Episode 004: How To Create A Garden That Brings You Joy

podcast cover with image of woman and episode text: 004 how to create a garden that brings you joy

episode highlights

  • Discover the magic in your own garden and learn how to cultivate joy in your outdoor space, regardless of your experience level
  • Learn why growing what you want and starting small can lead to a more fulfilling and enjoyable gardening experience
  • Uncover the benefits of organic gardening for both the environment and your well-being
  • Find out how to embrace the challenges and enjoy the journey of gardening, even when facing off-years or setbacks

Newbie mistakes to avoid in your garden

Gardening has been an integral part of my life since I was a teenager. From moving around as a military spouse to prioritizing my garden in every new home, I’ve discovered that gardening brings immense happiness and peace to my life.

Today, I want to share my personal journey and offer tips on cultivating joy in your garden, regardless of your experience level. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned gardener, I hope I can inspire you to find the magic in your own garden and enjoy the journey, no matter the challenges you face.

Only grow what you like

One of the first things to keep in mind when trying to plant a garden that will make you happy is to only grow what you want. If you don’t like tomatoes, basil, or cucumbers, don’t grow them. Your garden space is better served growing something that you actually enjoy growing and using.

So, choose your favorites and start small. Stick with those favorites and avoid getting carried away or overwhelmed with seed catalogs. This will help you get into a routine and find joy in the process.

Embracing the challenges

Gardening is not always easy, and there will be challenges along the way. Accept that there will be off years and that some crops may not produce as you’d hoped. We are at the whim of Mother Nature, weather, temperature, bugs, and pollinators.

Roll with the punches and work with what you’ve got. Don’t let a bad year get you down – instead, focus on the happiness of being outside, enjoying the fresh air, and connecting with the earth.

Growing organically

Growing organically is important to me because it ensures that the produce I grow is as healthy as possible. It also provides peace of mind, knowing that my kids and pets can play in the garden without any worry of pesticide residue.

If you’re new to organic gardening, give it a try. It can take more effort to get off the ground, but it’s definitely worth it for the benefits to your environment and well-being.

Finding joy in the simplicity

One of my favorite things to do in the garden is to simply sit, observe, and be quiet. Let the birds, butterflies, and bees come and do their thing, and just watch nature around you. This intentional time spent in the garden can bring immense joy and a sense of peace. So, make time to just be in your garden, and let the magic unfold.

Just get started

Gardening is a journey, and there will be mistakes and challenges along the way. But, by focusing on growing what you want, embracing the challenges, growing organically, and finding joy in the simple things, you can cultivate a happy garden and enjoy the process.

Episode Transcript

Hello, hello, and welcome back to Organic Gardening for Beginners, the podcast that helps you transform your outdoor space into a beautiful and thriving garden, no matter your level of experience. 

My name is Jessica, your host and owner of the blog Homegrown Food and Flowers, and today we are going to talk briefly about joy in the garden. Now, if you tuned in, last week, I gave you a little hint that this is something that we don’t often talk about when it comes to gardening. Usually, it’s jumping right into how to plant things, how to grow things, how to start your garden, but today I want to just dial it back a little bit and talk about the why, the why you would want to garden and what else you can get out of your garden and your outdoor space. That is a little bit less tangible than the handful of flowers that you pick or the bowl full of tomatoes and cucumbers that you can harvest. 

Growing a garden is something integral to who I am. If you remember, from the very first episode of the show, I mentioned how I started gardening when I was a teenager, a young teenager. I think I was probably 12 when I started my first garden, all the way through college and moving from apartment to apartment each year, to becoming a military spouse and moving around the US every few years, and even though it’s a bit of a pain to start a new garden every time and definitely sad to leave behind the old gardens, it’s never not been something I’ve prioritized, because I just find such happiness in the garden.

To get us started, one of the first things to keep in mind when you are trying to plant a garden that will make you happy as well as well-fed is only grow what you want. I know that you might have seen pictures of you know, and I’ve even talked about this of tomatoes and basil and cucumbers the very typical summer garden crops. If you don’t like them, don’t grow them. Your garden space is way better served growing something that you actually enjoy growing and using. So just choose your favorites. 

