I am not a gardener. I have a garden, I plant things and get really excited when something actually grows. I love the thrill of not really knowing what will happen, testing things out, trying techniques and watching little leaves and shoots come out of the soil.
Making gardening cool again.
Gardening has old lady connotations, and is something your granny does and knows all about. She’ll tut at you when you ask an obvious question (not obvious when you’ve never been taught) like When should I prune my rose bushes? or How often should I water my tomato plants? or Will anything grow in my shaded garden? But gardening can be fun, modern, trendy and, yes, cool. It doesn’t need to be all khaki green kneeler and padded body warmers (you know what I mean, right?)
I have some suggestions to make you want to head to your local garden centre, pick up a bag of compost and a few packets of seeds and try your hand at growing beautiful flowers to cut and make bouquets from, and grow your very own veg. It doesn’t have to be tricky, and can be so satisfying.
Follow some gardening experts.
I follow a few people on Instagram who know what they are doing (or who are a least a few leagues ahead of me) and I find it so inspiring and encouraging. If they can do it, so can I, eh?
Some of my favourite follows are
- Amy of @chicksandveg (fun fact, my mum knitted her a hat with hens on and included one of my gardening heart cards with her gift and Amy shared it on her stories - she has over 30,000 followers!!)
- Lizzie of @therosepressgarden who loves to sow flowers from seed. I was given her seed advent calendar and have loved trying out growing flowers I have never planted before. Some are quite high maintenance, others never even germinated but I have quite a lot of seedlings and I’m so excited to have a beautiful garden full of colour this summer.
I have recently begun reading a magazine called The Simple Things and it has inspired me so much to be outside, to grow things that can be done easily. I’d highly recommend a copy of it with a cuppa under the shade of a nearby tree. Just what the doctor ordered.
Another way you can be inspired is thinking of what you could do with what you grow - you could make chutney, jam, fresh salads, have jars of fresh flowers around your house and both preserves and flowers are wonderful ideas for gifts for friends. One more great gift idea is seeds from the flowers you grow - I collected bluebell, poppy and coriander seeds last year and used them as part of my gardening letterbox gifts I put together earlier this year.
Plant fail-proof seeds/bulbs first.
Here is a list of what I’ve found to be fool proof.
- Raspberry canes. Go on to Amazon and find varieties that are “reliable” and “heavy cropping” You can either get them from Amazon or from a local garden centre once you know what you’re looking for. These are not available all year round. As soon as you get them, plant them. They don’t need a huge amount, but prune them each autumn/winter. Right back. New growth will sprout each year.
- Cut and come again lettuce leaves. These are so reliable as well. Sow, then plant out when they’re seedlings. I got a mix of seeds so have a variety of different leaves.
- Coriander and Rosemary. I literally got these in pots from Tesco and planted them in to a windowsill planter. The Rosemary is hardy and has kept going through the winter. The coriander went to flower, then seeded and the seeds that I left in the soil have begun germinating and producing more coriander now. You can also do this with basil but it is quite a fussy plant I have found.
- Potato. I literally plant a potato in some soil and then add more soil every couple of weeks until the bucket/pot is full.
- Bulbs like crocuses, daffodils, snowdrops etc. But also, if you find some wild garlic somewhere, you can pull a few plants up with the roots and plant in your garden. I’ve found it to take quite well.
Planting a garden is believing in the future.
After the year we’ve had, believing anything for the future can feel like an act of defiance and a huge leap of faith. I’ve found gardening to be something to focus my energy on, and it has helped time feel less static and the days a little bit less groundhog-esque. I mean, yesterday can’t feel entirely like today when you first notice shoots poking from the soil, and spending time on the grass next to bluebells is just joyous.
It has been proven that exercise and fresh air are both great for the body and for the mind. You get both when you get digging a border or fill a raised, and as well as a sense of achievement, you also have something to show for it a few weeks/months later, and if you’re planting veg, that will also be getting vitamins in to you - the freshest possible vitamins at that!
So I cannot recommend gardening enough, even if you do it just to improve your mental well-being!
Sowing seeds is an act of faith.
I may well blog about this in the future, but there is a verse in the Bible that says I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God gave the growth. (1 Corinthians 3:6) - now I know this is speaking of spiritual growth, but it is entirely true when it comes to planting physical seed in literal soil as well. God gives the growth. Watching things grow, and having no control over whether they do or not (other than providing the right conditions) is a physical reminder of a spiritual truth.
What I’m growing this year.
I have a few things going on this year.
Veg: beetroot, potatoes, peas, lettuce, tomatoes, pumpkins, courgettes, round courgettes, and sweet corn.
Fruit: gooseberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants, rhubarb and plums.
Flowers: from memory, sweet peas, cosmos, nasturtiums, bluebells, daffodils, crocuses, cornflowers, sweet Williams, larkspur, stocks, marigolds, snowdrops, nemophila, gypsophila...
What about you?
I’d love to hear what you have begun growing and how it’s going! Comment below to continue this conversation.