How to start your own garden at home


One of the reasons we moved to Austin was better contact with nature. We wanted our home to be a zen sanctuary and living space. One of the things that helps make this happen is the garden.

Gardening is such a good way to get your hands in the dirt and your feet in the grass and it’s such a good thing to work with kids. I plan to grow herbs and possibly get a lemon tree if I feel adventurous.

Honestly, I have no fucking idea where to start when it comes to gardening, but I think it can be learned. I am currently reading a book called It ends with us (recommended by Kylie Jenner) and I’m very inspired by that. The thought of going out into my yard to take a sprig of mint and a lemon to cut them brings me to the edge. Since I had no idea where to start, I thought I would ask an expert.

Ashley Machado and I met at a clubhouse hosted by Cassidy Kmetz. She held out her hand and said she knew a lot about gardening so I knew she had to come Skinny Confidential.

In this post, you will learn what to plant if you are gardening for the first time, how to include children and all the health benefits of gardening.

Let’s get into that right away.


Introduce yourself to the Skinny Confidential community.

Ashley Machado: Hey, I’m Ashley, ah garden focused therapist lives on ours almond farm in California. After I got my first daughter, I struggled quite a bit with postpartum anxiety. I knew nature could help me and I had to be more out there. I made my husband do something for me garden boxes & I planted my first seed in it from my 8 weeks Solly wrap & I never looked back!

It helped me so much that I added gardening to my therapeutic tools for clients. But honestly, my favorite part of gardening is fresh cocktails! Nothing better than Paloma with freshly squeezed juice.

What are the benefits of gardening?

AM: In addition to Palomas, gardening brings many benefits for the environment and for us!

For the environment – helps the soil by preventing soil erosion, replenishing nutrients in the soil, reduces noise pollution, supports pollinators, and plants are natural air purifiers.

For the gardener, it can reduce anxiety, prevent dementia, encourage creativity, increase attention and memory, reduce stress and improve your mood. Total victory if you ask me!

Gardening is an amazing “grounding” and grounding. How do you make sure you always “ground” while working in the garden?

AM: For that reason, you can find me 99% of the time barefoot in the garden! I have three rules in the garden that help me with grounding

1. No screen, 2. No shoes, 3. Be creative and get rid of the need for control.

You can get the same benefits through your hands if he can’t negotiate barefoot for you. Just touch the leaves and rub your hands through the dirt or grass.

Gardening seems therapeutic. Do you have a feeling it’s almost meditation?

AM: Yes yes yes! Gardening has helped me overcome postpartum anxiety and it is actually a form of mindfulness meditation. Attention meditation is when you are aware of what you are feeling and are feeling at the moment. Without a screen and barefoot, it helps your brain focus on the grass under your feet, the scent of flowers and leaves in your hand. If I feel stressed or tense, I will go to the garden, do something breath while I’m out and 100% of the time I go out feeling less stressed or tense.

I’ve also heard that it helps with mental health. Can you clarify that?

AM: Absolutely, the science behind it is that grounding works through our proprioceptor system! Our proprioceptor system is part of our nervous system and also affects our mood. In gardening, you really use all five senses in a calm and relaxing way so it can help you improve your mood.

The other half is that gardening releases dopamine from the time of the greatest harvest of something you’ve grown, and endorphin for part of gardening activity, while lowering cortisol levels by feeling and touching dirt and plants. PS. we all know what Elle Woods said about endorphins!

What are some tips for someone who wants to start a garden?

AM: Let’s think about autumn because it’s yet to come. For starters, start small! Herbs are a good starting point. You can grow them on a window sill if you don’t have outdoor space. If you have space for an outdoor garden, start with one garden box. Plant some plants like calendula,, chives & some kale.

The best advice is if you start a garden for the first time, go to a local nursery and you can buy already started plants, it makes the process a little easier. The beginning of autumn planting should be ready in your local nursery starting in September.

What is the hardest to grow and why?

AM: Celery is far away, it needs a ton of water, it is really picky, and your hands itch and you often touch it.

What are the simple things to grow and what is the best seed to get?

AM: Depending on where someone lives because we all live differently climate zones, these are things that I said are really easy to grow. Rainbow chard,, rocket,, chives,, basil,, calendula,, sunflowers,, zinnias,, kale. I love GMOs, organic seeds and the heritage you can get Seed keepers, Johnny Seeds, or Baker Seeds.

Give us a bunch of little tips and tricks that helped you grow your garden.

AM: Woo woo tip: For starters just keep practicing and planting. It’s always a new season so don’t give up, if something doesn’t rise, it’s okay, try again, the benefits pay off!

Practical tips:

+ Plant a tomato next to the basil.

+ Always plant pollinators (things loved by bees and butterflies).

+ If your tomato plant blooms but has no fruit, shake it quickly, you will trick it into pollinating it.

+ You can buy worms on Amazon to improve your soil.

+ Mint will spread like a wild flower, prune it before seed.

+ Keep your basil short and bushy, not tall and long, always prune it.

+ A spray bottle with 2 cups of water, a few drops Castilian soap, & 1 TBS from cayenne pepper will keep the bugs away.

+ Plant chives with your strawberries. Wear a hat (I have to protect my skin) and do something breathing exercises while you are in the garden.

Of course we want to look cute! Where can we find cute gardening clothes?

AM: Here are some of my favorites: Anthro garden basket,, pink garden hose ,, elegant leather garden gloves, if you want to take sun protection seriously these gloves , and we cannot forget a waterproof knee pad for knee protection.

Certainly the most important thing is to protect our face from the sun, right ?! FUCK YOU FROM THE SUN!! I love a chic straw hat with a ribbon like women in France! I linked several different prices- Amazon white ribbon, black ribbon bloomingdales,, Peter Beaton hat. In the end, a good pedicure!

Children! What is the best way to include them?

AM: It’s really that easy to involve kids! Just take them with you. I am extra and have set up a small garden of fairy butterflies for my little girls. There is a hummingbird feeder, wild flowers for butterflies, & 2 small dollhouses. They play there while I garden. I also encourage them to choose something they want to plant. Let them guide you and make it fun and free. In the end, I have garden box only that they do whatever they want in it. Right now it’s just a sandbox for a free game.

Where can everyone find you? Get down!

AM: I share tips on mental health and gardening on Instagram at @byashleymachado & via the newsletter on our website at

So much good advice, I can’t wait to get started. Do you garden?

Be sure to follow @byashleymachado and subscribe to her newsletter!

Happy gardening,

x, lauryn

+ stem this post if you want to learn more about grounding and grounding.

++ look at these Simple, healthy ways to increase your energy.


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