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The Beginner Gardeners Guide

April 07, 2020

While those of us who are gardening-challenged are forgetting to water pot plants and neglecting herbs until they seed, our inner green thumb is hiding – deep, deep inside – just waiting to bloom. Thankfully, all it takes is a little commitment and knowledge to succeed in the garden. Which is good news for wannabe gardeners because spending time with plants promotes relaxation, satisfaction, and a sense of calm. Get started with these 6 tips designed for complete beginners.

summertime in a german garden

Start small

There’s no need for newcomers to launch headfirst into gardening. Take it one step at a time and build knowledge and experience as you go. A good first step is to choose easy care plants. If you tend to forget to water outdoor pots, start with indoor plants because it’s easier to remember a plant that you see every day. Balcony planters are relatively low maintenance. They suit easy growers like baby spinach, loose leaf lettuce, basil, and parsley. These fast-growing edibles also help maintain your enthusiasm for gardening as they can be harvested and enjoyed in a matter of weeks.

Cultivate a healthy soil

If your soil is low in quality add some fertiliser or organic compost. Plants grow best in soil rich with organic matter that drains well. Soil that is high in clay or other poor drainers will need to be broken up with gypsum or other drainage-supporting materials to avoid root rot. Once you have healthy soil, keep it maintained by adding compost, aged manure, or natural mulch. Compost is a critical component for healthy soil as well as healthy plants. It can be purchased from hardware stores or made at home.

Have basic tools

A few simple tools can make gardening easy and fun. Get started with a comfortable pair of gardening gloves. Take the time to try a few pairs in store before purchasing to find a good fit. If you have a small outdoor area purchase a hand trowel, secateurs, and water can. For in-ground garden beds a wheelbarrow, rake, and small shovel are handy additions. When choosing a tool, hold a few different brands in your hands to make sure they are comfortable. Both their weights and shapes will vary. A good quality bag of organic fertiliser or potting mix is also useful to have on hand.

Select easy care plants

Some plants need full sunshine while others thrive in bright light but burn in direct sun. Some like regular watering while others prefer an occasional light spritz. The trick is to purchase a plant that suits your lifestyle. If you regularly forget to water your plants, choose varieties that enjoy dry soil like succulents and cacti. Low maintenance plants like Devil’s Ivy are ideal for adding a splash of green to your interior décor without demanding much care. Your local climate also needs to be considered. Tropical plants will flourish in warm regions but struggle in colder climates.

Water carefully

Over watering…under watering…no watering. How much and how often to water plants is a common roadblock for new gardeners. Many outdoor plants like to be kept moist but require well-draining soil to avoid root rot. On the contrary, many indoor plants like to dry out between waters. The trick for these is to insert your finger into the soil to the base of the plant. If it’s dry, the plant needs water. If it’s damp, then you probably have another day or two before watering. If you don’t have the time or energy to manage a range of plants with different requirements, curate a plant collection with similar preferences. That way your entire garden can share the same watering schedule.

Location, location, location

Where you position your plants is critical. Read up on each plant’s sunlight, shade, and temperature preferences before choosing their location. For indoor plants, think of each room in your house as a different microclimate. South-facing rooms will be cooler and lack direct sun, while north-facing rooms can be warm and offer bright sunlight. Choose plants that will thrive in each microclimate. Once you have positioned indoor plants, try to keep them in that location as they don’t like to be moved. Balcony plants also need to be carefully positioned. Terracotta pots can easily overheat in direct sun and dry out their soil. In this case, you might choose to water more regularly or relocate them for the season.

Once you have chosen an aspect that suits your plant’s preferences (or chosen a plant that suits your aspect) and cultivated healthy soil for it to grow in, all that is left is watering. Check your plant’s tag or search online to learn how often it likes to be watered, then add a regular reminder to your calendar so you will never forget. You will be adding to your collection in no time!