An activity you should consider taking up is gardening, which can be quite rewarding if given the right attention. You can have a vegetable garden to supplement your kitchen budget, a flower garden to create a serene and beautiful ambience in your home, or a small garden on your veranda, which can be a good focus point for meditation. You don’t have to own a large piece of land to create a garden – you can start small and build confidence as you go along. This will also allow you to enjoy the work and control it, as less effort is required in a small garden compared to a large one. Here are tips to help you get started.
Having a plan will make it easier when you finally get your hands dirty. Ask your friends or experts like extension officers, or search the Internet for gardening tips. Have a rough sketch of the garden plan on paper and make amendments as you gather more information. This is cheaper and easier than doing it in the garden. A financial commitment is a crucial part of gardening, as seeds, tools, pesticides, fertilizers and labour have to be budgeted for.
Select a site
Make sure the site you choose has ample sunlight throughout the day. This will ensure your plants, especially vegetables; get the needed dose of six to eight hours of sunlight daily. Sunlight is a critical component of the photosynthesis of a plant structure. Avoid starting up a garden near trees. Even though they would provide shade for your plants, the much-needed sunlight will be blocked from reaching them.
Do a soil test beforehand
This can be done simply as a hand test. Take a sample of damp soil in your hands and squeeze. If it forms a soft ball that crumbles easily then you have good soil. Sandy and clay soils are not recommended for gardening. Such soil will need to be reinforced with organic matter like manure for good results.
Lastly, ensure your site is near a water source.
Know plant hardiness in your area
A geographically defined area in which a specific category of plant life is capable of growing determines plant hardiness. This means you need to know which plants grow best in your area. Knowing what can thrive in your area is important so you avoid growing things that require a lot of rain when you live in a hot, dry area. Most vegetables like tomatoes, cabbage, sweet potatoes, carrots and spinach do well in most parts of the country especially Central, Nairobi, parts of Rift Valley, Nyanza and Western regions.
Garden pests and weeds
Not all living organisms in gardens are harmful. Earthworms do a great job of turning the soil by mixing the subsoil with the topsoil. Nevertheless, pests and weeds can make the hard work you put in your garden futile. Learn all you can about it before you start up. Putting mulch around your crops will serve two extra purposes, preventing the growth of weeds and assisting in temperature control and water retention. To avoid insect and pest infestation, space your garden well. If they persist, fight back with the right pesticide or insecticide.
Keep learning: As a first-time gardener, there is a need to expand your knowledge, which experts and old hands also do. In addition to the Internet, libraries can supply you with a lot of books on the topic.