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Lessons From a Beginning Gardener

Just do it. The key to beginning your first garden is simply to dive in. Don’t worry about failing or messing something up. You probably will, but you will also learn that plants are much more resilient than you think. The rewards of success far outweigh any consequence of failure, so be fearless and take your first step!

Start small. Do something easy at first, like buying a full grown plant and taking care of it. Give it just a little bit of attention every day. When it doesn’t die, pat yourself on the back for your success and foray out into the broader world of gardening!

Ask for local help. There are reams upon reams of gardening articles available online, but how do you search for the answer to a question you don’t know how to ask? This is where a real conversation with a live human being is helpful. If the internet can’t answer your questions directly, use it to find local resources who can! Find these breathing repositories of horticultural wisdom through local meet-ups or a community garden.

Pay attention. Much like baking bread or brewing beer, growing plants is not an exact science. It’s more like an interactive art project. Think of yourself as a student of a foreign language and your plant as a native speaker, and you’ll have the right idea. Check in on your plant daily and you will begin to understand what it needs. Be mindful of such indicators of poor plant health as wilting leaves, stunted growth, and discoloration. Learn to respond to these indicators by adjusting such factors as soil moisture, light exposure, and temperature.

Underwater. This common mistake in gardening is also the easiest to avoid. Don’t overwater your plants! Even with proper drainage, it’s better to water less than more. I haven’t experienced root rot yet (as far as I know) but it’s sounds scary and difficult to fix. Plants need oxygen as much as they need water, so make sure they can breathe.

Celebrate small victories. My first attempt at succulent propagation is on it’s way! I am seeing a few small roots shooting out of the leaves right now. This is exciting and calls for a toast.

Be patient. Don’t give up on your plants easily! When I repotted my aloe plant it looked grey and floppy for weeks. I was about to commit its remains to the great beyond when I noticed signs of improvement. It ain't over ‘til it's over.

Enjoy the view. My home office is in my kitchen next to a windowsill full of my plants. Whenever my mind wanders or I’m mulling over a web analytics conundrum, I find myself admiring my little garden, and feeling calm, happy, and proud. No matter where you live, you can grow your own great view.

Share your new hobby. As many great minds have recognized, the best way to learn is to teach. By sharing with your friends and family what you’ve learned about gardening you will not only become a valuable resource to them, but you will solidify your own grasp on the horticultural arts. Additionally, who knows what valuable knowledge and growing strategies the people in your life already have? Start the conversation and everybody wins.

It’s an addiction. While I’m still a little too intimidated to try growing things from scratch, I’ve already started planning my next plant purchases. I’ve fallen for my little kitchen garden and can’t wait to replicate its lovely and calming effect in my entire home!

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