To garden… Geoff Hamilton wrote, “There is nothing like a garden for making you feel small. There you are, right in the middle of the greatest miracle of all – the world of growing things”.
Some of you might think that you cannot grow nearly all that you would like to grow. Yes, some gardening things are more challenging than others, I agree. You did not get on your first bicycle and ride the Tour de France did you? That is the miracle of gardening. Between the soil and the dirty fingernails, it teaches us many lessons. We learn with the seasons and every garden is an individual masterpiece created over time. It grows, as we do.
The good news is that plants are not as fussy as we make them out to be. They generally need a few basic things: good soil, a good watering, sunshine and a good dose of fertiliser every now and again. And once you understand and accept that all plants have an expiry date, life gets better. We all want that precious perennial from our childhood garden to last forever, but you know what? Perennials only have a lifespan of approximately five years. Annuals only last a season!
Those are the FUN-damentals of gardening. With each season, you can change your colour scheme and add texture. It’s pretty much like having an interior designer at your fingertips, and that designer is you. You create your garden.
Good soil helps to create strong, growing plants. You might wonder what good soil is… analysing it makes for better understanding. Good soil can absorb water, allow air to penetrate and is packed with organic matter, providing nutrients to roots. The good news is that it’s not that difficult to achieve. It might just take a little time and some sweat. Adding compost (organic matter that has broken down over time) allows conditioning of the soil. Another way to add to this process is mulching. This can be done by adding thick layers of leaves around your plants – or even bark chips will do the trick. Over time these chips will break down and add value to your soil. Mulching also suppresses weed growth. Now that is a bargain!
The final basic element to gardening is fertilisers, and when to fertilise. This is a question I am asked often. The best answer is whenever you plant, fertilise. Organic fertilisers complete the cycle of good gardening practices. You never have to fear that you might over fertilise. Organic fertilisers’ nutrients are released slowly and over a longer period of time. There is no danger of plants burning due to chemical compounds and watering right away is optional. All plants need that added boost, so when you see your shrubs start to bud, give them food. Don’t forget your little annuals adding that pop of colour – a liquid fertiliser will do them the world of good.
There are many types of fertilisers on the market, don’t be afraid to ask your garden centre, should you be unsure. We are fortunate that many manufacturers today give us a clear indication of which plant food to use for the many areas of our gardens, whether for our fruit trees, veggie gardens or that special colour spot you just added. So put on your gardening clogs, grab your garden spade and create your own piece of paradise with all the things that grow.