My brain likes when I dig in dirt. There are likely many scientific studies that explain this phenomenon - what hormones are released or what interactions between our human biology and micro-organisms in the dirt make me so calm and happy - but honestly I don't NEED to know. I just know that it works. And I'm not the only one for whom it works.
I spent the first nine years of my life living in an apartment. Our 'yard' was a paved extra parking space. I remember four plants from those years: the lilac tree in the yard, cracking the pavement; the morning glories that grew by my bedroom window; the chive plant that somehow never died; and the tulips my mother planted every fall and took so much joy in every spring.
When I was nine, my parents bought a house. One of my mother's greatest joys was being able to have a Real Garden. It was lovely. She grew a lot of flowers. My sister insisted on growing a lot of tomatoes.
I've always equated home-ownership with having a garden. A big enough yard to have a massive garden was one of our Must Haves when my sweetie and I were house-hunting. We ended up buying a place with a 50' x 60' backyard, which by city standards for a house our size -not huge- is pretty nice. We converted ~480 square feet into our main garden and discovered a 8' x 12' garden when the snow melted. (We bought our house in March. In Quebec.)
HOWEVER. You do not need a giant back yard to have a garden. You don't even need a house to have a garden: I had a few small kitchen gardens in quaint wooden crates on my balcony in Vancouver, where I lived for the bulk of my twenties.
There are a lot of things you can grow very successfully with limited space, even limited sunshine, and there are many more fun products that make this easier than it has ever been. At the end of the day, all you need is a patch of earth, sunshine, water, and a few seeds.
March 29th will be the 2-year anniversary of us taking possession of our house. There's a lot that a house needs in the first couple years, so it took us a bit to get to one of the things I have had legitimate fantasies about since I was in my early twenties: yesterday and today I celebrated the spring equinox by building my own plant nursery!
As much as buying plugs is nice (a few things are finicky and I'd rather buy them already as teenage plants), there is a strange satisfaction to starting plants from seed. It's also less expensive. (IN THE LONG RUN. The upfront costs of setting this up are a 40$ we already had, 350$ of grow lights, the 25$ plug set we already had, a 75$ heat lamp, and two scrounged up blankets. I save containers for transplanting plugs into as they grow, but if you don't have all of this to begin with... it can easily cost you 600$ or more to set up. It can cost you WAY MORE as well, if you want fancy things. We are cheap. Most of my peppers are moving into old pint containers of Haagen Dazs, my tomatoes, into large McDonalds tea cups. Waste nothing, friends.)
Above, the whole blue tray is strawberries, the bottom shelf starter tray (25$ at Vesey's, I LOVE IT) is full of four types of tomatoes and tomatillos, and the other plugs (recycled from previous garden-centre-purchased plugs) are full of peppers. I'll start all my melons and cucumbers in a few weeks, but even if you live in a warmed zone than I do - hai, Zone 4! - it's not too late to plant seeds. Most people will be able to plant seeds or seedlings in the ground already, but for us in the colder zones, we generally have to wait until mid-May. (You can direct-seed the following things in the ground even earlier, so long as you can work the soil: onions, most leafy greens, beets, turnips, peas, parsnips, and poppies, if you are so inclined.)
If you've never gardened before or have an apartment/limited space, the only thing I'd advise you AGAINST growing that many lifestyle companies seem to think is a lovely plan is tomatoes and peppers. Both are nightshades and nightshades will NOT thrive in a small pot. Each individual plant needs about 4 square feet (2' x 2').
Instead, I would suggest herbs like mint, chamomile, or basil, all of which can be harvested and made into tea or pesto! Strawberries are also fun, don't take much room, and the lifestyle sections of some major book retailers even have lovely little kits! (The kits for herbs are also often very good, just please avoid the tomatoes!)
I would love to give this particular Ecocube to someone out there. Legally, I cannot do a giveaway (Quebec, for those of you who aren't in the know, is weird about so many small things), but if you would like it, please leave a comment and fill out the contact form on my Home page with the word "STRAWBERRIES" in the comments field!
I have some extra seeds and, if anyone has the capacity but not the means to leave their home, I would be THRILLED to share some of my seed stash! I have a lot of vegetables and about 100 packs of wildflowers. I will mail them to you so long as I have stamps! If you are interested, please fill out the contact for with the word "SEEDS" in the comments and what you'd most like to grown and I'll let you know if I can help make that happen.
Take care and get your hands the *right* kind of dirty! (Please wash them very thoroughly afterwards!)
Training to be the Wise Granny who Knows Everything
It may not be the end of the world, but it never hurt anyone to be prepared.