Posted on Leave a comment

Where My Love of Gardening Began

Growing vegetables

I love gardening.  I really love gardening.  I like nothing better than planting up a tiny seed and the magic of seeing it grow into a beautiful plant or vegetable.  I find being out in the garden or in the fresh air, takes you into a totally different place.  You forget about all of the things that are going on in your daily life.  You are so immersed in what you are doing, that all of your cares and worries slip away.

Gardening is good for the body, health and your wellbeing.  It is a good exercise.  It means that you are outside in nature and all of the health benefits of that.  It is something that you can quite happily do alone, or you can share your interest with friends and family.   It is also a good way of making new friends.  People who garden have always historically shared seeds, plants, and the products that they have grown.

My Inspiration

My love of gardening began when I was a child.  My parents bought a plot of land when I was a toddler and built an architect-designed house and then it was their joy to design the garden and to plant it all up.  They both loved gardening and would spend many hours out there tending to it and growing stuff.  My grandparents also loved gardening.  My grandmother was a wonderful cook and seeing her make delicious meals out of the produce from the garden was always a delight.  My grandfather was a Miner and like many Miners, their working life was so hard, that having an escape like gardening was somewhere that they could get away from the challenging, difficult life that they lived every day.  My grandmother had infinite patience. Whether it was gardening or cooking, she always took the time to involve us and to teach us how to do things. 

You can never have too many flowers…

My kind of garden is a Cottage Garden full of flowers and vegetables with fruit trees.  I grow as many plants to attract bees and butterflies as possible and don’t use chemicals or sprays.  I like curves and paths that lead you to something unexpected, rather than having straight lines and uniform planting.  I grow mostly perennials or hardy annuals.  I grow very few summer bedding plants, as for me, they are a very expensive way of having a pretty garden and take an awful lot of maintenance.  Oh and ponds, I always have to have at least one pond and currently have three.

How long does it take to create a garden?

I have moved many times and have always inherited a garden that has either been neglected, or that has become overgrown and unloved.  I love the challenge of bringing houses and gardens back to life full of birds, bees and butterflies.  I have also proved the old wives’ tale that it takes 10 years for a garden to establish.  I have lived in my present home for 10 months and it is a riot of colour and my vegetable plots are keeping me fed and providing enough for me to fill my freezers and to preserve for many months to come.

I hope that you have enjoyed hearing a little bit of why I became involved in gardening and why I am so passionate about it.  Please follow my blogs to find out more about me and to learn hints and tips about how you can become a gardener and maybe even feed yourself and your family.

Posted on Leave a comment

Gardening – Starting Gardening

Many people have started gardening and growing vegetables this year due to the Coronavirus Pandemic and Lockdown.  It has helped for many reasons, feeding yourself and your family, getting out in the fresh air and the mental health and wellbeing benefits that are associated with gardening.  It is also a great community where you can share hints and tips with people of all ages and types.

You don’t have to have a big garden to grow plants or vegetables you can grow things in a container on your balcony or windowsill.

The thing to remember while gardening is to start small.  A small plant bed, about 25 or 30 feet square is perfect, is just enough room for about 30 plants.  This will give you a chance to try out your green thumb and if you find that you enjoy your garden you can always expand and increase your plantings.

The next thing you will want to do is choose a site.  To reap the benefits of growing things, ideally gardening should be done in an area that gets at least six hours of sunlight a day.  Try and stay away from large trees that will take your plants water and nutrients and at least three feet from any hedges or buildings.

In hot climates it is a good idea to choose a place that will have shade from a part of the intense afternoon sun.  It is possible to have a healthy garden with less hours of sunlight, but the type of plants must be adaptable. 

While soil can always be improved, a site with good soil is a plus.  Avoid areas that have rocky soil, steep slopes, or areas where water stands.  Or if you have these conditions, you should prepare the soil and chose plants that will thrive in them, rather than being disappointed when your plants don’t grow.

Now comes the fun part: start digging.  Gardening is not a clean hobby; you’re going to have to get some dirt under your nails.  First remove the rocks, debris, and any grass and weeds then dig the spot up about one foot deep.  Level up the dirt and add compost or minerals if needed.  If your soil is too acidic, add lime; if it is too sandy, add manure or compost.  Plants will thrive in neutral to acidic soil with a little added fertilizer.

One of the most helpful things to add to a garden is mulch or compost.  Just a few inches of organic mulch will improve fertility and help the soil hold moisture.  Wood chips, grass clippings, leaves, manure and pine needles are all things that can be used as mulch. 

If you buy seeds then plant them according to the directions.  If you are planting seeds the package will usually tell you exactly when you can plant them to achieve maximum growth.   You don’t have to have a greenhouse to be able to grow things from seeds. 

If picking plants, choose ones with green, healthy looking leaves and stems and healthy roots.  When planting, put the smaller plants towards the front of the bed and larger ones in the back.  The key to a successful beginning in gardening is planting at the right time of year.  Make sure that you wait until the frosts are over before planting anything. 

Once you have started and have gotten into gardening, making sure your plants receive enough water is essential to their growth.  Hand watering works well if you only have a few plants.  Other options include sprinklers or sprinkler hoses.  Watering is more effective during the cooler parts of the day.  The type of plant will depend on how much water is needed, but most require about an inch per week.  During the hottest periods plants will be need watering about three times per week or some may need watering every day.

There are loads of books, internet groups and forums where you can learn about gardening, so don’t be afraid to have a go and you may just get addicted like I am.

Happy gardening.