Gardening for beginners: Where should you start?Feature of the week
The thought of gardening can be daunting at the best of times, but once you have mastered the basics you will be surprised how much pleasure can be achieved from growing your own vegetables or flowers.
Where should I begin?
The Royal Horticultural Society website will give you some ideas on where you should start and also what you will need when you venture into the world of gardening. Using disposable nitrile gloves to protect your hands will make life easier, especially if you aren’t too keen on snails and other bugs or germs that are found in the garden. It’s also important that you purchase the correct tools and clothing for the jobs you intend to carry out. Your local garden centre or DIY shop will help you choose the correct implements and containers.
Planning and design
It’s a good idea to decide what type of garden you want to create before you begin working, whether it’s flowers, herbs or vegetables, or both. One of the easiest ways to design a garden is to draw out a basic plan of the area you intend to work on. You don’t have to be too precise with measurements but getting a rough idea of the layout will help you decide how much room you’ll have for planting or laying a lawn. As you start to work on your garden you will probably change your mind about the positioning of certain plants or other features, but everything takes time to take shape.
Preparing your garden is going to be the hardest job, but once it’s done you can begin planting. The BBC Gardening website will give you plenty of ideas on what type of soil or compost you’ll need for different types of plants. If your garden has not been landscaped before, the first job will be to loosen the top couple of inches of soil and mix in some compost or old manure. You can also put some of this mixture on the surface if digging is difficult for you.
Once the soil has been prepared, it’s time to decide what you’re going to plant. You may decide to split your garden and have herbs or vegetables one side and flower beds on the other. Whatever you decide to plant, it’s important that you follow the planting instructions on the label, make sure the plants are the correct distance apart and will get the right amount of sunlight during the summer months. Some time in the future you might start growing from seeds, but to begin with there are some easy to grow plants that don’t need too much attention.
Stopping the growth of weeds
One simple method for stopping the growth of weeds is to put a layer of mulch down on top of the soil. There are many types available from garden centres, including bark chippings, pine needles or cocoa hulls. These all add nutrients to the earth as they slowly break down.
Remember to enjoy your garden and don’t let it become hard work – it’s a place to relax and enjoy.
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Photo: Martin Stone