Cultivating a garden can be a very rewarding experience. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never considered yourself to be a ‘green thumb’ before. The benefits of immersing yourself in a garden of any size are numerous. Just get in there and try it! First of all, you should decide what to grow – what’s possible in the space you have and what you will enjoy the most?
- Do you have a lot of direct sunlight or mostly shade?
- Will you be able to spend a lot of time watering or pruning?
- Should you focus on seasonal plants?
If you are growing fruits, vegetables and herbs, the rewards are very tangible. You can quite literally enjoy the fruits of your labour. Otherwise, it’s more about the beauty of seeing your plants grow and bloom, perhaps attracting some wildlife, and being out in the fresh air and sunshine.
If you’re looking for some ways to up your gardening game, then look no further.
GREAT GARDENING HACKS
1. Protect yourself
The most valuable thing you can do before you start gardening is to get the right protective gear. Get a good pair of gardening gloves to safeguard your hands against blisters and cuts. A broad brimmed hat and a good quality SPF 30 sunscreen will protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
2. Easy Drip Waterer
Looking for an easy way to get the water down to the roots of your garden? Forget expensive irrigation systems. All you need is an empty soft drink bottle and a skewer. Puncture the body of the bottle plenty of times. Then, bury the bottle beside your plants, leaving the neck of the bottle above the surface of the soil for refilling.
3. Do-it-yourself watering can
Practically any empty bottle with a lid can be made into a watering can. 2 litre milk bottles are perfect – but there doesn’t absolutely have to be a handle. Just (carefully) puncture holes in a random pattern into the lid, and voila! A great way to gently water delicate plants.
4. Roses from potatoes
Did you know that you can grow roses from cuttings? Not only that, but if you place rose stems into potatoes and then plant them into the soil, the potato will maintain moisture around the base of the rose stem, while it develops roots.
5. Save your eggshells
As you make your eggs in the morning, remember to keep the shells so you can sprinkle them around the plants in your garden. Take some time to let them completely dry and then really crush them up. Not only does the calcium from the shells nourish your plants, but eggshells are also good for warding off some insects.
6. Natural mozzie repellents
If there is an area of your home where mozzies bug you, trying planting lemon thyme, catnip, lemon grass, marigold ‘lemon gem’, citronella geranium, or ageratum ‘artist purple’ – or all of them together. Why use harmful chemicals when nature has an answer?
7. Repurposed planters
Don’t let a lack of pots stop you from replanting or starting some seeds off. Small seedlings can be started in half an egg shell (great source of calcium). For slightly larger plants, like herbs, try an empty toilet paper roll. All you need to do is make four 2-3cm incisions at even intervals up from one end and fold the flaps under to create the base.
8. Save those scraps
Don’t throw out those kitchen cuttings. Leftover basil? Put the sprigs in a glass of water and watch the roots grow. Same with the base of celery stalks. Pop it in water and wait for leaves to sprout forth. With a little water, patience and gentle sun, you can move most plant cuttings into soil and cultivate a brand new plant.
9. Garden shower rack
Would you like to achieve the look of a set of hanging, layered planter boxes? It’s easy to do with an old shower caddy. Simply line each section with felt and good quality potting mix, and the racks are ready to fill with your favourite plants.
10. Sacred coffee grounds
Leftover coffee grounds are a great way to enrich your soil. Not a coffee drinker? No problem – many cafes give their used grounds away for free, specifically for composting and fertilisation. An added bonus? They can help to repel insects.
11. Beer kills…. Slugs
If slugs are nibbling away at your precious plants during the night, try leaving a saucer of beer in your garden bed. Can’t bring yourself to use beer for your garden? A little sprinkling of salt around the base of your plants can do the same trick!
12. Organic pesticide
When you have aphids and other assorted critters munching away on your plants, sometimes it requires a spray. There’s no need to buy expensive pesticides, though – you can make your own organic spray with 2tsp of neem oil, 1 tsp of castile soap, and a couple of cups of water.
Always read the label. Follow the directions for use.