When Gardening is Your Second Language
“Creating a garden starts as an interest and soon becomes a lifetime’s obsession. One that can be engaged at a moment’s notice by simply stepping outside.” – This Beautiful Fantastic
“I don’t have green fingers”. If I had a rand for every time I’ve uttered those words, I would be sipping a very long drink on a very small island somewhere very exotic.
A few years back we moved into a new house and one morning, by chance, I met our neighbour on the pavement. He commented that he loves what we are doing with the garden. Letting nature run its course rehabilitating it to its natural state. To this day I am still not sure if he was being sincere or sarcastic, but my cheeks still sting with embarrassment when I think of it. I then realised, as un-green as these fingers are, a garden intervention was needed. And so began my journey as The Reluctant Gardener.
The road from cacti-killer to fern-whisperer was strewn with many failures and heart bouncing jigs of joy for every new green shoot. And often this journey just consisted of sitting quietly, literally watching plants grow or willing them with my mindpowers to do so. If you too are as reluctant a gardener as I was, don’t give up! If I can, so can you. Hang in there. The pride and the undiluted happiness surviving flora will give you is worth the effort. So, here are a few remarks on my journey that might help you:
Reluctant Gardener’s Tips for Success:
Sun, soil and water.
If you understand how plants react to these three elements you will ace this challenge and soon be doing your own happy garden dance.
Read the label
When buying new plants, read the label and do as instructed. This might seem like a no-brainer but you would be surprised! (Or maybe it was just me who thought that I could just wing it.) Oh, if only I could turn back the clock and tell the newbie gardener in me to listen to this advice. Loads of anguish would be spared right there. Spot the sun Spend some time in your garden and note which areas get full sun for how long and which areas get none. Then choose your plants for these areas according to your findings.
Do the groundwork
The same goes for the soil. Make sure, when purchasing plants, what soil type they like. If you suspect that your soil is not suitable, take a sample to your local nursery. Here’s the thing; plant people are really cool and more than willing to share advice.
Just enough love
More often than not we overwater plants. Not all plants like wet feet, so water according to their needs. Again, remember to read the label.
Take it easy
Build your confidence by starting with smaller, easier projects and working your way to the bigger tasks.
Plan to plant
As with everything in life, the planning and prep work takes much longer than the actual task. Do the work here and save yourself some heartache and money.
Greener on the other side
Grass is like your favourite pair of black pants, often unappreciated but oh so forgiving. If you plant the right variety according to your garden’s sun exposure, it really is easy to grow and maintain. With loads of instant lawn options, you can cover bare patches and have your garden looking inviting and green within a day.
Out by the roots
Weeding is far more important and harder than you think. Do yourself a favour and do it right the first time. When weeding, make sure you remove the weed and its roots, otherwise, it will just grow back and it will feel like you’re stuck in a vicious cycle where all you do is weed.
Keep it simple
Be wary of too much variety. Planting various types of plants in one bed might make for some nice variety and visual interest. But unless you’ve done your homework and paired the plants well, what you envisioned and reality will differ vastly. For us wannabe gardeners grouping plants together works better.
If you’re unsure, plant it in a pot. Pots can be moved around until you’ve cracked the plant’s code and know exactly what conditions work best for them. Thereafter, you can transfer it to the right spot in the garden.
My biggest lesson learned in the garden?
Creating a garden really is humbling, it keeps you on your knees, figuratively and literally. It’s gruelling and tough but teaches patience and gives hope. It lets you experience pure delight and that it is never too late to learn a new skill.