How to Start a Garden from Scratch

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I recently wrote a guest post about how I started my garden, and realized I have yet to put a “how to start a garden” post on my own blog. So, today I want to tell you how to start a garden from scratch. Its not as hard as it sounds!

how to start a garden from scratch

My Gardening Beginnings

I still remember when the gardening bug hit me several years ago. I was living in New Mexico and miserable for a variety of reasons. I walked into a grocery store and saw a pot of mini pink roses and bought them for myself.

The rest, as they say, is history. I bought a small pretty container to put the roses in and some dirt and took care of those little flowers. They greeted me from my porch every time I came home.

They really perked up my mood, especially since I was pretty gloomy those days. I was living in the middle of the desert and missed all the plants and flowers that seemed to grow year round back home in Southern California. So, I decided to bring some of that plant life to my little apartment in New Mexico.

I sadly had to leave those roses behind when I decided to move back to California. The desire to start a garden again never left though, so, when I got a chance, I bought a plant, pot, and dirt and watched as plants I took care of thrived before my eyes.

How to Start a Garden from Scratch
My new mums surrounded by other plants in my urban garden.

Small but Mighty

Of course, I didn’t decide to get deep into gardening until my husband and I downsized into our studio apartment, complete with a cute balcony. As you can see from my video and posts, I’ve done a great job of filling up that space with plant life. I even got some more pink mini roses.

Speaking of small spaces, I’ve been able to get plants and containers that I enjoy for a small price. You can spend a little or as much as you want. Since most of my containers are medium to small, I try to find plants that are available in the smallest size.

I’ve slowly been collecting more gardening supplies as my addiction for gardening has grown, but today I just want to talk about the basics.

how to start a garden from scratch

Garden Basics: The Plant

The first thing I consider when I want to buy a plant is the size of the plant. If you are not sure what kind of plant to get, do some research either online or wander around a gardening store for an afternoon. I love going through an Armstrong Gardening Center and the garden section of Home Depot to get ideas.

How to Start a Garden from Scratch
My first chrysanthemum! I love its color and its perfect for my shelf container.

Container

Once you know what kind of plant you want to get, you can pick a container for your plant. I would get something a little large than the plant, so the plant has enough room to grow in the container. You don’t want to get a container that is too small or the plant won’t have a chance to grow and may die.

If you want a sturdy but inexpensive container, I highly suggest you buy the Fiskers Ariana Planter with Self Watering Grid. It comes in a variety of sizes and colors. You can get more details about this planter here.

Soil

Once you have your plant and container picked out, you’ll want to purchase some soil. My personal favorite is Miracle Gro Potting Mix. This soil works well with a variety of plants and the price is great for the quality of the soil.

If you are getting a specialty plant, such as an orchid, tropical plant or succulent, you may want to buy soil specific for that plant. If you are not sure, ask an employee of the store you are purchasing your plant from.

If you are just starting out gardening, this is all you really need. Below is a list of other items you may want to purchase in the future for your garden.

How to Start a Garden from Scratch
Basic Gardening Supplies

Other Gardening Supplies

  • Watering can-I used a plastic drinking cup until I started getting more plant.
  • Trowel-Scooping out soil with a trowel is less dirtier than using your hands or dumping the bag of soil and hoping you don’t spill any.
  • Drill-You want a drill in case you need to drill holes into your container, which will be addressed below.
  • Gardening Gloves-These come in handy when you are handling sharp or prickly plants, or want to keep your hands from getting dirty.
  • Fertilizer-Fertilizer keeps your plants fed so that they keep growing healthy leaves and flowers. I love using Miracle-Gro’s All in One Fertilizer.

Get Your Container Ready for Your Plant

Now that you have a container large enough for your plant, you want to make sure there are holes in the bottom. A container needs holes so that the excess water can drain through. If you let water sit at the bottom of the container, it may rot the roots of the plant and end up killing it.

Many containers already have holes, but if yours doesn’t, invest in a drill. Containers that don’t have holes usually have indentations on the bottom where you can drill holes through.

How to Start a Garden from Scratch
This container already has four holes, but I may want to add more later.

Time to Get Dirty!

After you drill holes in your container, you can now add dirt inside. I added a bunch of dirt until I realized I would need room for my mums. I dumped some dirt out and moved the rest around so that my mums would have a place to grow in the container.

How to Start a Garden from Scratch

I can always add more soil later. Now its time to get the mums ready for planting!

Plant Your Plant

Holes are drilled, dirt is in the container. Now its time to get your plant ready for its new home.

Gently pull your plant out of the plastic pot it came in. You will notice that its roots are wrapped around the soil in came in several times.

You can put the plant in the pot as is, or add one small step to help your new plant grow in its new home.

Hold your plant gently near the top of where its growing in the soil and gently pull the roots loose from the bottom. This trick lets the plant’s roots know it can expand and grow out, instead of wrapping itself around the soil.

How to Start a Garden from Scratch

Now you can gently place your plant where you dug a hole in the soil in the container. If you need to, add more soil around the plant and water it in its new home.

Congratulations! You just started your own garden. If you are like me, you will soon repeat this process with other plants until you have a little urban garden.

How to Start a Garden from Scratch
My mums are now nicely settled in their new home.

Next Steps

I hope you enjoy watching your new plant grow and thrive in its new home. Gardening is addicting and don’t be surprised if you soon find yourself surrounded with more plants.

Feel free to leave a comment below about how your new garden is working for you and if you have other tips on how to start a garden from scratch. I can still learn a thing or two from this endeavor!

Happy Gardening!

14 Replies to “How to Start a Garden from Scratch”

  1. Thank you for the gardening tips! I live in the city, in a townhouse, and would love to grow some herbs, even a tomato plant, or two. I do have a small strip of land for planting. Any advice is appreciated!

    1. Hi Rebecca! You can definitely start a garden at your townhouse. You can garden on your land and/or use containers. Tomatoes and herbs both grow well in containers too :). Thanks for the comment!

    1. That is a great goal to have! I would say to start now, but you probably won’t be able to take your plants with you when you leave. Thank you for the comment and your blog link. I will definitely check it out!

  2. I always wanted to try my hand at gardening but in this concrete jungle in which I live, there is no where to do it. My mom is always at hers so I’d share some of your tips! Thanks!

    1. Not even a corner to place a container :(? I hope you get a chance to garden. Please share my tips and let me know if your mom has her own tips. Thank you for reading!

    1. Awesome! There are many types of plants that would work well in small places both outside and indoors. Let me know if you have your own tips once you get your garden started!

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