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How not to fail at gardening

Honestly, there's a lot of myth and mystery spouted about gardening, but itís really not complicated. Yes, it gets quite scientific the further you go into it, but the basic wish is that you put a plant into the ground or pot and it grows. If this goes wrong, there are only a few reasons (most of which you can work out if you think about it) and they can be avoided.

Do your groundwork - a few simple steps will make things go much more smoothly.

  • work out what you want to achieve
  • test the soil pH
  • research whether the plant you like will grow where you want to put it

Keep the labels and receipts - buy your plants from a reputable nursery or garden centre who offer a guarantee that they will replace the plant if it dies. Keeping the label also lets you check what the plant is called if you are likely to forget.

Plant well - dig a big enough hole, use a stake if necessary and firm the soil after planting. Apply fertiliser around the soil surface after planting so it will wash down to the root zone. If you are planting into a container, buy fresh new compost of a type appropriate for the plant.

Water well - water is essential if a new plant is going to establish and grow well. Every plant function relies on water and without enough, the cells within the plant shrink, lose contact with each other (which we see as wilting) and stop working.

Feed - itís a myth that there will be enough food in the soil or compost to last the plant forever and how would you look if you had no food for years? Plants in the garden should be fed with a general fertiliser at least every spring and plants in containers should have 6-month controlled-release fertiliser granules mixed into the compost surface in spring to last through the season.

Be aware - this is harder to quantify, but if you go to check your plants regularly, you will notice when they look too dry, too wet or are suffering a pest or disease attack. The earlier you deal with a problem, the better the chance of complete recovery.

Treat problems - pests and diseases can spread remarkably quickly around the garden and are best dealt with as soon as you notice them. If you are unsure what the problem is, use our Plant Doctor tool to try and pinpoint it.

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This story was published on: 04/11/2019

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