You’re reading Here, Try This – our month-long plan encouraging you to try something new every day.
Gardening is both an art and a scientific experiment, with plenty of luck and skill thrown in for good measure. Hundreds of thousands of Brits across the country have been keeping their hands busy lately, tending to their own gardens, window boxes or allotments – so much so there’s even a seed shortage.
It’s no wonder that lockdown gardening has boomed. As anyone remotely green-fingered will tell you, time spent nurturing a garden is great for mind, body, and soul.
But where do you start? Look no further than this beginner’s guide. Arm yourself with the basics and there’s really no need to feel intimidated as a novice. Even well-seasoned gardeners don’t know it all. That’s one of the great joys of gardening. It’s the very definition of a work in progress.
Find your soil-mate
First things first, it’s important to know what type of soil you have because that will affect what you’re trying to grow. “The best thing to do is buy yourself a soil testing kit, which can be found in most garden centres and nurseries,” Steven Howes, director of The Real Gardener, tells HuffPost UK. “You stick them in the ground and it’ll tell you the pH level.”
This will tell you if your soil is more acidic or alkaline in makeup. Different types of plants like different types of soil – and while there isn’t a one soil-fits-all, most plants thrive in slightly acidic soil as it gives them better access to nutrients.
“Another good way to check the soil is by judging what’s surrounding the area and what’s flourishing in the soil,” says Howes. “Azaleas, camellia, and rhododendrons, for example, like acidic soil. You might want to mix in peat moss if a...