One of the reasons we moved to Austin was to get more in touch with Nature. We wanted our home to be a zen sanctuary & living space. One of the things that helps make this happen is a garden.
Gardening is such a good way to get your hands in the dirt, your feet in the grass & is such a great thing to do with kids. I plan on growing herbs & possibly getting a lemon tree if I’m feeling adventurous.
To be real, I have no fucking clue where to start when it comes to gardening, but I do think it’s something that can be learned. Currently reading a book called It Ends With Us ( a recommendation by Kylie Jenner ) & I’m so inspired by it. The thought of going out to my yard to grab a sprig of mint & a lemon to slice up is putting me over the edge. Because I had no idea where to start I thought I’d ask an expert.
Ashley Machado & I met on a Clubhouse put on by Cassidy Kmetz. She reached out & said she knew a ton about gardening so I knew she had to come on The Skinny Confidential.
In this post you’ll learn what to plant if you’re a first time gardening, how to get kids involved & all the health benefits of gardening.
Let’s get right into it.
How To Start Your Own Garden At Home
♡ Introduce yourself to The Skinny Confidential community.
Ashley Machado: Hey I’m Ashley, a garden focused therapist living on our almond farm in California. After I had my first daughter I struggled pretty hard with postpartum anxiety. I knew nature could help me & I needed to be outside more. I made my husband build me some garden boxes & I planted my first seeds with my 8 week old in her Solly wrap & never looked back!
It’s helped me so much that I’ve added gardening to my therapy tools for clients. But honestly, my favorite part of gardening is the fresh cocktails! Nothing better than a Paloma with fresh squeezed juice.
♡ What are the benefits of gardening?
AM: Besides the Palomas there are so many benefits that come from gardening, for the environment & for us!
For the environment – It helps the earth by preventing soil erosion, replenishing nutrients into the soil, reduces noise pollution, supports pollinators, & plants are natural air cleaners.
For the gardener, it can lower anxiety, help prevent dementia, spark creativity, increase attentiveness & memory, reduce stress & boost your mood. Total win if you ask me!
♡ Gardening is incredibly ‘earthing’ & grounding. How do you make sure you’re always ‘earthing’ when gardening?
AM: You can find me barefoot in the garden 99% of the time for this reason! I have three rules in the garden that help me with grounding
1. No screens, 2. No shoes, 3. Be creative & release myself from the need to control.
You can get the same benefits through your hands if going barefoot is a non negotiable for you. Just make sure to touch the leaves & rub your hands through the dirt or grass.
♡ Gardening seems therapeutic. Do you feel like it’s almost a meditation?
AM: Yes yes yes! Gardening helped me work through my postpartum anxiety & it actually is a form of mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation is when you’re super aware of what you’re feeling & sensing in the moment. Being screen free & barefoot, helps your brain to focus on the grass under your feet, the smell of the flowers, & the leaves in your hand. If I’m feeling stressed or tense I’ll head to the garden, do some breathwork while I’m out there & 100% of the time I come out feeling less stressed or tense.
♡ I’ve also heard it helps with mental health. Can you elaborate on that?
AM: Totally, the science behind it is that grounding works through our proprioceptor system! Our proprioceptor system is part of our nervous system & also affects our mood. In gardening you’re really using all five senses in a calm & relaxing way, so that’s why it can help improve our mood.
The other half is that gardening releases dopamine from the high of harvesting something you grew, & endorphins for the activity part of gardening, while reducing cortisol levels through feeling & touching the dirt & plants. PS. we all know what Elle Woods said about Endorphins!
♡ What are some tips for someonee who wants to start a garden?
AM: Let’s think about Fall since it’s coming up. First off, start small! Herbs are a good starting point. You can grow them on your window sill if you don’t have outdoor space. If you have space for an outdoor garden, start with one garden box. Plant some herbs like calendula, chives & some kale.
The best tip is if it’s your first time starting a garden, head to your local nursery & you can buy plants already started, it makes the process a little easier. Fall plant starts should be ready in your local nursery starting in September.
♡ What’s the hardest thing to grow & why?
AM: By far celery, it needs a ton of water, is really finicky, & your arms get itchy it you touch it a lot.
♡ What are some easy things to grow and what are the best seeds to get?
AM: Depending on where someone lives because we all live in different climate zones, these are things I’ve found really easy to grow. Rainbow chard, arugula, chives, basil, calendula, sunflowers, zinnias, kale. I love non GMO, organic, heirloom seeds & you can get them from Seed Savers, Johnny Seeds, or Baker Seeds.
♡ Give us a bunch of little tips & tricks that have helped you grow a garden.
AM: Woo woo tip: First off just keep practicing & planting. There’s always a new season so don’t give up, if something doesn’t grow that’s okay, try again, the benefits are worth it!
+ Plant your tomatoes by your basil.
+ Always plant pollinators ( things the bees & butterflies like ).
+ If your tomato plant is getting blossoms but no fruit give the plant a quick shake you’ll trick it into thinking it’s getting pollinated.
+ You can buy worms on Amazon to improve your soil.
+ Mint will spread like wildflower, prune it before it seeds.
+ Keep your basil short & bushy instead of tall & leggy by always pruning it.
♡ Of course we wanna look cute! Where do we find cute gardening wear?
AM: These are some of my faves: Anthro garden basket, pink garden hose , chic leather garden gloves, if you want to get really serious about protecting yourself from the sun use these gloves , & we cant forget a water proof kneeling pad to protect your knees.
Certainly the most important thing is protecting our faces from the sun, right?! GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE SUN! I love a chic straw hat with a ribbon like the women in France! I’ve linked a few different price points- Amazon white ribbon, bloomingdales black ribbon, Peter Beaton Hat. Lastly, a good pedicure!
♡ Kids! What is the best way to get them involved?
AM: It’s really so easy to get kids involved! Just bring them outside with you. I’m extra & set up a little fairyland butterfly garden for my girls. It has a hummingbird feeder, wild flowers for butterflies, & 2 small doll houses. They play in there while I garden. I also encourage them to pick something they want to plant. Let them lead the way & make it fun & free. Lastly, I have a garden box just for them to do whatever they want in it. It’s currently just a sand box for free play.
♡ Where can everyone find you? Pimp yourself out!
So many good tips, I can’t wait to get started. Do you garden? If you find the whole gardening thing a little overwhelming you could always start with a lettuce grower. I love mine & use it all the time. It’s the perfect size & really fits anywhere.
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+ stalk this post if you want to learn more about grounding & earthing.
++ check out these easy, healthy ways to boost your energy.