With us all spending more time at home, I count myself extremely lucky to have some outdoor space to spend the warmer days in. I am well aware that there are people who have had to spend lockdown in isolation and indoors. I have tried my best to make the most of the space I have over the last few weeks been enjoying the cathartic processes of rearing some plants of my own. I’ve been discovering my garden & learning as much as I can. Some of the most helpful resources I have found are listed at the end of this post.
I’ve always been interested in gardening. I think it’s in my genes. Both my grandfathers were keen gardeners, growing flowers & vegetables. I have childhood memories of giant flowers taller than me & hot greenhouses smelling of damp soil & garden twine. My Dad is a keen grower, regularly raising annual crops of runner beans that are just my favourite vegetable to eat. He is my go to gardening resource. I swear the man could write his own gardening book if he could just remember the names of the plants he grows.
I have largely neglected my plans for the outdoor space I have. It’s the age-old excuse isn’t it. Spending time making plans of things to do around the house, then not making the time to actually do them. Being at home most of the time while the weather has been so nice has driven me to spend more time in my garden. Ironically, I am writing this on a fairly wet & stormy June afternoon. I’ve still managed, however, to get outside to check on my plants. I’ve tied the growing tendrills of a cucumber plant to stakes & fretted over my poor beetroot sprouts that have taken a battering in the heavy rain showers.
My outdoor space
My little rented end-terrace house is the first place I have lived that has an actual garden. With a back door & outside tap & everything. Despite the lack of fence on two of the three sides, it’s rather lovely. A manageable courtyard garden on two levels, the lower of which is paved & surrounded by raised beds. The upper portion has gravel over it & space for a washing line. There’s a wonderful lavender bush on one side that grows with gusto every single year. On the other, an unruly tangle of various climbing plants make their way over the fence from next door in search of sun.
It is this tangle that I have largely neglected. This year, it threatened swamp a lot of the garden, taking the fence with it. Over the last few weeks I have been hacking at it with my Dad’s hedge trimmer. I’ve filled the garden waste bin a number of times, slowly neating it up. There’s still a bit go but I can now see the flower bed underneath it & my garden looks much bigger.
I have planted a few crops: cucumbers, courgettes and chilli peppers. These were purchased from a local garden centre & they’re sitting in pots on my patio. I have sown a few seeds of lettuce, peas and beetroot. They are all sprouting nicely, despite the afore mentioned heavy rain. I’m hoping for a decent crop as long as I can hold back the slugs & snails.
I am hoping that this will be my first steps into discovering a love of gardening. Already I find myself with a sense of acheivement when I see the seedlings growing. I have a few more projects in mind to do over the summer & I’m excited to get going. The first one being the fence. I haven’t forgotten the sustainable aspect of this either: composting, saving water & eliminating plastic in my daily life extends to the garden too.
Garden Resources I recommend
There are so many wonderful resources available to beginners & seasoned gardeners alike. Here are some books, YouTube accounts & blogs that have helped me over the past few week in discoverng my garden (other than my Dad, of course!).
Blogs & Vlogs
- Vertical Veg – A blog & social community supporting growing in containers & small spaces. You can find a wealth of information here. There are factsheets on getting started, what to grow & monthly “what to do’s”. Mark, the “Vertical Veg Man” managed to grow £900 of veg on his balcony in a year so knows his stuff!
- RHS Gardening Advice – The Royal Horticutural Society website offers so much information. Whether it’s grow your own or composting you’re after, you will find it here. I also like their YouTube channel.
- The Middle-Sized Gardener has a great YouTube channel & blog on…..Middle-Sized Gardens. To be honest, Alexandra’s tips are helpful, whatever size garden you have.
- Gardener’s World – A staple sunday afternoon show when I was a child, Gardener’s World has a website and magazine. Like the RHS, this is a great free resource for all gardeners.
- RHS Grow You Own: Crops in Pots by Kay Maguire. This one inspired me to try a few projects. It has of them, arranged step-by-step. It also looks at how to grow loads of fruits, veggies & herbs in pots!
- First-Time Gardener by Frances Tophill. A great introduction to designing and creating a garden from scratch. There are some fab tips in here if you’re struggling to decide what to grow.
- The Gardener’s Year by Alan Titchmarsh. An oldie but a goodie. I am very much into working with the seasons & this books sets out perfectly what to do when.