We are in for such a treat today. Our very own Katie Hobson is back on the blog, and this time she’s teaching us all about gardening.
Yes, Katie is my (and Michael’s) Executive Assistant & she is just SO good at her job. She keeps us organized, in-check, accountable, and we really don’t know what we’d do without her. If you’re just getting to know Katie, be sure to check out her interview on the blog here.
A few weeks ago Katie came to our house to help me get my garden going. When we moved into our house Michael surprised me with some raised garden beds where I could plant my own herbs. Think mint, rosemary, chives, dill, you get it.
But since I’m just so fucking pregnant I asked Katie to come help me. As she puts it, her green thumb runs deep because she comes from a farming family. But I’ll let her tell you all about that.
In this post, Katie is going to share her tips & tricks for starting your own garden, AND keeping it going (the hardest part).
With that, let’s welcome Katie back to the blog.
Hi hi, my name is Katie Hobson, you might know me as Lauryn & Michael’s Executive Assistant, but what you didn’t know is that I’m an avid gardener.
I was raised in a third generation farmer home in the valley of California, so the green thumb runs deep in my family. Here are some of my key tips & tricks to starting & maintaining a garden. I’ve had a beautiful garden on a big spot of land, and I’ve also had a tiny patio garden on an apartment patio—so these tips will work for you regardless of your geographical location is. Let’s get into it:
10 TIPS TO HELP YOU START GARDENING:
♡ WHERE TO START (BEGINNER V. ADVANCED):
Starting a garden from seeds is tedious and requires a lot of attention and care, definitely geared towards the more advanced gardener, but not impossible for a beginner.
If you want an easier route, snag the mature plants, or transplants, at your local gardening store. A huge tip…they’re only going to have transplants that are in season! You have a better shot at success using a more mature plant, but be sure to pick one that looks strong and healthy.
The hardest part of gardening is getting the plant to the mature phase, and with this method—that part is done. This saves you a lot of time and gets you a jumpstart to harvest.
♡ ONLY PLANT WHAT YOU LOVE & WHAT IS ALSO IN SEASON:
Make sure you’re hyped about what you’re planting and that it’s the right time to plant it. You’ll get more out of your garden experience by being thoughtful of what goes into it initially.
If you’re passionate about your garden and tend to its needs, it’ll flourish. Which means you’ll have a good yield, aka lots of constantly ripening things to eat. I tell my husband I’m like a damn garden, tend to my needs—it’s that easy, lol.
Set yourself up for success by planting seasonally and researching what your zone is, find yours here.
♡ RESEARCH YOUR GARDEN PICKS:
Find what grows well in your area using the Farmer’s Almanac (my #1 go-to reference). Get creative with your harvested goodies—look for fun and fresh recipes, make future plans for your fruits, veggies & herbs…get excited!
Once your garden takes off, you’ll have lots of food to utilize while it’s fresh. I love to pickle peppers and cucumbers, or freeze your fresh herbs in olive oil using an ice cube tray to toss into a pan to create a yummy sauce. Genius, I know.
♡ KNOW YOUR SOIL:
There are lots of textures and types of soils. Some are more favorable for gardening and some are not. It comes down to how the water runs through it.
Too much clay? Too much rock? Too much sand? If your soil isn’t suitable to plant right into the earth, consider a raised garden bed or some super cute pots instead. You can always create your own perfect soil situation that allows for water retention AND drainage. It’s key to a great garden.
♡ WHEN TO PLANT YOUR GARDEN:
Depending on your season, some spring/summer plants aren’t ready to go in the ground until the last freeze passes while other fall/winter plants are more hearty and ready to party in the cold. The Farmer’s Almanac will help you forecast the weather and plan accordingly.
Pick your local garden center’s employees’ brains too, they’re always a great wealth of knowledge. When you first plant your babies, they’ll be delicate until they root down, so wait out big rain and wind storms, if you’re able to, before starting your garden.
♡ PLANT PAIRING:
Believe it or not, some plants like to hang together and some hate each other. For example, corn attracts a pest called an ear worm (ewwww) that is detrimental to tomatoes. So that’s a big NOPE to those gals near each other.
However, tomatoes and basil are literally BFF’s—which makes a perfect side by side moment in your garden. Here’s a great reference to learn more about plant pairing.
♡ SPACING IS KEY:
Be sure to pay attention to plant spacing. A little seedling or mature plant might look small now, but when it’s full grown, that garden might get overcrowded.
Overcrowding causes your plants to fight for soil nutrients, which makes a plant verrrrry hangry. Pests loveeee the wet and dark environment that overcrowding can create. Simple research online, on the back of a seed packet, or a plant tag will tell you exactly how much space a plant needs, as well as how deep to plant it.
♡ WATER & SUN:
Your garden doesn’t need a full on soaker hose every day. Overwatering can lead to a disappointing harvest, but so can under-watering, of course. This is an amazing app that helps you track how much water different kinds of garden varieties (and indoor plants!) need. Also, watch your weather and account for any rainfall—free water!
HOT TIP: Water your garden early in the morning or after the sun sets in the evening that way the sun doesn’t steal it via evaporation. If you can set up irrigation on a timer, amazing. If you’re apartment living, here is a nifty watering tool from Amazon that I love to help with watering my potted plants when I leave on vacation.
Most garden plants need 8-10 hours of full sun exposure. Keep this in mind when you are choosing where to plant your garden, being mindful of shade versus sun in your yard/patio. Again, read your plant tags and do research on each plant you put in your garden to see exact sunlight requirements.
♡ CAGING AND PLANT SUPPORT:
Your plant babies will eventually grow tall and weigh heavy with lots of crop. Give them some support with plant stakes or cages to vine around and grow with. They’re super cheap at the store, and will let your plants continue to grow bigger and stronger instead of struggling to carry the weight.
Use a bread tie or some string to lightly knot the stalk to the stake while the little gal becomes strong on its own. Tomatoes ALWAYS need a cage. Caging your tomatoes starts when you plant them into the ground. The plant goes in first and the cage goes into the ground surrounding the plant—bada bing bada boom.
♡ PESTS & WEEDS:
This is a given! Something will get into your garden and terrorize it. If you want to go the easy route, you can shop lots of insecticides/pesticides at the store—YUCK, but no judgement lol.
If you prefer a more natural approach, start by keeping your garden pruned and clean. Low-growing leaves on the lower part of plant stalks are a perfect spot for weeds and bugs to sneak their way into your garden. Pluck the weeds as you see them, monitor for bugs, and research homeopathic ways to keep your garden healthy—there are so many options.
Save your egg shells and used coffee grounds! Soil loves the extra calcium from the egg shells, and the plants love the pest deterrent properties that coffee brings. This guy is my favorite follow on Instagram for all-natural garden tips and tricks.
I hope this helps make gardening a little less daunting. You can TOTALLY do it, just do your research and expect a little trial and error. Get your hands dirty and enjoy what the earth gives back to you if you give it a little love.
Follow me @hangryhobson on Instagram where you’ll find me cooking, gardening, and throwing down some delicious recipes. xx