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Gardening 101: A Beginner's Guide

So, you want to begin reaping the fruits of your very own garden. Growing your own flower or vegetable patch and enjoying the fruits of your labour can be one of the most satisfying hobbies out there. Luckily for you, we have compiled a guide that will make getting your fingers green an easy-peasy experience. Growing from scratch may feel like an intimidating task; but with our tips and tricks, you will soon be munching on your own delicious produce!

When you are new to gardening, it’s best to begin with crops that are not fussy, quick to grow, and suffer few pests and diseases. So think simple vegetables like beans, beetroot, onions, radish, chillies and potatoes to ease you into the swing of things.

Beginning your seed growing journey

When beginning to grow your own seeds, there are two main methods to try. First decide whether they need to be indoors or outdoors.

  •  Starting indoors means using a greenhouse, conservatory, or even on an inside windowsill, and then potting and planting outside when the frosty weather has passed. You can do this easily using propagation trays, mini pop-up greenhouses, or a growing tunnel. Vegetables such as tomatoes, sweetcorn, cabbages and marrows will require this step.
  •  Beginning outdoors simply means that you will plant the seeds directly into the soil where they will stay.

The first step to consider is that you need to sow your vegetable crops at the right time of year. Usually the packet instructions of your seeds will let you know whether it’s best to directly plant them outside in the ground, or indoors with heat. You don’t want to harvest them too early either - you want to enjoy them at peak taste and tenderness! 

Most vegetables will need to be planted during the springtime – there are some exceptions like broad beans, which may require to be sown earlier depending on the weather/temperature conditions.

You can really start prepping your garden at any time during the year - read more about what tasks to complete in January here. Usually, the time for harvesting kicks off in-between June - July, however some vegetables will require collecting a little earlier - such as beans, carrots, radishes and potatoes. Veggies like beetroots, brussel sprouts, cabbages, leeks and parsnips will need to be harvested a little later. The later harvesting vegetables may even continue into the next year – January/February – depending on growing conditions.

Where to grow your crops?

When growing your own veggies, a sheltered and sunny spot is your best bet. There are some exceptions to this rule, such as salad leaves and some herbs, which can bolt (run to seed) in harsh sun, and thus require a little shade.

Top tip: be realistic about your space. Plants will need a good amount of room to grow, so if you don’t have a large garden you can grow salad crops in window boxes, pots, growing bags – or even pop-up greenhouses. It’s important to never plant seeds too close together; always follow the spacing suggestions on the seed packet.

Prepping your soil and protecting your crops

Weed Killers

Get your soil ready to welcome new seeds by banishing weeds and adding well-rotted compost or manure. Ensure everything is neat and evenly distributed by raking the soil level. If weeds are running riot in your garden, consider using products like Rootblast, or this Weedol Rootkill Plus Weedkiller Spray. Pesticides such as these contain glyphosate and work by targeting the weeds at the roots. These are most advisable for clearing land and planting up quickly, as glyphosate weedkillers will allow you place new plants after only 24 hours without causing the new plants any harm. Most weedkillers are non-selective, so care should be taken when spraying near perennial plants which you want to keep in your garden.

The best time to use weedkillers would be when the weeds are thriving (usually in the Spring and Autumn) because they absorb weedkiller at a faster pace. This is particularly the case with Systemic and Selective weedkillers which rely on activity within the plant for their effectiveness. Applying liquid weedkillers in calm weather prevents the liquid spreading to wanted plants. When you apply weedkiller to the leaves, the solution will travel up to the growing points and descend to the root tips.

You should also consider the location of the weed. For example, if a weed is growing in the centre of the lawn then you should use a selective weedkiller to avoid damaging other plants, and if it is growing between patios or pavings then a residual weedkiller would save you a lot of time. For weeds that are stubborn or tricky to reach, then a Groove Weeder is an oh-so-handy tool to have in your gardening kit.

