If you’re just getting into gardening and could do with some help and advice to set you on your way, we’ve got just what you need: handy tips from gardeners from across the blogosphere. These growers have planted and grown it all before, so give yourself a head start by learning from their wealth of experience. Here are five golden rules of growing for newbies.
The first thing to remember about gardening is that it’s supposed to be fun. Learning anything new can have its frustrating moments, but do remember to give yourself the time and space to enjoy working outdoors.
Be confident, says Geoff of Driftwood by Sea, who created his amazing seaside garden from scratch as a total beginner. His message is simple: “Go for it and you will succeed.”
Hayley of Hayley’s Lottie Haven grows a wonderful selection of healthy fruit and veg at her allotment, and her advice is also simple: “Take a step back to enjoy the fruits of your labour.” She says:
“Sometimes we get so wrapped up in weeding, watering and harvesting, we forget to look at what we’ve achieved.
Above all, look on your new-found hobby as a way to practise being patient. As Adam of Carrot Tops Allotment says: “The world is moving at a faster and faster pace these days, so make the most of something moving slowly for a change.”
2. Embrace the learning curve
If you’re just starting out, the chances are that you’ll experience a few hiccups on the road to growing success. Our experts’ advice is simple – embrace your failures and learn from them. You’re on a learning curve – learn to love learning.
“Nobody gets it right first time. Plants can be moved, new varieties of fruit and vegetables can be sown and garden designs can be developed,” says Kate of Diary of a Country Girl:
“When something works it’s amazingly satisfying and surely that’s why we all garden!
That’s a sentiment with which Richard, creator and curator of a wonderful resource for gardeners, the Veg Grower Podcast, agrees. He says:
“Whether it’s a seed that didn’t germinate or a plant that didn’t flourish it’s not the end of the world. Look into what went wrong and rectify that for next time.”
3. Start off small
There’s nothing more demoralising than starting off your gardening career with high ambitions only to find you don’t have the time, ability, and knowhow to bring them to fruition. But by starting off small, our experts say, you’ll develop your skills and capabilities so that one day, you’ll turn round and realise that you have, after all, created your dream garden.
“Don’t be afraid to be utterly realistic about your goals,” says Lucy at the Smallest Smallholding:
“Focus on one thing at a time and try to enjoy the rambling and vigour of nature. Accept that imperfection is part of living in the natural world!
That’s advice that Kris, The Allotment Cook would recognise. When he first took over his allotment, trying to do too much meant he achieved little and he admits: “ I was aching in places I didn’t even know existed.” He says:
“I learnt to take things a bit slower, plan and be patient….I focused on strawberries, chillies, potatoes and onions. The plan worked and I was eating them all the way through the winter.
If you’re taking on a large plot, don’t feel obliged to cultivate it all at once says Sarah at Digging the Earth:
“Simply strim it back, cover and tackle a bit at a time. Just uncover when you’re ready for it., and plant up as you go.”
4. Be adventurous
Garden with a spirit of adventure and you’ll never look back, our panel of experts say. Always keen to take a chance on something new, they know they won’t always succeed, but embracing challenge means your gardening journey is always exciting and fun.
“I try to grow as many plants from seeds and cuttings,” says Sally at Sally’s Garden Blog. “I find it fascinating, it saves me a fortune, and there are so many incredible seeds available.”
Dawn of Being Self Sufficient in Wales agrees: “Be adventurous if you want to have a go at growing something different go for it, you don’t have to grow what everyone else grows.” She says:
“It’s your garden and if you provide the right growing conditions then the growing world is your oyster.
And don’t just experiment with your selection of plants, try new things with your growing space too, as Dawn of Being Self Sufficient in Wales suggests:
“Experiment: growing vertically will give you more growing space.
5. Get some training
With so much gardening knowledge available at the click of a mouse, it can be difficult to know which advice to put your faith in. That’s why it’s a good idea to get yourself some training from a reputable source, or simply invest in one good gardening book to get you started.
Sally at Sally’s Garden Blog puts it succinctly. She says:
“I bought a really basic gardening book which had a weekly gardening project, I loved it, it really made me want to get gardening.
25 years later, via a postgrad degree in landscape architecture, and a lecturership in horticulture, Sally now works as a professional gardener.
Alice Vincent who gardens 60ft up, takes things a step further. Her book ‘How to Grow Stuff: Easy, no-stress gardening for beginners’, contains just the sort of advice fledgeling gardeners need to get them started. She says:
“If you kill something, try and learn why.
Pete at Weeds up to me Knees says it’s a good idea to keep your eye on the courses on offer through your local authority, something he feels he’s benefitted from greatly: “the secret is, whatever gardening knowledge you have you can always expand on it as there’s so much to learn!”
We hope you’re inspired to get out into the garden and start digging. If you have any tips for gardening beginners that you think we’ve missed, just drop us a line via our Facebook page, and we’ll get back to you. In the meantime, we’ll leave you with this little gem from Geoff at the Driftwood by the Sea:
“Always do what you feel is right for you and your plot. Don’t be swayed by what the experts say!
I have just discovered new strawberry plants on last years runners, should I cover them in fleece while the weather is still chilly?
You can push them into the soil and they will root after a while. Once rooted you can cut them free of their parent plants and you will have a new set of strawberry plants! They are perfectly hardy so no need to give them any special treatment.
All the best