This year has definitely been a learning curve when it comes to gardening. I have learnt a lot. I have been on courses, read books and magazines about it and generally acted like a sponge when any information has come my way.
I don’t like to keep things to myself so I thought I would share the mistakes I have made and what I have learnt.
1. Gardening requires patience. Plants do not grow over night (they do but not with immediate results). I have learnt to relax with it and just let the plants do their thing.
2. All plants require food as well as water. I didn’t know this at the beginning of the year. It obviously makes sense but I didn’t know. From well rotted manure to fertilisers and plant food, everything has been nourished this year and the results have been much better.
3. Things die. Sometime you know why, sometimes you don’t but you can’t win them all and you just have to learn from any mistakes you have made and move on.
4. All compost is not the same. Cheap compost is not as fine as some you pay a little more for. I now buy professional compost from my local nursery or garden centre. You get what you pay for.
5. Label everything you sow. You think you will remember but you won’t and, unless you are a gardening expert, it becomes a wait and see job which isn’t ideal if you don’t know if the plant is a spreader or an upright.
6. Check water levels, even if it rains. I’ve pulled a few onion this year and half the soil has come with it. Pots especially need more watering-even if it has rained.
7. Keep an eye on next year-even when thing haven’t grown this year. I want to plant garlic for next year but you can’t plant it in any soil that has already grown any alliums. I think most of my beds have had onions in which is obviously a big mistake so I am either going to have to find somewhere new or replace some soil.
8. There is hardly any information out there on what plants (food in particular) look like when it is ready to be harvested. For this reason, some of my vegetables went to seed because I was waiting for them to be ready and, because they didn’t look how I imagined them to, I missed it.
9. You will become a bit obsessed. I was particularly obsessed with pests. I may have been seen out there with a torch picking off slugs. I didn’t win in this area but I tried.
10. Lower your expectations when trying to garden and grow things with children. Unless the farmer was in and the children were in bed, I got hardly any time without children to tend to my plants. My boys especially like to dig and put their toys into my vegetable patches. I began getting stressed about this but I managed to try and be pragmatic about it in the end. They know not to damage or pick anything so I just went with the flow.
I think gardening and growing veg is a continuous learning curve so while I may have learnt (somewhat) from my mistakes this year, the likelihood of making no mistakes next year is slim to none.
I have really enjoyed growing though and I think that is the most important thing.