Is your resolution to create a garden this year or to improve your skills? Then read on as I have a bunch of resources, tips and inspiration to get you growing! Gardening is a skill that anyone can learn but you need to be prepared for success as well as the challenges.
Believe You Can
I don’t think there is such a thing as a born ‘green thumb’ but rather it’s that some people are more relaxed about gardening and accept the inevitable failures as being just a part of nature and not an indication of their skill. Green thumbs also garden more. They will plant entire banks of annuals, rows of raised veggie beds and then dive over the fence to help their neighbours. More skilled gardeners will also readily spring into action when challenges arise because of their experience and also their confidence in themselves. They are willing to give things a go. Green thumbs often have had gardeners in their families or been around horticulture of some sort in their childhood or youth and that familiarity breeds confidence. This all makes them appear a lot more successful than timid newbies who nurse along a couple of houseplants and a few seedling punnets while wondering if those yellowing leaves are ok. In saying this, I’m not suggesting that those new to gardening invest in hundreds of plants from the start. What I do hope is that you understand that gardening is a skill that is learned like any other craft or endeavour. The more you do it, the greener your thumb will become and your belief in longer term gardening success will grow.
Plan to Succeed
If you wanted to run a marathon you would not get up tomorrow morning and sprint out the door for your first ever 42Kms! To achieve success, you would gather all the information about how to do it, select your resources, create a plan and then train for your first marathon. There would also be many smaller jogs, maybe even walks before you ran that race. You might even enlist the help of a trainer or mentor. So it is with gardening!
Gather information about the types of gardens you would like to create along with foundational notes about your garden space. You have to start with good soil. There is no getting around this and it is paramount to gardening success. Soil can be improved and structure balanced to suit the types of gardens you are planning. Soil testing can be done at home with kits available from your local nursery or many offer this service in store, just ask.
Plants also have different light requirements and one of the major reasons they don’t thrive is that they are simply planted in the wrong spot. Most veggies won’t grow well, or at all, in less than six hours of full sun per day and other plants will shrivel up and die in a couple of hours of direct sun. To help you with plant selection, map out the areas of your garden that receive sun and shade. This will need to be done over the course of a day and to be efficient, because the sun’s position will naturally move through the seasons, a year. You don’t have to wait that long as there are lots of purpose made apps online that will assist you. Look for the terms ‘sun position’ or ‘sun mapping’. Some will need you to use your smart phones GPS abilities but other desk top methods will use your address like the free ‘Sun Calc’ page found at www.suncalc.org. I’ve tested it out and found Sun Calc is rather accurate and easy to use.
Learn to Garden
Go educate yourself in the ways of the plants you wish to grow! While you can enlist in courses and workshops, and these are a great way to get started, other methods to gather this knowledge include going to plant events because plant people love to talk about their passions and you will also see a vast array of offerings in your area of interest. This experience is both inspiring and educational. To learn just about anything in the garden world, read and watch! There are endless books, magazines, tv shows, Youtube clips and more that are not only about gardening but also types of plants, individual species and specialised techniques. Make sure that the information you find is relevant to your area. Climates and environments change across not only countries but states and even areas and while a lot of general information will still be helpful, you need to top that up with local knowledge, like this gardening page you are reading right now. Connecting with others is a social way to learn and there are lots of gardening groups and clubs in just about every area and catering to all sorts of plant types and techniques. You can find them with an internet search or by asking at your local nursery.
Garden Mentors - Community Gardening
Perhaps one of the very best ways to learn to garden is by joining your local community garden. One of the biggest misconceptions is that you need to be a green thumb or at least very experienced to be a part of one of these wonderful places. In my experience, the vast majority of community gardeners either started off as complete novices or with very little experience but they enjoyed the company, the community and they learned along the way. Skilled gardeners at community gardens love to share their knowledge and they need people to just show up and help do anything from sorting seeds to digging the earth or making a cuppa for the team. All physical abilities and commitment levels are welcome. You will learn to garden in your actual environment and be instantly connected to other plant organisations, ideas and wisdom. To find your local community garden hop on over to: communitygarden.org.au and on the Central Coast we have a fantastic Facebook Page: facebook.com/CentralCoastCommunityGardenNetwork
pic credit: Treloar Roses
Graham Ross AM, Australia’s most awarded horticulturist has been honoured by Treloar Roses with the naming of a rose after him. This delightfully sweet fragranced hybrid tea rose makes a wonderful cut flower and is also heat resistant. $2 from the sale of each of these roses is to be donated to NextSense (formerly known as the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children). Over the years Grahame has supported NextSense in many ways including the organisation of many well-known large flower shows at the Institute’s Sydney site and in 1991 was awarded Life Membership of NextSense. Graham is delighted to continue his support of NextSense with the release of this beautiful new rose. For more information: treloarroses.com.au
Late Summer temperate areas of Australia
Make sure you are picking beans daily as this will extend their harvest and if your cucumbers start sending out fruitless runners then snip them off to encourage these to branch out and fruit.
This week you could plant: culinary herbs, beans (dwarf and running), beetroot, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, carrot, cauliflower, celery, chicory, cress, cucumber, endive, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, marrow, mustard, onions (spring), parsnips, potatoes (tubers), radishes, rhubarb (crowns), salsify, silverbeet, swedes, sweetcorn, turnip, zucchinis, ageratum, alyssum, boronia, calendula, cineraria, cleome, cyclamen, forget-me-not, lobelia, lupin, marigold, nasturtium, pansy, poppy (Iceland), primula, stock, verbena, vinca, viola, wallflower
Cheralyn Darcey is a horticulture author and along with Pete Little, hosts ‘At Home with The Gardening Gang’ 8 - 10am live every Saturday on CoastFM96.3, on air locally or streaming by asking ‘play coastfm963’
Send your gardening questions, events, and news to: [email protected]