The First Growing Season ~ 15 Lessons Learnt

One of the beautiful sunsets from our family holiday to Bude, North Cornwall

Hello! It’s midway through July now and we are right in the middle of harvest time in the kitchen garden. I’ve used almost half of the broccoli and Spring onions, new courgettes are popping up everyday, and I’m literally counting the days until I can get stuck into the potato bed. We have an abundance of already established cutting flowers that have been prettying up the house for the past month or so. I’m hoping my homegrown Dahlias, Sunflowers, Zinnias and Cosmos will catch up soon! Things have gone far better than I expected in my first growing season, so much so that I will be attempting a 2nd round of vegetable planting as beds become free. I’ll share more on that in another post. For now though, I wanted to share some of the many lessons I’ve learned since I began my gardening adventure back in January.

  1. If it doesn’t germinate try again or buy seedlings. You are no less of a gardener if you grow everything from seedlings/plugs bought from the garden centre rather than seeds. Gardening should be stress free. The veg or flowers won’t judge you, promise! My runner beans were grown from seedling plugs, that I brought on in the potting shed before planting out after the last frost.
  2. Preparation is key. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve looked back at my sowing, feeding and harvesting table I put together back in April. It’s become my quick reference guide when I can’t remember when or how much to feed the courgettes or to know when my potatoes are ready to harvest, and it keeps me on track with my to do list.
  3. Take photos to track growth. Once everything is in the ground, growth takes off at a ridiculous rate. Its really nice to have photos of the progress over the growing cycle, to see how far things have come and how they change. I use my cell phone to take all my garden pics, then save everything to a separate photo album on my phone so I can easily go back and reference pics, like a visual journal if you will.
  4. You don’t need all the tools to get started. If you’re just starting out with a veg or flower patch, there is a fair bit of equipment to get and costs can mount quickly. But, you can make do with just a few essential tools until the budget allows. For me these were a metal soil rake, which I already had, I used it as a tiller and hoe as well as a rake. If you turn it up on its side you can also create your sowing drills with it.  Labels, labels and more labels, the wee wooden lollipops sticks are perfect and only pennies,  a trowel, a spade and a watering can with a fine rose for your seedling indoors and a larger rose for outdoor watering.
  5. Don’t compare your growth to anyone else’s. At the beginning of Spring, I realised that here in Scotland we would be trailing at least 4 weeks behind the rest of the UK in terms of growth. The daffodils had nearly come and gone down south by the time ours had arrived. Its now the height of summer, and I’ve noticed that even gardens in the same village as me are at varying stages to mine. Your garden will do its thing in its own good time.
  6. Don’t plan holidays when nearly everything is due to be harvested. Well, unless you want to miss it of course or spend your holiday worrying it will all go to seed before you get home.
  7. Wait a full growing year before you get stuck into a new garden. This is quite difficult when you’re an impatient person like me, but its worth it in the end. Whilst you wait, catalogue the plants and flowers and decide what to keep or move.
  8. And if you don’t like it, turf it. It can seem quite callous to turf a mature plant, but its you that has to look at it everyday. To ease the guilt, you could transplant it to a less conspicuous place or donate it to a neighbour.
  9. Sweet peas sown in April will not germinate. Next time I will stick to the December sowing schedule recommended by the cutting flower queen herself Sarah Raven.
  10. Jiffy Pellet wrappers should be removed before planting out. They are biodegradable but can take up to 5 years to fully disappear!
  11. Don’t water Hydrangea blooms, roots only. If the sun shines, the flowers will burn. A lesson learnt the hard way!
  12. Experiments prevent perfectionism. This has really helped me in avoiding the desire to try and make everything perfect. I planted 5 potatoes in a pot, that deep down I know is not big enough, just to see what happens. Will they likely produce a big or bountiful harvest I doubt it but I am keen to find out!
  13. If in doubt ask for help. The gardening community is one of the friendliest I’ve come across in real life, Instagram and here on my blog. People are keen to share their knowledge and their seeds!
  14. Wear gloves when harvesting Courgettes. Who knew those little buggers had spikes! Again a lesson learnt the hard way!
  15. Eating homegrown vegetables is a deeply rewarding experience and addictive!

Here’s a wee snippet of the first Broccoli harvest. You could leave the broccoli’s in the ground after the first harvest for another 4-6 weeks to get the most from the tender side shoots / heads that form. I’ll be taking mine out though after the main head harvest, in order to prep the bed for the next crops!

Thanks so much for stopping by and feel free to leave a comment below! x


1 Comment

  1. Rachel Donachie
    July 17, 2018 / 7:23 am

    Great post! I had to resow seeds again this year due to the cold spell in spring, and I ended up having to buy sweet pea seedlings as mine didn’t get going quick enough! Being in Scotland does mean everything is slower than down south. I’m a firm believer in if you don’t like a plant or if it doesn’t thrive in your garden get rid of it and try something else. If you ever want cuttings or want to visit my garden we are in colinton Edinburgh I love a bit of garden chat with a fellow gardener. Rachel xx

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