How to be a gardener

Black Female Gardner

“Let’s face it, gardening can be pretty daunting. All those Latin names, the bugs and blights that can attack your plants just when they are looking their prettiest.

How does anyone manage to grow anything?

Part One of ‘How to be a gardener’ will explain all that. It’s not magic, it’s common sense.

I can’t promise you a copper-bottomed guarantee, but I can help you to learn how to avoid the pitfalls and make the most of what you’ve got.

This online resource, prepared in collaboration with the Royal Horticultural Society, will bring life to your learning. There will be eight modules in all.

You can work through them, or simply dip in, it’s up to you. The modules cover everything you need to know to give you a great start in gardening.

At the end of each module you can test your knowledge with a quiz. And there’s even a certificate to be gained /(endorsed by the RHS).

I love gardening because it is the stuff of life, and it still gives me a thrill to sow seeds and grow plants. Enjoyment is what this course is all about.”
Alan Titchmarsh

The thing to remember when gardening is to start small. A small plant bed, about 25 or 30 feet square is perfect, is just enough room for about 30 plants. This will give you a chance to try out your green thumb and if you find that you enjoy your garden you can always expand and increase your plantings.

The next thing you will want to do is choose a site. Gardening should be done in an area that gets at least six hours of sunlight. Try and stay away from large trees that will take your plants water and nutrients, and at least three feet from any fences or buildings.

In hot climates it is a good idea to choose a place that will have shade from a part of the intense afternoon sun.

It is possible to have a healthy garden with even ten to twelve hours of sunlight, but the type of plants must be adaptable.

While soil can always be improved, a site with good soil is a plus. Avoid areas that have rocky soil, steep slopes, or areas where water stands.

Now comes the fun part: start digging. Gardening is not a clean hobby; you’re going to have to get some dirt under your nails. First remove the rocks, debris, and any grass and weeds then dig the spot up about one foot deep.

Level up the dirt and add compost or minerals if the needed. If your soil is too acidic, add lime; if it is too sandy, add peat moss. Plants will thrive in neutral to acidic soil with a little added fertilizer.

If you buy seeds then plant them according to the directions.

If picking plants, choose ones with green, healthy looking leaves and stems and healthy roots. Put the smaller plants towards the front of the bed and larger ones in the back.

The key to a successful beginning in gardening is planting at the right time. Make sure and wait until the frosts are over before planting. If you are planting seeds the package will usually tell you exactly when you can plant them to achieve maximum growth.

Once you have started and got into gardening, making sure your plants receive enough water is essential to their growth.

Hand watering works well if you only have a few plants. Other options include sprinklers or sprinkler hoses.

Watering is more effective during the cooler parts of the day.

The type of plant will depend on how much water is needed, but most require about an inch per week. During the hottest periods plants will be need watering about three times per week.

One of the most helpful things to add to a garden is mulch or compost. Just a few inches of organic mulch will improve fertility and help the soil hold moisture. Wood chips, grass clippings, leaves, manure, and pine needles are all things that can be used as mulch.

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