Gardening 101: Tips to get growing this Garden month

We’ve all heard about the proverbial green thumb. 

Contrary to popular belief, whether you find gardening to be a bed of roses or you think you’re more of a late bloomer, anyone can become a successful gardener with the right guidance and commitment 

The month of April is recognised globally as Garden Month - an encouragement to take advantage of the spring months to grow new plants and tend to existing ones. For beginners, it’s a great time of year to try your hand at gardening and to cultivate your own green thumb. 

Benefits of gardening  

By doing our part to stay home to decelerate the spread of the COVID-19 virus, we may not be able to experience nature or the community garden spaces we are used to.  

As a result, some have turned to tending their personal gardens during the pandemic to enjoy the fresh air outside.  

Whit Connors, Dart Senior Manager Landscape Design and Horticulture says gardening is a good idea as it has proven psychological and physical benefits that aid in overall health and wellbeing. “I do some form of gardening or landscaping every day, he says. “It is very important to my physical and mental health as well as for my family.” 

Plants also add to the appeal of your surrounding and to a property, be it commercial or residential 

“They play a very essential role in the way we design our properties at Dart, says Connors. “The minor details in the landscape makes the overall experience much richer and invigorating.” 


What to grow 

Starting off with low maintenance plants to help you understand its needs is the recommendation of Shannon Schmidt, Dart Horticulture Manager 

“All plants have different needs in terms of water, fertilisation, sunlight requirements, and pruning to perform their best, she says. “Starting with something low maintenance will get you into the habit of recognising the plant’s needs.” 

If you already have access to pre-potted plants or seeds, then you are well on your way. However, if you can’t go to a plant nursery right now, that’s no problem - access to a variety of options may be closer than you realise. 

“The best place to look is around your yard, or the grocery store produce section or even in your kitchen”, says Schmidt. “You can collect seeds from fruits or vegetables - it will be a bit more challenging, but fun!” 

 “Peanuts are also good and fun for kids too,” she says 


Where to plant it 

Depending on where you live, your options for gardening may vary.  

If you live in a condominium, you may opt to grow you plants indoors or on a veranda, as your plants will need to grow in some form of container. 

Whether you are planting indoors or outside, you will need to do some research first 

Plants often have ‘cultural requirements’ - these are things to keep in mind for best results. In Cayman, the cultural requirements for plants are often salt, wind, and drought tolerance. 

“It all depends on the plant, says Schmidt. “In general, a quick search on the internet will allow you to make an informed decision.”  

“Most plants will grow well in moist, well-draining soils, she says. “You’ll usually find a mix of topsoil with some sand in Cayman which often works.” 


Don’t forget the water 

Watering a plant is deemed the most important thing to understand for plant maintenance.  

The wrong amount of water could mean game over. 

“First you need to understand the watering needs of the plant by paying close attention to the soil,” says Schmidt. “Don’t gauge it by looking at the plant itself because ‘too much water’ and ‘too little water’ can look very similar.” 

Instead, she recommends feeling the soil with your hands. If the soil feels moist to the touch then there’s no need to add more water, but if the soil feels dry then the plant is telling you to water it. 


Ready. Set. Grow. 

Like many things, gardening takes patience and commitment to achieve the results you want. The best thing to do is to be realistic with your goals. 

Both Connors and Schmidt’s main piece of gardening advice is to pace yourself. 

“Keep your goals small and reasonable to start, says Connors. “Don’t burn out with large projects, over time you will become more and more efficient with your abilities. 

Take your time to get to know the plants, then you can graduate on to something a little more challenging, says Schmidt.  “As one of my Professors always said, ‘you have to know it to grow it.”