Happier Starts: Tips for a Happier Garden

There’s no shortage of resources out there on how to create a wonderful garden. If you can access your local garden center (or Google), you can figure out what grows well in your area, how to design a growing space, and so on.

This isn’t about that. This is about having a garden that makes you happy. This is about having a garden that makes you happy even if you’re not much of a gardener. I used to kill every single houseplant I ever owned, and I am here to tell you that what I look forward to most every summer is gardening, because it just makes me happy. It turns out that gardening makes lots of other people happy, too, so I’m in good company.

Regardless of what brings you to it, your garden should make you happy! So here’s a few handy tips to make it so:

1) Plant what you like. Self-evident, right? Short of trying to grow cacti in Alaska or drought-intolerant flowers in the desert, pick the plants that will bring you joy. I grow fruits and vegetables, because I enjoy cooking (and eating). The actual landscaping in the front of my house is pitiful, because I don’t care as much about that. Veggies make me happy; that’s where I put my effort.

2) Front-load your success. Growing veggies? Plant zucchini. I don’t even care if you like zucchini; zucchini is easy to grow and hard to kill and even if everything else gets screwed up, congratulations, you’ll have zucchini. (Zucchini bread and even zucchini brownies are delicious, if you don’t appreciate the squash in its natural form.) Growing flowers? Don’t be ashamed to go to the garden store and ask “What do you have that’s really hard to kill?”

3) Spend at least a few minutes out there every day. There is zen to be found in the soil, for sure, but even just the observation of daily growth is something that’s likely to brighten your mood. You had some dirt and some water and a seed and now you’ve got a giant plant (and maybe even food). That’s a miracle right in your yard!

4) Make peace with the circle of life. I use things like diluted soapy water spray and diatomaceous earth for pest control in my garden because I’m kind of a hippie-wannabe, but I won’t judge you if you use chemicals. No matter what you use, though, the fact remains that critters will find their way to your plant babies and eat some (or all) of your hard work. Know this and try to view it as part of the fun. (I always grow more than I need, in the hopes that the bugs will leave us enough!)

5) Make it a group activity. Get your family involved to spread the fun around. (Most kids love picking their own food!) Talk with friends and plan on collaboration or sharing; one of my dearest local buddies and I swap our garden overage, so we each get to enjoy more variety.

I’ll stop there — I’ve got gardening to go do!

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