• Chris Jackson

Beautiful Garden: It's Not as Difficult as You Think


Gardener Baildon

What?


What kind of garden ideally do you want?  Whatever you decide starting small will be easier, that way if things don’t work out it will be easier to rectify. The bigger the project the grander the failure if things don’t quite go as planned.

Were you thinking a herb, vegetable or a flower garden? Maybe you would like to choose all three? It is possible to have a mixture of all three and by starting small you can designate or build sections for each type of growing.

If you would prefer a garden with flowers you might want to try different things every year so go with annuals. For something more permanent choose perennials.


Where?


Both vegetables and flowers will need your sunniest spot. So study where the sun shines and which part gets the sun the longest.

There is a good selection of flowers of vegetables that will tolerate some shade so research the varieties if you are stuck with a shady plot.

When deciding on your new growing beds, put them where you can see them, and they can’t be ignored you will be more likely to keep to them. You can see when they might need some extra water or pick up on pests and diseases quickly so you can resolve the situation.

Near your garden tap if you have one is a good start. If you don’t have an outdoor tap, it would be a practical investment and will save you hours. You don’t want to be dragging a heavy hose right across everything and it can make such a mess.


Clearing the Ground


If you are taking up a part of your lawn to create a new bed it can be a heavy job. If you are in no rush you could cover it layers of newspaper (5 sheets thick should do). 

You then need to add 3 inches (7/8 centimetres) of compost over the area. Use a quality compost as this will have a good combination of top soil and potting mix. 

This whole process will take about four months for the newspaper to degrade and decompose. You can then dig it over and the grass will be gone. 

Digging up the lawn will be a guarantee that you will have less weeds. So, it depends on whether you are physically able or have the time to dig the lawn up. If you have a garden with poor access the newspaper trick is still a good option.


Improve your Soil


All areas of your garden soil will need a boost of nutrients at some point.

Adding some organic matter will help enormously. A good 3 inches of rotted leaves, manure or shop bought organic matter in bags will make a significant difference. 

If you leave the matter for a few months, it will work its way into your soil. If you can dig, do so. Digging will loosen up the soil and make it lighter so your new plants can form a good root structure through it. Digging over the depth of about 8 – 12 inches (20-30 centimetres) or so should be deep enough.

If you have opted for a flower bed or vegetable plot, you will only need to turn your soil once a year. Obviously do this in spring before you start planting and the bed is empty.

The texture of your soil is a bit tricky but an easy way to tell if you have the right mix is get a handful and make a loose ball shape, it should damp enough form the shape but when you drop it, dry enough to fall apart.

If you would like to go that one step further to ensure the best results, get a soil testing kit too and check that the ground is suitable for the plants you are wanting to grow.


Picking the Pretties and Yummies


I know from experience when you are waiting for Spring only the amazing free seed and plant catalogues keep you sane waiting for the frosts to pass. Try and marry the varieties with your soil type and growing conditions and you will surprise yourself with a great crop.


Getting things in the Ground


Plan carefully and check which varieties you can plant straight from seed. Some will be able to tolerate the cold, others will definitely not. So, you can either buy plug plants (small plants already established from seed) or buy your own seed and start them off on your window sill or greenhouse. You will have to wait until the last frost has passed. 

‘Ne'er cast a clout till May be out’ is some good old advice.


Watering


Seedling and plug plants should never dry out, as they get bigger and better established you can reduce watering as much. How often you need to water will depend on the condition of your soil and the weather and position you have the plants. 

It’s a trial and error process if you are new to gardening. Never over water as they will rot from the roots. 

Over-watering causes as much damage as letting them dry out. If the weather is good, water first thing in the morning this prevents evaporation. 

If you must water in full sun because they are looking a bit sad and wilting, be sure not to get water on any leaves etc. As where ever the water goes the sun will scorch and leave nasty brown marks.


Mulching


Mulching will help keep the weeds out and the water in. There are lots of variants of mulches available. Stick to something that will breakdown in a few months for vegetables and your annual flowers. Look at using something more permanent and longer lasting for perennials like a nice bark. We recommend muckers mulch which can be purchased here- https://tommytopsoil.com/products/mulches/muckers-mulch


Upkeep


Well you have done all the groundwork and now for a bit of upkeep. Water when your garden needs it, more on hotter days. Pull the weeds up and stop them getting big. (This is why veggies are planted in careful rows, so you can differentiate between the young plants and the weeds).

About way through the growing season dig in some dry fertilizer its very reasonably priced. Other than that you can water in a liquid one every month.





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