Fertilisers

A fertiliser like this First Choice Growmore Fertiliser 0.75kg will boost your soil full of extra nutrients that will give your plants the best start in life. This can be done through top

dressing (applied to the top layer before growth) or through base dressing (fertiliser that is worked more thoroughly into the soil prior to sowing or planting). Before applying fertiliser, it’s a good idea to thoroughly rid your garden of unwanted crops, as any fertiliser will also encourage faster growth for weed plants. Vegetables are especially ravenous crops and will thrive when given a slow-release fertiliser around two to three times a year. Flowers in hanging baskets or crop plant pots will benefit from weekly glugs of liquid plant food – such as this Miracle-Gro All Purpose Liquid Plant Food 1L.

Top tip: to prevent weeds from growing in bare soil in the first place, it’s a good idea to lay down mulch with a thick layer of bark chippings, well-rotted manure or leaf mould in April/May time. This will enable your soil to remain moist, whilst preventing nasty weeds from flourishing.

Pesky slugs and snails can also be fended off with copper tape – or other physical barriers. It’s best to grow vulnerable plant (like salad leaves and courgettes) indoors first and then depot them outside when they’re large enough to survive attack. If the slugs are proving to be an unbeatable force, then you can also pull out iron phosphate slug pellets. Ants can also be problematic for many gardens; you can also get them under control with products like Nippon Ant Killer Powder.

Which vegetables should I start with?

To begin your exciting veggie patch, it’s best to begin with simple crops like potatoes or onions. You can find these easy vegetable bulbs and seeds online at FabFinds. With Desiree and Estima Potato seeds, begin by digging straight trenches 12cm deep and 60cm apart. Disperse the seed potatoes 30cm apart and cover them with soil by smoothing over the trench. When the shoots reach 20cm tall – it’s time to get earthing up! This means grabbing a rake to mound soil up against the bottom of the shoots so the stems are half-covered.

Onions are also a great addition to a vegetable patch. Begin by sowing onion seed indoors in January, so they are ready to plant out in spring. Sow your seeds in a pot or tray of moist seed compost, around 1cm apart. When the seedlings are a few inches tall, prick them out and transplant into fresh, peat-free multi-purpose compost. When they are established, transplant seedlings into the garden, and plant them around 10-15cm apart.

Keep your crops looking organised with Fence Garden Borders

Why bother with Fence Garden Borders? Fencing offers protection for your plants from the wind. For certain delicate veggies and flowers, fencing can also stop your crops from receiving too much sunlight. Animals and insects will adore munching on those carrots, tomatoes, and other tasty veggies, so fencing will provide an extra barrier to stop them.

Rogue blades of grass and lawn weeds can also be kept under control, as distinct borders prevent unwanted invaders.

Flower bed edging and path edging can also be a wonderful way to decorate your garden, as the borders will add dimension to your garden. Classic fencing ideas include bricks, seashells, log edging, stones and terracotta pipes. Or you can opt to go for some sturdy Hammer-In-Edging with elegant styles like Black Victorian. The edging you choose really depends on your own decorative tastes, if you like a crisp and neat garden then Hammer-In-Edging is your best bet, but if you’re just having fun with the children then sea-shells can add a lovely beachy touch. Garden sheers are the perfect trimming tool to ensure that your plants look well-groomed within your fencing.

Find all the gardening supplies you need with FabFinds

So what are you waiting for? With FabFinds Garden Shop, you can find everything you need and more to make your garden look like a paradise. We even have affordable outdoor solar lighting and stylish decorations (like the classic garden gnome!) which you can use to decorate and draw more attention to all your hard-work. Even if you are not a keen gardener, you can still invite nature into your life with our gorgeous range of Artificial Plants. These stunning faux plants are still bursting with vibrant and fresh colours that will bring your space to life. Also check out our blog on how to make wild birds flock to your garden with our excellent range of bird feeders, bird food and bird nests. This way, both your entire family and wonderful wildlife can enjoy your beautiful garden.

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