrant one and voila! No one will know and your plants will be happy. 

Growing your own plants

If you feel comfortable with your gardening capabilities, you can try growing a plant straight from the seed. One of the most important elements of planting is investing in some nutrient-rich soil. You can tell that soil is healthy if it’s easy to dig and drains well. 

Different plants will have different potting necessities. Typically, you’ll start your plants off in a seed tray, fill it with soil about three-quarters full, moisten the mix, place the seeds and blanket them with some more soil. While it is easier to grow plants and veggies outside, there are some that can be grown indoors. Cat grass is a great option for growing indoors and your kitty will get a mood boost from nibbling on the leaves. If your space doesn’t get a lot of light, green onions are a great option too because they don’t need a lot of sunlight. 

Let yourself make mistakes and focus on having fun!

Forgive yourself if you send a few plants to the morgue. It doesn’t mean that you’ll never be picking fresh basil from your garden to throw into some tomato sauce, you’ll just need to be patient and give yourself more time to practice. One day, that dead cactus will be a distant memory and you’ll be a rockstar gardener. For now, just have fun growing alongside your plants. 

About the author

Reporter at Youth Mind

Olivia Matheson-Mowers is a reporter for Youth Mind. When she’s not writing, or playing with her cat, Daisy, you can find her curled up in her heated blanket watching seasons 1-6 of Dragon Ball Z and complaining about seasons 7-9.

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