The first of a series of blogs from our guest blogger Jacob who, this summer, is trying his hand at gardening for the first time. He shares his experience so you can learn from his mistakes.
I’m a tenant in a lovely little terraced house. It’s got a funny, pokey little back-yard-come-greenhouse: a confused paved area with brick walls and the roof of a conservatory plonked on top.
I’ve lived in this house for about five years now, but I’ve never used the area for gardening. As a place to park my bikes? Yes. As somewhere to sling the recycling? Of course. An area to shove the smokers during a house party? You bet. But as somewhere to grow actual plants? Well that always seemed a lot of hassle.
I have tried to grow stuff before, but with little success. I once bought a cactus for my desk at work, but it fell over and never got up. When I lived in a student flat, I thought I’d grow a little herb garden on the balcony. I forgot about it until, a few weeks later, a pigeon decided to nest in the plant pot and flew in my face when I went out to hang my washing.
Anyway, this summer I've decided to give it another go. I want to tell you all about the experience so you can learn from my mistakes. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
Gardening is stupidly easy
It’s incredibly obvious isn’t it? You stick a seed in some soil, sprinkle some water over it and a plant grows. I learned this at school. And yet watching it happen in my own garden is oddly awe-inspiring. I think I’m developing a God complex. I planted some sunflower seeds a couple of months ago and then completely neglected them. Imagine my surprise when bold little shoots appeared. Now of an evening I get home and stare at them murmuring, ‘You owe me your lives.’
Gardens are tasty
Sure, tulips and hyacinths are cute, but they’re a bit useless aren’t they? But food – now food is something that peaks my interest. I eat food all the time. And when I’m not eating food, I’m almost certainly thinking about it. I’m trying to grow loads of food in my garden: spinach, tomatoes, rocket and a whole host of herbs. It’s really satisfying to eat something that you reared from childhood.
Those spray bottles make your finger ache
I’m trying to grow from seeds in trays. I spent about 30 seconds googling ‘how to grow seeds’ and the advice was to regularly spray the trays gently with water. Let me tell you – it’s boring doing all that spraying, and it doesn’t half make your finger ache. None of my seeds were sprouting either. I decided to give it a go with the watering can instead. It was much less effort and in a couple of days I had little green shoots! People say you need patience to be a gardener. They’re wrong.
Prune like an ancient Greek hero
When I was a kid, I loved watching the 1963 film 'Jason and the Argonauts' on VHS. Remember how Jason chopped off the Hydra’s head and two heads grew back in its place? That’s what pruning is like! Clip off the top of an oregano stem, and two more grow in its place. If I’m honest, my oregano bush is taking over, but it’s fun pretending I’m an ancient Greek hero. I can’t hold back.
Plant feed is like steroids for your garden
Sprinkle a bit of plant feed on your soil one evening and the next day your plants will have doubled in size. I wouldn’t be surprised if my peace lily started talking to me this weekend.
So that’s what I’ve learned from my first couple of green-fingered months. Look out for more updates from me in the coming months.
Maybe this has inspired you, or you have some tips of your own you’d like to share? If so, please feel free to add your comments.