A simple guide to getting started in gardening

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Sometimes, after a hectic day, I look up from my stupid phone and realize it’s dark outside. Somehow I spent the whole day solo, working on my large digital rectangle and having fun scrolling through the smaller one. What kind of existence is this?

In the heart of the confinements, I swore that I would never take time spent with friends, family, co-workers, or even coffee shop interactions for granted – but here I am. Maybe I forgot how to socialize? Or do you find it more tiring these days? Anyway, I’m not the only one feeling disconnected. Last year, Headspace found that more than half of young people in Aus feel a sense of loneliness.

So what do we do ?

If we feel all alone, we need to find ways to connect. A decades-long Harvard study found that close relationships are what keep us happy throughout our lives. But it can be hard to know where to start – putting yourself forward is intimidating.

If you’ve been secretly watching this sweet, old little one on the street pulling weeds or admiring her roses and wanted to try it for yourself, now is the time.

Gardening is good for mental well-being and a global study recently revealed that connecting with nature can even make us feel less alone. Jackpot.

Plus, you can speed up the connection by hiring someone else to garden with you. Sharing it will add a sweet social element to the mood-boosting hobby.

If, like me, you have baby-soft hands that have never seen a hard day’s work in their life, you’ll be starting at square one. I’ve done the research for you, so you can get out in the sun and stick with your new hobby.

1. Look at the room

Before moving on to the right idea, let’s equip ourselves with the right equipment. As a beginner, you’ll want to get some gloves to help you grip heavier tools. Plus, they’ll keep your hands clean and protected. A hand trowel is your best bud for planting, moving soil, and removing weeds. And, of course, a watering can or hose to water your babies. And if you do get involved, be prepared – you spend a lot of time outdoors, so also put on a hat, sunscreen and bring water to drink.

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2. Find a local community garden

Community gardens are run by everyday people in bustling cities to produce food and foster a more sustainable future. Plus, joining one means you’ll find like-minded locals to hang out with.

This nifty site will show you where your nearest garden is. It’s also worth checking out your neighborhood Facebook group (these parents always know!) or reading up on those flyers on your street. If you don’t have a garden nearby, you can always grab some friends and sign up to start your own with the council.

Most community gardens have a cost. This helps cover expenses for things like mulch and fertilizer to help manage the space. And, you can reap the rewards from the vegetables, feel proud to do something ~grow~, and feel part of the community. Since community gardens are run entirely by ordinary people like you or me, there is no money to dip into. They need serious love to keep thriving.

Lipton Ice Tea helps Australians come together and connect in nature by providing funds to transform community gardens. From getting your hands dirty, weeding and spreading mulch, to bringing gardens to life with new plants, beds and power tools, they help brighten up community gardens. By ensuring these spaces are maintained, it means more of us can enjoy and connect in the small slices of local beauty.

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3. Ask Your Green Thumb Friend

Every friend I’ve had who loves gardening is really in gardening. It’s like a cult. Once they start talking about how to grow tomatoes, they don’t stop. Find that mate and choose their brains for all the best advice on what to do – more importantly, what not to do. Better yet, step into the garden together! You’ll enjoy the experience even more if you catch up as you go.

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4. Do your research

If you want to get the most out of your new era of Mother Nature, do it well. The last thing you want when trying to feel more connected is to cause serious damage to a shared garden that a bunch of other people have been working hard on. Eep – it’s a surefire way to feel left out. RResearch what you’re doing before you dig (sorry). Know which plant varieties do well in certain seasons and what can kill them. If you’re looking for the basics, check out some resources on the Community Gardens Australia site and check your local garden’s specific rules. Or just ask your new gardening friends!

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Go get your friend and get those hands dirty. You’ll feel so much better for it!

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