East growing African daisy

Beginning a garden #Lifeskills 9

Start small, a couple of self-watering pots is an easy way to go. The water well means the plants are less likely to dry out if life gets too busy. These pots are great to let you grow a few herbs for your kitchen as herbs love a constant supply of moisture.

A raised garden bed is a good alternative if you have a little more space. Small DIY kits are available if you are confident to use a screw driver for assembly. For a tight budget, foam boxes can be a perfect container to grow herbs or annuals for some colour – just punch a few holes for drainage.

Increase your chance of gardening success

Whether growing in a container or garden bed there are some basic steps to increase your chance of success.

  • Use a good potting mix to boost the soil quality before planting.
  • Water in newly planted plants with a dilute sea-weed solution to give them a boost.
  • Use a mulch around the plants to help with water retention and suppress weeds.
  • Use a small plastic container for composting your kitchen scraps as a great way to boost your soils. (White food grade buckets are sold with lids, cut the bottom out of one of these, stick it directly into a shallow hole in the garden bed and you have a vermin-proof compost bin).
  • Choose plants that are the right size for your space, this means you have to be firm and only buy plants to fit your space.
  • Regularly dig the soil over to keep it light and airy, use an old fork as a cheap digging tool.
  • Use a schedule (ie. Two regular nights a week) for your watering. Plants are much better off receiving a regular supply and will not be so prone to disease if not stressed from dehydration. Add some water crystals around plants to help the soil hold moisture.

Plant selections

Plants that are easy to grow are succulents or sedums. They are very efficient with their water-usage and they are very easy to propagate – ask a local gardener if you can have piece from their garden as they literally just need to be pushed lightly into soil to start to send down roots.

For an excellent flowering plant Osteospermum (South African Daisy) offers a hardy plant that comes in a wide array of colours. For great foliage colour the Nandina Domestica ‘Nana’ (sacred bamboo) offers lovely red and green leaves all year round. If you are after food produce then planting a variety of rocket lettuces is an easy grow salad addition. A beautiful rosemary in a large pot is a great feature plant as well as a lovely culinary aid for the kitchen.

Whatever you choose to do with your new garden space, remember to start with something simple and learn and enjoy!

Thanks to Phil Gibbs from [email protected] for these great tips!