Similar to that is to start small. Stick with those favorites. If you get carried away looking at the beautiful seed catalogs, which I don’t blame you, I’ve done myself, and your cart is just overflowing with seedlings or with seed packets, it will be much easier to get overwhelmed as the season continues and these plants start to need maintenance. They need weeding, they need watering. You need to do something with everything that you’re harvesting. 

It can be easy to get overwhelmed until you just kind of throw up your hands and say I’m done, i’ll wait till next year and I’ll start over. So start small, you get a hang of what you’ve got going, kind of get some routines, get your favorites, get your growing technique down just a little bit, and then start to expand from year to year, even though your summer garden, or spring garden for that matter, is going to need maintenance from you and some hands-on time. 

One of the things I love to do is just go out to the garden and do nothing, just sit, observe, be quiet, let the birds, the butterflies, the bees all come and do their thing and just observe and watch nature around me. As I mentioned before, I know these kind of sound a little bit corny, because, duh, of course, you’re going to see the birds as you’re in the garden, but really being intentional about it and going out there specifically to just relax is a huge part of what makes the garden this special place for me, and I would hope that you can find the magic too of just being out there. 

One of I mean, as you’ll know from the name of this podcast, growing organically is very important to me. Now, organic can mean a lot of things, from the certification that farms have to the label you see at the grocery store. Some people take it as a more natural approach to gardening, and personally, for me, it’s more of that natural way of gardening. 

I don’t use pesticides. I don’t use insecticides. I will sometimes use bacteria like. I don’t remember the name, but it’s called BT. Basically. I call it, unfortunately, caterpillar killer, because when we lived in South Carolina I could not for the life of me get things to grow without some help from this bacteria because of the squash vine borers, the cabbage moths. There was another caterpillar I forget what kind it was, but I had such a difficult time growing in South Carolina. 

I choose to grow naturally and organically for peace of mind. I want to know that the produce I’m growing is as healthy as I can get it, that my kids and my dogs can be out in the garden without any worry of pesticide residue. I would encourage anybody, even if you’re coming from a conventional gardening background, to give organic gardening a try. It can take a little bit more effort to get off the ground to find some balance in your local ecosystem, but it is definitely worth it, in my opinion. 

Lastly, accept that there will be off years with gardening. There are some years where cucumbers just don’t want to produce and there are some years where my lettuce has bolted immediately, even in the cool weather of spring. I don’t know why. It’s not just me. I’ve talked to plenty of other gardeners who have off years as well, but sometimes you just can’t quite get things going for certain crops. That’s just the way it works. We are at the whim of Mother Nature, of weather, of temperature, of bugs, of pollinators or lack thereof. You just have to roll with it and work with what you’ve got and hope for the best and enjoy what you do have. 

If this is your first year and it’s off to a rocky start, or you get a little ways into the season and a thunderstorm, a rainstorm comes through and flattens most of your garden, or you are dealing with squash vine borers that take out your zucchinis before you even harvest it any. Unfortunately, that’s just the name of the game, and sometimes the season won’t go that well. Doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t other ways to appreciate your time in the garden, your movement outside, your fresh air your connection with the dirt. It just means that it’s a bad year, whether for your whole garden or just one aspect of it, and that is just part of it. So don’t let it get you down. Still, see if you can find the happiness of being outside and enjoying your time out there. 

That is all for today’s episode. This was a shorter one because joy is such an individual thing in the garden, but I wanted to mention it briefly because it’s such an important part of me and I want you guys to get to know me a little bit along this podcast journey. So I hope you enjoyed it. I hope that there were a couple of tidbits of information that you can keep in mind as your season gets going, and remember that gardening is a journey. You will make mistakes. I still make mistakes, even after all these years, and I end almost every single season saying well, there’s always next year, so just enjoy it, be along for the ride. 

So next week we are going to dig into companion planting and why I love it and highly encourage you to use this technique. Yeah, I’ve got lots of tips for you, so if you’re enjoying the show and getting value from it, please don’t forget to subscribe or hit that follow button, and I will see you next week. Bye!

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