We all remember helping our parents in the garden, growing sunflowers for Blue Peter and being punished for picking the vegetables before they were ripe. Yet now we are old enough to get outside and try it for ourselves, it seems there is a lot we didn’t learn from our green fingered dads. Although we can’t pretend to be experts here on the editorial desk (neither of us actually owning a garden), we have searched high and low to bring you some top tips.
It turns out some flowers need energy rich bananas as much as we do. Flowers such as roses and sweet peas require potassium, so planting a banana skin with the roots can give the plant a real boost.
No matter how thick the gardening gloves are, you always end up scrubbing for hours with a nail brush after a day outside. Apparently running your fingers along a bar of soap is a not so secret way to stop this; the soap stops dirt getting in and makes it easier to remove afterwards.
Keeping the rodents away
Did you know even the most persistent unwanted guests in your garden will be scared off by a child’s seaside windmill? It’s not the bright colours, but the vibrations of the turning plastic blades that will make them run a mile.
It’s all in the soil
Let’s dish the dirt on soil; did you know it can take a minimum of 500 years to make one inch of topsoil and that a tablespoon of the stuff has more living organisms than there are people on the earth right now. Yeah, we’re impressed too.
Tulip mania actually happened
We’ve all got a favourite flower, but not many of us would spend fortunes trying to find them. In the Dutch Golden Age, tulips were worth more than gold and Dutch gardeners would spend fortunes on bulbs. Tulips remain a popular symbol of the Netherlands, but are thankfully no longer so expensive.
Every garden needs one
What’s a garden without a gnome? Garden gnomes were introduced to England in 1847 by Sir Charles Isham; a bit of dreamer who hoped the porcelain figurine would attract real gnomes to his garden.
Planning is a must
One thing our dads didn’t mention is that you can’t just pick your favourites – like decorating a home, you should spend time planning and designing. Experts recommend using a colour wheel and working out the hours of sunlight, soil and climate of your garden before buying plants.
The all important pH
Remember those science lessons at secondary school? Turns out the pH test would have come in handy after all. Luckily, the colour of a hydrangeas leaves are your garden soil pH test; pink and red hydrangeas turn blue or purple in acidic soil, whereas blue hydrangeas will turn pink in alkaline soils. Clever isn’t it?
Listen to the leaves
You can tell a lot about a plant from its leaves. Generally speaking, thinner leaved plants need more water to stay healthy, thicker leaved varieties need less, so get a little touchy feely.
If you are ready to get outside and get gardening, why not hold those green fingers for a second and sign up to a gardening course? Learning from an expert could help you on your way to having a garden to brag to your dad about.
Jane McGuire received her BA (English) from the University of Loughborough. A yoga enthusiast with a sweet tooth, in her spare time you will probably find Jane in the gym or online shopping.