Gardening for BeginnersComments Off on Gardening for Beginners
Gardening for Beginners:
How to get your garden in tip-top shape for the UK garden season
The time of the year has come when life blooms and buds blow in the oncoming Spring breezes. The earth takes a breath and exhales with a puff of fluorescent flowering.
And with that tide of growth floating in, it’s a great time to start considering the amazing seasonal food it’s bound to bring on shore.
Nothing in life tastes so sweet as food picked fresh from your own garden. The fruits of your labour come to fruition, their flavours full of a brimming sense of achievement.
But while this season of life may arrive with a sense of reassurance, for those taking their first steps into the seemingly daunting world of gardening, the prospect of complex plans and projects may feel like a slightly overwhelming one.
And so, with the gardening season fast approaching, I feel it’s the perfect opportunity to offer some beginner’s tips on how to give your garden (no matter what the size) a real sense of purpose.
The gardening beginner’s top tips for Spring include:
- Sowing seeds
- Maintaining your garden
- Making your own raised bed with ease
Let’s get dirty! When to start sowing seeds
Margaret Atwood once wrote, “In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” So how about we start there?
If you’re not keen to get your hands dirty, you may want to rethink your gardening intentions…
Gardening can bring with it the act of getting into a right mucky mess! But we can also view this as an opportunity to reflect on our connection with the earth. At the end of the day, that’s what gardening is really all about; connecting with the seasons, and intimately understanding the processes that form the foundations of our food.
Too many of us now feel a disconnect from the food we eat. Picked from its plastic packaging on shop shelves, it’s easy to forget where our food actually comes from. Getting our hands dirty helps put us in tune with the food itself.
In that spirit…
With Spring in full swing and summer fast approaching, now is a great time to begin sowing your seeds. Of course, it’s never too late or too early to start planting, but perhaps that’s a conversation for another day.
But for now, April and May in the UK is a great time to start sowing hardy annuals, herbs and wildflower seeds outdoors. For some tips on how to sow seeds then check out this handy article from the RHS.
How to get started
So, you might be well on your way to getting your garden ready for the season, but it’s also not too late to get started. This can mean a number of things.
Firstly, keeping weeds under control.
Before I begin, it’s important to note that there are a number of weed varieties that can plague your garden. Some will require a more drastic response than others. For a more in-depth look at weed response, I found this article very useful. Having said that, weed killers are never an absolute necessity. Hoeing, hand-pulling/hand-weeding with a fork, cutting and using a weed knife to get to weeds between paving slabs are all good control responses. There’s also the question of when to use weed barriers, but these are more preventative measures that will be more relevant as a response during the early spring and winter months before annual weeds begin to appear.
If you have citrus plants, now is a good time to consider increasing their feed and water consumption. Overwatering in winter is one of the most common causes of stress in citrus, so it’s important, over those months, to keep them fairly dry.
Monitor the heat and increasingly dry weather and respond appropriately by watering early in the morning, before the heat hits the plants, and late, once the sun has begun to settle.
Open greenhouse doors and vents on warm days to prevent overheating.
If you tend to mow your lawn then you can now begin to do so on a weekly basis (but consider keeping some uncut for wildlife), to encourage denser turf while simultaneously ridding yourself of potential weeds. Of course, there are also a lot of great benefits to keeping your lawns uncut, such as encouraging the growth of wildflowers and a biodiverse garden community.
Protect existing plants from frost damage. Frost can affect your plants, and is especially damaging to tender new growths and blossoms in the spring. I found this article incredibly useful for better understanding the prevention and treatment of plant frost damage.
How to grow vegetables in your own raised bed
So now I’ve talked about sowing and maintaining your plants, I think it could be useful to also promote the raised bed method for growing your own veg.
A cheap but effective way to define your growing area, as well as a great way of introducing vegetable growing to young children, a raised bed can be a fantastic method for growing veg for beginners.
So, if you’re about to embark on a summer of gardening and growing your own vegetables, it’s not too late, now is a good time to get started.
A simple raised bed can truly be put together in the space of an afternoon. It can be an inspiring and even blissfully joyful task to take on, so don’t feel afraid to learn something new and practical!
First of all, you’ll need your essentials. Timber and compost or topsoil will form the bones and bed of your raised veg patch.
Then, you just need to put it together. Here’s my method:
You will need:
Roof purlin. They come in several different lengths, but you’ll want to ask the timber yard to cut a long length of roof purlin (which is pressure treated) into four equal lengths (size dependent on how big you want your raised bed to be).
8 Very long nails or screws – about 6 inches.
Bags of topsoil and compost.
Now you can put it together:
In a suitable place in your garden, either over some existing soil/veg patch or on your lawn, nail or screw the four pieces together to form a square.
If the raised bed is to be on the lawn, dig up some of the grass to loosen the soil beneath.
You do not need to remove all the grass as the covering of compost and topsoil will deprive the grass of light and it will die.
Fill the frame with the topsoil and compost, level the surface.
And that’s your raised bed done!
So, with the gardening season on the rise, you’ve never been more prepared.
Spring is bliss, and so is the garden, let’s learn to live in and off of it.
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Have a great week,