Jacque Tucker: Tips for gardening newbies

Home and Garden,
Publish Date
Sunday, 23 July 2017, 11:06AM

New to gardening? You’ve just taken up a hobby that may become an addiction, plus it’s really good for you and it helps makes the world a nicer place.  It can be a bit overwhelming though, so here are some of my top tips for beginner gardeners.


  1. It doesn’t have to be brilliant straight away. Pinterest and websites are great for inspiration, but those gardens aren’t always achievable from the get go.  Start small, grow a couple of things from seed or some flower punnets from the garden centre. Let your ambitions grow with your experience!
  2. Read LOTS! There are some really good gardening blogs around, garden magazines and websites full of information, but nothing beats a good book filled with advice. I’ve found googling can turn up contradictory and dodgy advice whereas books tend to be on the money….something about the published word maybe.  The library, TradeMe and second hand book stores are awesome.
  3. It will never be perfect. Because not everything blooms or harvests at the same time there will generally be parts of your garden that look average to rubbish. And that’s OK.
  4. It may not be dead. Or it may not be your fault, at least! Plants have seasons, and some just die back for a bit. Check the label and see what sort of plant it is, or google it – annual plants grown from seed bloom, set seed and die. Not your fault, it’s what they do. Biennials do it over two years, and some perennials will die back for a spell but carry on. If you think it’s really, really dead – gently check the roots. If they look white (or coloured) and healthy, the plant is still alive.  Which leads us on to number 5…
  5. Things dies – embrace your failures! Don’t be disheartened, even the best most experienced gardeners have plants die on them. Do some investigation - if you can figure out what killed it you’ve just learned heaps, and you’ll get it right next time.
  6. You’re probably overwatering it. It’s easier to kill a plant by overwatering than by underwatering. Push your finger into the soil, if it feels moist you generally don’t need to water. Other signs are mouldy soil, mushrooms and a dank smell.
  7. Little green shoots are awesome! Seeing new growth pop out of the soil, new leaves or the first flower bud on something you’ve planted – it is such a buzz.  Nothing beats wandering around the garden checking out all the new things that have happened….and I highly recommend doing it with a glass of wine in hand!

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