The Ultimate Guide To Gardening For The Complete Novice

by Sarah Ruhlman
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If you have never considered gardening as a hobby before, the chances are that these pandemic days have seen you have a change of heart. Covid-19 has made people across the globe reassess their priorities. While individuals were once concerned about the curb appeal of their home, achieving a promotion at work, and having a sporty little number parked on the driveway, people are now more bothered about spending quality time with their families and enjoying the great outdoors. Materialistic things no longer have the same importance as prior to these pandemic days. Coronavirus has made everyone question their motivations and what they want to get out of their very short time on the planet.

More people than ever have been enjoying the outdoors as lockdowns have forced us to retreat into our homes. People are working from home and are no longer socializing in the same way. Virtual meetups are popular, but that physical contact has become a little lost. Coronavirus caused a sudden shaft in a mental well being and lifestyles. We can no longer head to the cinema, enjoy a drink in the pub on a whim, or travel on a train without a care in the world. As people have spent more time at home, they have also taken more interest in their gardens. Our gardens are our little outside havens of tranquillity and we have found solace in soaking up the rays outdoors.

If you are keen to get a little bit more hands-on with your garden, consider getting a little bit more green-fingered and take a look at this ultimate gardening guide for the complete novice.

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Sustainability

During the lockdown, everyone has become more concerned about the economic environment in which they live. Supermarket and grocery store queues were long at the beginning of the pandemic as people began to panic about food shortages. Of course, this didn’t come to fruition yet it didn’t stop people stockpiling toilet roll and dried pasta. To be more sustainable and to cope in a more measured way should a second lockdown have to come into force during the autumn and winter months, people have taken to using their gardens to grow their own food.

You can consider the fruit and vegetables that you eat most and sow the seeds in your garden. Growing vegetables isn’t all that hard – you just need to follow some simple rules. If you are planting from a pack of seeds, the rear of the packet will have all of the guidance you need. Think about growing easy-to-sow and fast seeding crops. Carrots, pak choi, and potatoes are some of the easiest to maintain vegetables around. 

Think about building your own vegetable raised beds. A couple of old reclaimed railway sleepers or some tired old wood knocking around in the attic is perfect. You can use whatever shaped frame you wish and fill it with a decent multi-purpose compost. This frame doesn’t need any special foundation – you can lay your raised veggie bed on lawn, soil or gravel. As long as you have around six inches of compost, your seeds will take and grow. Potatoes go straight into the compost about four inches deep. Within ten days you’ll see some green shoots appear if you keep the plant well watered. 

Other crops like pak choi, tomatoes, and herbs need a little bit more nurturing through their initial sprouting stages. Plant these in a seed tray and spray water them daily. If you have a greenhouse, place them in there with plenty of airflow, or keep them in a shed with a propagator lid. Propagating the seeds isn’t too hard and when you have some shoots with leaves, you can begin thinning out the seedlings so that only the strongest win out. When they are a couple of inches high, they are ready to transfer into your vegetable bed.

Growing vegetables can be a lot of fun and you can experiment with all sorts of weird and wonderful fruit and veg varieties. Get the kids involved to tear them away from their video games and tablets. They will love spending some quality time with you outdoors and you can teach them about where their food comes from.

Planting Borders

When you take a look at other people’s gardens, you might be strick at how mature, developed and colorful their foliage is. It takes time to get a garden to look so established. As you are starting from a blank canvas, you need to design the color combinations and height that you would like. Think about going easy on yourself for the first couple of seasons. Easy to maintain perennials are the simplest and often most beautiful flowers and plants available. 

Consider your soil type and the drainage you have. Poor drainage can result in waterlogged root systems meaning that your plant will die. Consider installing a trench drain that will be under the earth at a gradient to coax the water away from your garden plants. If your soil is clay-like or loamy, opt for plants that grow well in these conditions. All garden centers and nurseries have labels with the plants they sell to help the keen gardener get the best out of the flower. Aliums, hydrangeas and daffodils can look stunning. For height and a touch of the exotic, consider an acer or lemon tree. Palms grow well in sunny and humid conditions and the flowers can look spectacular.

Mental Health

Gardening is often thought of as the lockdown’s version of yoga. Many people have been finding ways to be mindful when out and about in their garden. While weeding your borders may sound like a chore, being outside, following a monotonous routine, listening to the birds and soaking up the sun’s rays, can enhance your mood and give you a sense of positive mental well being.

Gardening gives you time to relax and switch off. Caring for plants and seeing them attract pollinators, birds and wildlife is exciting and gives you a sense of fulfilment. Many people think of gardening as an old person’s pastime but millennials are embracing the art of manicuring lawns, planting seeds, and creating wildlife havens. Many twenty somethings are spending their time at home in their back garden enjoying pruning, deadheading, and weeding.

Watering

Plants need sun, nutrients and water. Water is the main thing that you can really control. Different watering strategies are required for different plants. You cannot head out with your watering can every evening in the summer and give all of your plants the exact same amount to drink. Some plants, like palms, will be happy with just one drink of water a week. If the plants you have a showing any yellowing of the leaves, the chances are that they are thirsty and you need to up your watering. Pay attention to what your plant is trying to tell you. They will provide you with the warning signs for you to pick up on.

Most plants prefer water twice a week rather than every day. If you opt for an every day watering regime, the chances are you won’t water enough, and what you do provide will be lost in evaporation and not touch the root systems. A larger drink of water twice a week allows the soil and roots to retain more moisture to cope in the heat. Forget about pouring water from a jug. There’s a reason sprinklers exist and watering cans have holes at the end of their spouts. It’s more gentle to water this way as leaves don’t get damaged and water can be dissipated through the soil easier.

Taking Care Of Your Plants

You cannot simply plant your seeds, bulbs and plants, and hope for the best. They need nurturing. A large part of this is protecting them from pests. Bugs tend to crop up when the plant is stressed, so ensure it is watered well and in the right location. Head to your local garden center to check out the organic products that will deter pests rather than going down the pesticide route.

The easiest thing to prevent is weeds. They can be a nuisance, but you can get rid of them. Many gardeners like the ease of a hoe to grab weeds by the root. Others prefer to get on their hands and knees and really feel the root of the weed with their hands. Whatever is easiest for you is fine – just make sure you weed regularly. It can take you by surprise how they just tend to crop up. It’s important to get rid of them as they can take the nutrients away from your plant resulting in plant wilting.

Gardening is great fun and a simple way to get you outside. It’s not just for old people – it’s for everyone. Millennials are chomping at the bit to head outdoors and plant their latest rose, cabbage seeds, or daffodil bulbs. Follow this guide and turn from a green-fingered novice into a fully-fledged gardening pro.

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