are asking me for advice – people who don’t know where to start or even what they want to achieve. It’s as daunting as if I wanted to start embroidery or oil painting.
So I’m wondering what’s the minimum gardening advice a reluctant gardener needs to just grow something in their bit of soil? Even though people want guidance, I think too many do’s and dont’s will put people off.
A very reluctant non-gardening friend asked me about weeding and preparing a tiny border in her suburban garden. I kept advice to a minimum and after an hour of hard work she had changed a long neglected little border from this
Now it’s a step nearer being ready for planting. But what? How does a non-gardener choose what to plant where? That’s too big a question for now but I’ll offer just two things to focus on.
Soil is the most important thing
First, there’s no substitute for on hands and knees getting to know your soil, turning it over with a hand fork, touching it, and looking for worms and creepy crawlies. Soil needs to be alive, full of activity, not too lumpy and not too dusty. Look online or in books to see why enriching the soil is important and how to do it.
You can buy big fat juicy worms online! They come in a sealed bag. Pop them on the border and they’ll burrow down. Fantastic.
Watch where the sun hits.
You can improve your soil but you can’t change the route the sun takes around your garden. So notice where the sun rises and sets; the hotspots and the places always in shade. The rest will be in-between. You’ll forget what you’ve noticed so have a garden diary and make a note. Go mad and have different coloured pens.
I feel for non-gardeners wanting to do something with the space outside their back door. It’s very daunting and one could easily waste time and money. My friend very sensibly started small.
My two pieces of gardening advice mean you can improve your soil and then sit in the sunny spot to read a few magazines or look at pictures of plants you might like. We all begin by working out what we like and what we don’t. That’s the start.