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Overcoming the Overwhelm of Choice in Gardening: Just Start!

When I first considered starting a garden, I was hit by a wave of overwhelming choices. What plants to grow, where to plant them, how to set up the garden—raised beds, no dig, traditional dig—and the endless advice on soil composition and plant compatibility. It was enough to make me almost quit before I even began. But let me tell you how I pushed past that overwhelm and found joy in gardening.

Houseplants: My Gateway to Gardening

My journey into gardening began with houseplants. They were a blessing for my personality because they allowed me to focus on one particular plant or family group at a time. Through caring for houseplants, I gained a basic understanding of plant needs, like recognizing signs of dehydration or overwatering. This foundational knowledge gave me a bit of confidence when I eventually turned my attention to outdoor plants.

The Overwhelm of Information

Despite my houseplant experience, I was soon swamped by the sheer amount of information available about gardening. There were endless rules about what plants to plant where, which plants shouldn’t be planted together, and the various methods of garden setup. Raised beds, no dig, traditional dig—each came with its own set of rules and soil requirements. It felt like there were too many ways to fail, and I was afraid of losing the joy I found in this new hobby.

Finding Inspiration in Experimentation

During my research, I stumbled upon a YouTube channel called Self Sufficient Me. Mark, the creator of the channel, became a crucial influence on my gardening journey. His approach was refreshingly simple: try things out and see what happens. He buried fish heads and put a raised bed over a tree stump; experimenting without worrying too much about the rules. This attitude was exactly what I needed to hear. It gave me permission to experiment, make mistakes, and learn from them.

Embracing Trial and Error

The fear of failure can be paralyzing, but gardening taught me that so what if you fail? So what if you plant two incompatible plants together? It’s your backyard, your piece of land, and trial and error are part of the process. One of the downsides of social media is the portrayal of people as experts in their niches. We’re less likely to share our failures than our successes, creating an unrealistic standard that can discourage beginners. No one starts off as an expert.

Just Start: There Are No Rules

If I can offer you any piece of advice, it’s this: it’s never too late to start, and there are no strict rules you have to follow. The experimentation is one of my favorite aspects of gardening. Everything is new and exciting when you try different techniques and options. This year, I’ve set up in-ground beds, raised beds, an arch trellis, and I’m even attempting to grow beans up the side of a swing set. Why? Because I think it would look awesome and I needed a free trellis.

Get Creative and Enjoy the Journey

Gardening is about creativity and enjoying the journey. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Whether you’re using unconventional materials or planting in unusual places, the most important thing is to start. The beauty of gardening lies in its flexibility and the joy of discovering what works best for you and your garden.

The overwhelm of choice in gardening can be daunting, but the key is to just get started. Embrace the freedom to experiment and learn from your experiences. Remember, there are no wrong answers in your garden. Every failure is a step closer to success, and every experiment adds to your knowledge. So go ahead, plant those seeds, try out new ideas, and most importantly, enjoy the process. Happy gardening!


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