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Friday, January 30, 2009

Gardening in Babysteps ~ Part 1

Do you admire other peoples' gardens and think, "Aww, wish I could do that." Many people never try gardening because they think there is some special talent or mysterious magic needed to be able to grow beautiful flowers and vegetables. I can tell you now that no one need be excluded from gardening and the only magic needed is provided by Mother Nature herself. You will never know if you can grow things unless you try...... I expect even Alan Titchmarsh and Charlie Dimmock were beginners at some point in their lives. Alan didn't just step outdoors and grow the perfect border on his first attempt and I bet it took Charlie some time to get her first water feature just right! Anyway, come on..... time to give it a go. Rather than growing in the open garden, for a first attempt grow some seeds in a large container. There are plenty to choose from; perhaps a plain and simple one like this.
........ or an ornate one like this. You can choose any pot you want.... it's your garden and you are the designer.

Next you will need a bag of multipurpose potting compost which you can buy from garden centres and diy stores. Fill your container with the compost to within about two or three inches from the top and water gently so that it is just damp and not sodden. Using a watering can with the rose/sprinkler attachment will make it easier.

Now you want to think about which flowers you'd like to grow. Try something really easy first, seeds that will germinate readily and quickly. By trying something that needs more attention, you could be setting yourself up for possible disappointment.

Here's a pretty annual I would recommend. By 'annual' I mean that it is sown, flowers and dies all in one year. It wont appear again unless you plant more seeds the following Spring. The good thing about annuals is that they are so easy to grow, just what we want, and they put on a bright and colourful display. This one is called Nasturtium (pronounced nastursh-eeum). They come in shades of red, orange, peach and cream. The seeds are about the size of a pea so they are easy to plant. All you have to do is push the seed about half-an-inch (1.5cm) below the surface of the compost. In a container the size of the ones shown, you will be able to grow three nasturtium plants. Keep the soil damp and don't let it dry out. It's best to wait until the weather is brighter and warmer before planting your seeds. Mid to late Spring is best and you will see your 'baby' seedlings push their way through the soil in about fourteen to twenty-one days.

This is another annual called 'Love-in-a-Mist' or to give it its latin name, Nigella damascena. The blue-purple is gorgeous and there is another variety called Nigella Persian Jewells, the flowers being various shades of pink, lilac, blue and white. Very pretty. Follow the instructions I gave for the nasturtiums, filling your container with the compost and watering it just enough to make the compost damp. Nigella seeds are much smaller so instead of pushing them below the surface of the soil, just sprinkle them on the surface. You can mix a little silver sand in with your seeds to make it easier to see where they are being sown. That way you will get a more even sowing. All you have to do now is sprinkle a fine covering of compost over them and keep the compost damp as before. Your little Nigella seedlings will make an appearance in about eight to fifteen days. Put your pots of flowers in sun or part-shade and they will bring some welcome colour to your garden or patio all Summer long.

Other easy to grow annuals are Cosmos, Bells of Ireland, Larkspur, Sweet Pea and Marigold.

Finally, there are no rules when it comes to gardening. If you like a certain colour combination or the way certain plants look together, that is all that matters. Personally, I think Dandelions look great with Purple Honesty. :)

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