3 ways to fulfil your love of gardening while travelling full time
Long before I started travelling full-time, I built a large garden in my backyard.
I don’t have a particularly green thumb, but I was able to grow some herbs, fruits and vegetables.
My love of gardening stems from spending time outside, away from screens and phones.
I found planting seeds, pulling weeds, and watering made me feel relaxed and peaceful.
So, when my dream of travelling full-time turned into reality, I had to say goodbye to my garden.
It was a sacrifice I was willing to make, but I still felt the loss.
This story is to share with you some of the lessons I have learned that may help you to fulfil your love of gardening while you travel.
Care for someone else’s garden
If you really love gardening, then house-sitting might be the perfect solution for you.
Every house sit opportunity is different, but you can often tell by the photos and description whether the homeowner is a gardener or not.
Some homes just have a few indoor plants that need a little water. Others may have small flower gardens or shrubs. Occasionally, you will find a house-sit with an extensive vegetable garden or an orchard or a greenhouse filled with rare orchids.
Raised beds are my preferred type of garden. Here I have transplanted many vegetable seedlings that were grown from seed in the greenhouse, then hardened off until we were confident the last frost had passed. Captured by David Masefield in the Kootenays, British Columbia, Canada.
Depending on the season, the activity will vary. For example, if you are arriving at the end of winter, you may get to plant seeds indoors, preparing for the spring. Whereas, if you are there during the harvest time, you may need to gather and store the bounty.
Tips for gardening as a house-sitter:
Ask about unique conditions for that region which might catch you by surprise, such as a snow storm several weeks into spring, or deer jumping the fence to eat the strawberries.
Confirm what the homeowner needs you to do and if it is okay to do anything more than that. Remember, you will leave, and they will need to keep looking after it for months or years to come.
There are many online sites to help you find a house-sitting opportunity. We use a few depending on where we are going. If you are just starting out, I recommend Trusted Housesitters.
BEFORE: Preparing the ground in the corner of a winter horse paddock to become a summer vegetable patch. Captured by Joy Taylor.
AFTER: The new vegetable patch with tomatoes, peas, turnips, beans, sunflowers, button squash and zucchinis. Captured by Joy Taylor.
Join a community garden
If you are house-sitting a home without a garden, or you are staying in an apartment or coliving space that has contract gardeners, then a great option is to find a nearby community garden.
Community gardens are usually run by the local government or a community organisation.
Some offer the option to rent a plot for a season or a year. If that timing doesn’t suit your travel plans, you can offer to help other gardeners or the general public area.
A visit to any community garden will likely show that some patrons were eager to start, but then lost interest or didn’t have enough time to maintain their plot. An extra set of hands, especially those with green thumbs, are usually most welcome..
Community gardens make you feel welcome and included. Captured by Joy Taylor
If the location you are in doesn’t have a community garden, you could also check out a community/neighbourhood centre which may rely on volunteers to look after the facilities, such as the grounds and gardens.
Tip for gardening in a community garden or community centre:
Be sure to read the rules of the garden and abide by them.
Local regulations may be different to what you are familiar with.
If you have the opportunity to establish a new garden at a community centre, consider the ongoing maintenance requirements.
Keep it as low maintenance as possible so it is set up for success after you move on to your next destination.
Be considerate of other gardeners in the community, return borrowed tools and equipment in a better condition than you found them.
Community gardens often have tools and supplies to share. Captured by Joy Taylor.
Pot some plants
When you are renting a house or apartment for a month or two, it is really nice to have some living plants around. If there are none provided by the owner or agent, the next best thing is to bring in some potted plants.
You probably do not want to spend a small fortune getting started at every new location, so I suggest checking out local markets, op shops (second-hand shops) and garage sales to find cheap plants and containers to put them in.
Find unique containers for your plants and put them in places that will make you smile when you see them. Captured by Joy Taylor.
Remember, plants do not necessarily need to be in purpose-made pots.
Look for quirky containers like old teapots, baby baths or buckets.
It is your choice whether you go for flowers and foliage or herbs & vegetables.
I prefer the latter as I enjoy cooking with fresh herbs.
Fruits and vegetables can take a while, so look for fast-growing options like leafy greens, radishes and strawberries.
When it is time for you to move on, you can either sell them or give them away.
A local nursing home, kindergarten or your neighbours may appreciate the gift.
Tip for having potted plants in a short-term rental:
Always protect the surface (e.g. bench, table, windowsill) you are putting the pot on to avoid water stains.
Chat with your neighbours before you begin; you may find they are happy to share their tools and gardening bench to save you from having to buy stuff or getting soil in your kitchen sink.
A pot of colour and a pussy cat in Paris. What more could one ask for? Captured by Joy Taylor.
Find the feeling of fulfilment
Whether you decide to house-sit, join a community garden or create your own container garden, I hope you find the feeling you enjoy the most, the reason you love gardening.
Every community I have travelled to in the world has at least a small group of local people who love to garden. They also love to share their local knowledge.
I encourage you to find them and make some new friends. If you aren’t sure where they are, I suggest you start with a visit to the local nursery or garden centre and the local market.
Searching on Google or social media for gardening groups in the local area can also help you find information and events where gardeners gather.
You may not stay long enough to reap what you sow, but that is not the point.
Embrace the environment, the season, the learnings, the friendships and the opportunity to get your hands dirty.
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Joy has been working her way around the world with her kids, solo and with her partner for over 20 years. Her motto is ‘travel cheap, travel deep’. She built a green house and tries to live a green life. 36/196
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Disclosure: Some of the links on this post will take you through to a page with the option to book an experience or buy an item, others may be to another story or general information. If you do decide to make a purchase at the other end of a link, I may possibly receive a small payment from the company you buy from which helps keep the site operating.
Please do not feel obliged to buy things…always consider if you might be able to borrow it from a friend, or perhaps repurpose something you already own to achieve a similar result.
To date, I have not been paid to write any reviews about places or products, so anything I have mentioned is because I decided to use it. This might change in the future (I hope one day some places in locations I have yet to explore present me with an opportunity!), however, my comments will always reflect my honest opinion of my experience.
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