Two years ago I came to gardening as a way to do some self care and spend some quality time with friends and family. For a first timer, there were many problems (and of course, dead plants), but I truly enjoyed gardening as much as I enjoy my other hobbies. Taking care of plants forced myself to spend time focusing on something I wasn’t familiar with. I learned new things along the way, got to know my neighbors, and made friends by sharing and learning with each other. Here I have a few tips for you, if you’re also interested in getting start with gardening.
First, start with local and easy-to-grow plants. I know that many of us have our favorite flower or veggies or fruit, but pay attention to the local ones and see what species are commonly grown in your area. You can ask a local park ranger or staff in a gardening store to see what are your best choices. This means it will take less expertise from your side to grow them, and you can enjoy them in their favorite environment, too.
Then you need to be very patient and do it step by step. Don’t expect them to grow over night. For me it became a daily ritual to look after my plants and my level of patience grew much higher. Through this process I felt that gardening can be a very good way to de-stress, because you turn to stay calm and extra careful while dealing with your plants, and that’s something we don’t usually do in our daily life.
Last but not least, I recommend gardening because it’s a great talking points during social occasions and a great way to make new friends. Through growing my own plants, I started to exchange seeds, manual, and gardening tips with many more people. We almost all did our “mini gardens” in flower pots on our apartment portico, but that doesn’t mean we couldn’t grow beautiful plants. It’s a low cost and semi-outdoor activity for students who spend most of their time in the office and library.
So think about it and see if you have the interests, time, and patience to start your own gardening project, and let me know if you have other suggestions for me!
Mingqian Liu is a fourth-year doctoral student in the Department of Architecture