How to Grow a Healing Garden at Home
Since the start of the pandemic, gardening has experienced a resurgence in popularity. For one thing, having a vegetable garden can be a great way to deal with some of the food shortages we’ve all experienced. But gardening can also have a number of wonderful benefits for your mind and spirit.
If you’ve ever thought about starting a healing garden, there’s no time like the present! Read on to learn how to start a garden and discover what you should grow in your healing garden.
Benefits of Starting a Healing Garden
Before we dive into all the ways you can start growing a healing garden, let’s talk some about the benefits of starting a garden. For one thing, gardening is great for your health. Not only does it burn a lot of calories, but it can also increase your Vitamin D levels, lower your blood pressure, and encourage you to eat healthier.
Gardening can also be an excellent respite for your mind, soul, and spirit. Gardening relieves stress, restores confidence, improves self-esteem, and can even boost your mood. You may also find a wonderful sense of community through gardening as you connect with other people who also love growing their own food and herbs.
When you get ready to start gardening, the first thing you’ll need to do is to decide what sort of garden you want to grow. You can choose among indoor gardens, in-ground gardens, raised bed gardens, and container gardens. Each has their own benefits and challenges, and which you choose depends a lot on your space.
If you have a large yard that gets plenty of sunshine, you may want to consider digging an in-ground garden. These can be easier to water properly and may be a little less expensive since you don’t have to buy grow pots or soil. However, you’ll have to contend with weeds, manage irrigation appropriately, and rely on the weather to keep your plants healthy.
Raised Bed Gardens
Raised bed gardens can be a great middle ground between in-ground gardens and container gardens. In this system, you build beds that are a few inches high on top of your yard; some people even choose to build large rectangular beds that sit on legs so they’re accessible from standing height. You fill these with soil and plant your garden there, rather than directly in the soil.
Raised beds can be a great option if you have plenty of space, but not very good soil. These beds generally don’t have as many weeds, and you may find that they produce more abundant harvests since roots can grow in soft soil. However, they do require some woodworking expertise and they do mean buying a large amount of dirt.
Container gardens are a fantastic option for people who are short on space or appropriate growing weather. As the name suggests, a container garden is grown in, well, a container. This usually involves a grow bag, a large pot, or some other portable vessel that’s large enough to give your plant room to grow.
A container garden is the perfect option if your yard doesn’t get a lot of sun or if you don’t have enough space to set up a permanent garden. You can move your containers around and even bring them inside during dangerous weather. However, these gardens can be relatively expensive and may be a little harder to water appropriately.
Pick Your Spot
If you plan to start an in-ground or raised bedgarden, the first thing you need to do is to find a good patch of land to do it. If you’re planning to grow an in-ground garden, look for a space that will provide good drainage, quality soil, and plenty of room for plants to spread out. You should avoid growing on steep hills or anywhere where water gathers in your yard.
Begin by keeping an eye on how much sun each spot in your yard gets. You can time this manually or set out a sensor that will track how much sunlight falls on a specific spot in an average day. Look for a spot that gets at least eight hours of sun a day, and try to determine which areas get six hours and four hours.
Test Your Soil
Once you’ve picked your garden spot, you’ll need to check the quality of the soil there. You need dirt that is a good mixture of soil types and that offers all the nutrients your plants will need. It’s a good idea to take a sample of your soil and send it to your local agricultural extension for testing.
You can also run a test at home to see what types of soil you have and whether you need to mix in other types. Get a cup or so of soil and place it in a large glass jar. Fill the jar with water and a squirt of dish detergent and shake it for about two minutes.
Set the jar in a window for a few days and allow the mixture to settle back out. The soil will separate into layers based on the density of each component, and you’ll be able to see how much sand, loam, and so on you have in your soil.
Now that you know where your garden is going and what your soil is like, it’s time to break out the shovels! If you’re doing an in-ground garden, start by marking out the boundaries of your garden. Put up any fences or barriers you plan to use, and start turning over the soil.
It’s a good idea to dig down about a foot to loosen the soil and get it well oxygenated. Based on your soil tests, decide what amendments you need (compost, nitrogen, calcium, manure, organic fertilizer, etc.) and mix those into your freshly turned soil. Make sure you remove as many weeds and grass as possible and break up any large clods of dirt.
If you’re planning a raised bed or container garden, now will be the time to fill your garden with dirt. You may be able to buy soil in bulk from your local nursery or garden center. Make sure you fill the containers all the way to the top, and consider laying in a layer of rocks at the bottom of the beds or containers to improve drainage.
Research Planting Times
With your garden prepped, you’re almost ready to start putting plants in the ground. But first, you need to do a little more homework – this time about when to plant different things. Your local agricultural extension, co-op, or gardening club can all be good resources for this, as can online almanacs and seed packets.
Different plants want to go in the ground at different temperatures and will be ready to harvest at different times. Often, planting recommendations will be based on your hardiness zone or a certain number of days after the last frost. You can look up your hardiness zone and your average last frost date online.
Gather Your Equipment
Starting an indoor garden may not involve as much soil work as an outdoor garden, but you may need more equipment. Depending on how much sun you get in your home, it may be a good idea to get some grow lights. These lights emit UV rays that mimic the sunshine and are excellent for nourishing indoor plants.
You’ll also need to get containers that give your plants enough room to grow and expand. You may choose to use large pots or grow bags, just like you would with an outdoor container garden. You can also get large trays or troughs, provided they give your plants’ roots enough space to grow.
Decide on a Gardening Style
You’ll need to decide whether you want to do a soil-based garden or grow your plants hydroponically. Hydroponic gardens skip the soil and grow plants directly in water. This can be a great way to give your plants the nutrients they need without having to deal with huge (and expensive) bags of potting soil.
