New Kids On The Plot

One of the posters over at the Profane Existence forum was looking for some beginners tips as they set out to grow for the first time in a new plot this year. I came up with a few suggestions and, as an avid recycler, I’ll put ’em up here too.

Check out your garden’s micro-climate. What’s the garden’s aspect? Are there damp / dry / shady spots?  What plant hardiness zone are you in? Which way are the prevailing winds and how strong can they be?

What sort of soil have you got? Clay-like, sandy, loamy (the best sort)? It may be worth doing a pH and soil test using a kit similar to this.

Look at what your neighbours are growing, talk to them, and see if there are any community gardening groups operating. They’re a good source of plants / seeds (often free) and knowledge.

Start a compost pile. This will become black gold!

Allow some space for wildlife. Either grow a small ‘wild’ area, or incorporate wildlife-friendly plants. And put out bird food in safe places for the birds. The natural food chain created will help with any bug problems later in the year.

Put in a small pond with suitable plants. In no time at all, things will find their way to it. Introduce frogs suitable for your area if they don’t find their own way (a blob of spawn is a great way to do this) – frogs are great at eating slugs and other annoying things.

Start organic, then stay that way. If you’ve got an established major weed problem, a one-off hit with glyphosate may be worth considering if you’re comfortable with that sort of thing. If not, look at mulching (although be prepared to have the land out of action for quite some time for this to be really effective) and, in some cases, be prepared for digging out every piece of root you can find.

Look at no-dig gardening techniques for an easier life and a healthier garden. Let the worms, bugs and microbes do all the hard work.

Use the web to look for local / regional gardening-related websites.

Take it at your own pace, learn from what doesn’t work and go with what does and, most importantly, just enjoy it. Relaxing in the garden is an essential part of the whole thing.

That should do for starters. Now get out there and get dirty!

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