Ever since we moved into our new house we have been inspired to create a beautiful little oasis in our back garden. Before the lockdown started we bought a shed load of compost and seeds. We poached some gardening equipment from our parents and started the gardening process. The only experience we've had with gardening over the years is being at home with our parents, watching and helping them mow the lawn and plant a couple of flowers in the summertime. Until of course we spent 5 weeks in the beautiful Slovenian countryside having a crash course in gardening and permaculture. (You can see the video here) Our time growing veggies in Europe has ignited an interest in us and the satifaction gained from watching your plants grow from seedlings to edible food you can enjoy round the dinner table is what we would love to experience every year.
We were very kindly bought a pack of seeds from The Real Seed Company for christmas by our Slovenian hosts which included the following seeds.
- Flashy Butter Oak lettuce
- D'Eyesines carrot
- Sanguina beetroot
- Striato di Napoli courgette
- Stupice tomato
- Cupidon bean
- Oskar pea
- Liesde Hangdown broad bean
- Fordhook Giant chard
In no way shape or form do we claim to be experts in gardening. We spend half our time googling and watching Youtube videos looking for tips and the right thing to do but if we can inspire someone to take the plunge into growing flowers and veggies then that would be great!
To begin with we read the planting instructions on the back of each seed packet, check which seeds need to be started off inside and which ones can go straight into the ground later on. With this in mind we made a start planting up all of the seeds in any containers we could find, we had a couple of seed trays given to us by Robins grandparents, Alternatively you can make your own seed trays we kept plenty of takeaway containers/supermarket packaging and then made plenty of holes in the bottom of them for drainage.
After laying out our planting trays and deciding the amount of plants we wanted to plant we naively just popped a couple of each seeds in each hole, making little labels as we go so we would know what we planted later down the line.
We then covered each of the trays with the clear plastic covers they come with or alternatively if you've made your own you can use a clear plastic food bag or a plastic sheet will usually do the trick, this is to keep the moisture and warmth locked in to help the seeds germinate. We learnt that a lot of the seeds like specific temperatures to help them germinate and putting them in a south facing window keeps the temperature nice and warm. We even built a little table in our bedroom window so we have space for the majority of our plants as this is the sunniest spot in our house and our seeds can capture as much sunlight as possible.
After a couple of days the seeds started to germinate, its an amazing feeling when your sceptical about having any success and then your doubts transform into elation when you see the first green little shoots starting to curl from under a small layer of soil. The plants will all take different lengths of time to germinate. Some grow quite large quickly and need repotting, others take much longer so its important to not loose track of each plant and their needs but most importantly not to lose hope!
We checked on seeds everyday making sure they have plenty of water, light and also because you will you find yourself slightly obsessed with their progress! Growing your own veg from seed is definitely a labour of love but one that is slightly addictive and rewarding, its so lovely to have something to check in with on a daily basis.
After a week or so we re-potted some of the larger plants into their own individual pots, this makes them easy to move around and gives them plenty of room for their roots to grow. We are now keeping these plants outside resting on top of their destined beds but covering them up at night with a sheet of clear tarpaulin. We are doing this to start to acclimatise the plants to being outside but making sure to keep them warm when the temperature drops over night, we are also running out of space inside as we keep planting more seeds!
Many seeds can be planted directly into the ground but we've decided against this as our outdoor soil isn't quite in the best condition yet (We have used various ways to improve our outdoor soil which we will cover in our next blog post!) and the weather has been quite inclement so its easy to bring them indoors if the temperatures drop too low.
We hope to keep up to date with this blog. just showing pictures of our amateur gardening story along with things we have learnt and what we have mainly done wrong... along with some things we might get right to help you guys out!
What we have learnt since we started
1. Don't underestimate your seeds! We started by putting a couple of each seeds into each little growing pod, fully expecting half of them not to grow, particularly the carrots and chard, and they all did. All of the seeds we planted seemed to grow and before the week was over we had the lengthy task of separating each delicate little stem and replanting them, now we have hundreds of seeds which were not quite sure what to do with!
2. If you don't know something, google it. Every single unknown we have come across we have solved by googling. There is a wealth of knowledge online that helps your gardening journey and when you get the hang of things, its a really enjoyable and fun thing to do!
3. keep an eye on the weather, if like us you don't have a green house and you've planted in spring and have you plants outside keep and eye on the weather! a couple of times we've had to bring all of our pots inside due to the weather dropping to near freezing as this will kill your plants and ruin all your hard work!
4. Use pencil when writing your labels instead of pen as we found out the hard way! and when we first watered our seeds the ink washed off and we didn't know what anything was.
If you would like to see more frequent updates on our gardening experience head over to our instagram @thehendersonsshop and check out our highlights!