Discover how to get green-fingered with Telegraph journalist and author Alice Vincent’s essential guide to gardening, taken from her book ‘How To Grow Stuff’. Part of our At Work With series.
Universal Growing Info
While I have managed to grow lots of plants in containers that have very little material added to improve drainage, all plants prefer pots that let excess water drain away and stop their roots from rotting. So if you’re growing in pots, it’s worth adding some stones, rubble or old bits of terracotta plant pot (known as ‘crocks’) in the bottom of them before you fill up with compost or potting soil, which will help the drainage. If you want to use an ornamental pot that doesn’t have any holes in the bottom, you can always plant into a plastic everyday flowerpot that does have holes inside it and hide this within your pretty container. If you are using quirky, unconventional containers to grow in, such as oil cans, get out the drill and make a few holes in the base.
Light And Wamth Is Important
Whether your first seedlings are just popping up, or you’re trying to make something from the garden centre bloom, all of the plants in this book like sunlight. So make room for them on bright windowsills and look for the sunny spots in your garden that they can make their home.
Many beginner gardeners will overwater plants out of love and concern, causing them to wilt (which can inspire more zealous watering) and die. If you’re unsure whether to water, stick a finger in the soil to check. If it feels damp, you don’t need to water. If it feels dry or dusty, you do.
Think About Your Space
Gardening books and pictures online will show beautiful troughs overflowing with flowers and foliage; this idyllic picture is possible to achieve with some varieties and some containers, but if you’re growing vegetables or herbs, expect a more gappy look, as they will need room to spread out and do their thing – namely, making delicious food for you. So, take a good, hard look at your growing space and be realistic about what you can get in there. if you’ve only got a balcony, you’ll need to get large containers to grow vegetables. (Make sure your balcony can handle the weight.) If you have only a windowsill, look out for dwarf varieties of plants. Even if you have a great big garden – you lucky thing – pay attention to which are the sunny and shady bits, and where space can be freed up that is best for what you want to grow.
Keep An Eye On Stuff
Growing becomes addictively rewarding when you start paying a little attention. Before you know it, you’ll be rushing out to tend your plants the minute you get back from work or a holiday. Try to take a look at your lot every day to see how things are doing – this, more than anything, is the best way to learn about your plants and what they need to grow well.
Win! One of 10 Copies of ‘How To Grow Stuff’ by Alice Vincent
We’re giving away 10 copies of ‘How To Grow Stuff’ by Alice Vincent, the no-stress gardening guide for beginners. For your chance to win, tell us what your favourite plant or flower is – and why. Good luck!