Hydroponic gardens can be grown indoors or outdoors, depending on your light availability. These healing gardens may require a little more setup and equipment, but they require much less maintenance than a traditional soil garden. However, they can be more prone to diseases, especially if you allow algae to grow in your water.
What Is Hydroponics?
So how does hydroponics work, and should you consider it when you’re planning your home garden? In general, plants need a few things to grow and thrive: sunlight, water, nutrients, and oxygen. While traditional healing gardens rely on soil to provide the latter two things, hydroponics add these into water.
Hydroponic gardens grow plants directly in a nutrient-rich water bath that uses an air pump to infuse oxygen into the mixture. Your plants can get everything they need from this water (except sunlight, of course), no soil needed. But it is very important to make sure you get your nutrient mixture right and provide plenty of oxygen to your plants when you’re growing hydroponically.
There are a number of hydroponic systems you can buy online, but these can get somewhat expensive. Instead, you may want to build your own hydroponics system to nourish your plants. You’ll need to start with a deep, opaque storage container or large bucket, an air pump, and proper nutrients.
Drill a series of holes into the lid of your container for your plants to sit in, and then assemble your air pump outside of the container. Fill your reservoir with water and add hydroponic nutrients according to the directions on the container. Place the air stone of your pump in the reservoir, turn on the pump, close the lid, and get ready to add plants!
Simplest Vegetables to Grow Indoors
When you’re picking vegetables to grow indoors, you want to look for plants that are more shade-tolerant. Leafy greens can be a great option for this, since their large, broad leaves tend to absorb every little bit of light. Kale, leaf lettuce, spinach, and arugula are all great options for beginning gardeners.
Root vegetables can also do well in shadier environments. Beets, carrots, and radishes are all good choice for indoor garden vegetables, and you might even be able to grow some potatoes! You can grow cherry tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers, but these plants will likely require grow lights, as they need plenty of sunlight.
Simplest Herbs to Grow Indoors
There are a number of different herbs that can thrive in your indoor herb garden. In general, you’re going to want to stick to some of the leafier herbs, since they can handle a bit more shade. Basil, sage, mint, and parsley are all good options for an indoor herb garden.
Chives, oregano, and thyme are also fantastic options when you’re planning your indoor herb garden. All of these herbs add plenty of flavor to food and thrive in an indoor environment. You’ll want to avoid rosemary, bay leaves, and cilantro, as these can be a little more finicky indoors.
Simplest Vegetables to Grow Outdoors
When it comes to planting a garden outdoors, what you grow will depend a lot on where you live. If you live somewhere very cold, warm-weather crops like squash and melons may not do as well. Likewise, if you live in a warmer climate, you may have a hard time getting your broccoli and lettuce to thrive.
In general, there are a few vegetables that are easy to grow and safe bets for beginning gardeners. Lettuce, green beans, peas, and radishes are all good starter vegetables, as are carrots, cucumbers, kale, Swiss chard, beets, and zucchini. Make sure to check your local agricultural center for recommended planting and sowing dates.
Simplest Herbs to Grow Outdoors
Much like vegetables, there are some herbs that will grow better in warm climates and others that will thrive in cold weather. Looking up hardiness zone recommendations for the herbs you want to grow is a good idea if you’re planning an outdoor herb garden. But there are a few tried-and-true herbs that should be able to thrive anywhere.
Sage, parsley, and oregano are all good options for the beginning herb gardener, especially since oregano comes back every spring. Mint is a famously aggressive plant, and thyme does well even in dry soil. Dill, chives, cilantro, lemongrass, basil, bay laurel, and tarragon are all simple to grow and a great choice for beginning herb gardeners.
Nutritious Foods to Grow
It should come as no surprise that many of the most nutritious foods you can grow are leafy greens. Kale, spinach, Swiss chard, red cabbage, kohlrabi, and collard greens are all packed with vitamins and other nutrients to fuel your body. Other green veggies like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, green peas, and asparagus contain plenty of healthy nutrients.
Carrots are a great nutritious option, since just one cup of carrots provides more than 400 percent of your recommended daily vitamin A. You might be surprised to learn that garlic is another great option, as is ginger. And sweet potatoes not only have plenty of vitamin C, but they’re also a complex carb.
Best Herbs for Home Rituals
If you want to grow herbs in your healing garden for home rituals, sage should be at the top of your list. This herb is purifying and cleansing and has been used in ceremonies for hundreds of years. It’s simple to grow, and garden sage provides the same ritual benefits as white sage, which is being overharvested and is at risk in the wild.
Basil is another great option for your home rituals, since it is thought to provide protection and to ward off evil spirits. You may also want to consider peppermint, which can help to repel negative energy and boost your mood. Chamomile can be another fantastic choice for your healing garden, since it promotes friendship, healing, and luck.
Rosemary and lavender are fantastic herbs for home rituals, but they are more challenging to grow either inside or outside. Rosemary can cleanse and purify spaces, as well as bringing newness and clarity. Lavender is said to be relaxing and can help to improve your mood.
Learn How to Start a Healing Garden
Starting a garden can be a fantastic way to reconnect with nature, lower stress, and grow your own nutritious food. You can grow these plants either indoors or outdoors and even in your own DIY hydroponics system! Leafy greens are a great choice to grow, as are sage and basil, since they’re easy to grow and nutritious.
If you’d like to learn more about how to start a garden, check out the rest of my site at PaulWagner.com. I am here to help you awaken and bravely create an inspired life. Learn more about my services today and start changing your life in the most positive way.
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