I have been gardening for around 10 years now and each year I still learn something new and develop new practices in the garden. Part of the excitement and the enjoyment of gardening lies in the fact that you never know everything and that the best gardeners are not afraid to try anything! Some of my top tips are as follows, but in truth, most of what I do relies upon spur of the moment decisions, a ‘have a go’ attitude and judging things by how they look – plants that is, not people! If it looks right, it probably IS right, is a good motto to garden by. I hope these help.
1) Get outside as much as you can – know you garden in all the seasons and know exactly how it reacts. It is a ‘room’ in effect; it just doesn’t have a roof. You wouldn’t abandon your kitchen, living room or spare bedroom – so don’t neglect the garden. Always wrap up warm and try to get out in the winter too. Kit up, get out and get gardening.
2) Buy good tools. This is explained in more detail in the ‘Tools’ articles on the site, but purchasing tools couldn’t be more important. When I choose a new tool, be it a spade, fork, pair of Secateurs or even gloves – it doesn’t matter what are most expensive, nor whose are shiniest or even who they are made by, I go for comfort time and again. If I can hold it well, I can use it well. A poor gardener blames the tools. A good gardener avoids those which give them blisters or are heavy!
3) Buy cheap plants and seeds by shopping around… quality doesn’t always come with high prices. If I’m after seeds, I shop for them at the end of the summer, when they are often on sale. If I am planning on purchasing plug plants I always order early to avoid disappointment and also to pick up on the special deals that many companies offer. If it’s shrubs that I’m looking to buy, then I seldom visit the garden centre. I would initially call in at a friend who has a good specimen during the summer and try to persuade them to relinquish some cuttings, and propagate them myself! If not, then visit your local market or car boot sale, as many good quality growers will be offering good plants at low prices. Here, choose plants without flowers, and with good leaves and root growth, gently knock the plant out of the pot and examine it if you are in doubt. If the grower objects, then it’s probably a bad plant.
4) Research your purchases and problems. Some of my most productive escapades have involved little or no monetary investment, but instead relied upon researching a little from the internet, on sites such as Organic Vegetable Gardening and then having a go in the fresh air. Big problems that might set you back hundreds of pounds in labour and costs, are far cheaper when conducted at a weekend with a group of friends. Keep some wine available and you have a pre-formed gardening team!
5) Enjoy it… I cannot stress this enough. If you are working in the frosty damp winters you’ll need a cuppa and a good sense of well being. It’s not a chore; it’s getting stuck in, getting fit, getting tanned and serving a multitude of purposes. Don’t knock it, have fun with it!