Starting to grow - a beginners journey

I’ll start by saying, not only is this a beginner’s attempt at organic gardening, but gardening in general. A little about me, to give you a little context. I am by no means a gardening guru but merely a young marketing grasshopper willing to learn and relying on the advice from Garden Organic.

As we are all going through isolation together, this series will take you through the highs and hopefully minimal lows of novice Organic Growing. Having reflected on the current situation, this seems the best time for me to try to grow our own produce and be kinder to Mother Nature. I am, like many others, spending all of my time at home and in the garden, why on earth would I be using harmful toxins, corrosive chemicals in my ‘safe’ space? It really got me thinking on care for my environment and I want it to be a harmonious area that I can grow my own veggies. Mistakes and happy accidents may happen along the way, I am sure, but we are in it together. What a better way to learn?

First things first, I ask myself, where should I start growing my veggies? My quest begins with a little background reading, I discover that a vegetable patch needs 6-8 hours of sun a day, although some vegetables can survive in partial shade of 4-6 hours. I am lucky enough to have a fair-sized lawn that is mainly grass and dandelions. So, with a pencil in hand I sketch out the lawn space while thinking about where the sun shines throughout the day.

Oh wonderful! The perfect spot for my vegetable garden is the most neglected area, overrun by weeds and used as a bit of a garden storage space/ dumping ground. It seems a mountain of a task, so before I continuing with my quest, I take to a chair in the middle of the garden, I tilt my head back to feel the sun on my face, taking in the fresh air and the bird song is simply divine. As I sit appreciating the glorious weather that has been gifted to us. I start to doodle on my plan of the garden adding splashes of colour and imagining the possibilities of what a truly organic space would be like. Realising I don’t understand the extent and commitment of what it means to be a gardener or even an organic one at that, I pick up this little gem: “The Principles of Organic Gardening” and instead of spending this glorious afternoon with back breaking weeding, I take to reading.

Blimey there is a lot more to the organic life than not spraying chemicals and I make another important discovery... To start gardening the organic way I don’t need to spend the entire afternoon doing back breaking labour as actually ‘No dig’ is a thing! And that covering (mulching) weeds gets rid of them. I need to smother them, so they don’t get light and then they die? But first I have to clear the area by moving the old bits of fence and empting old pots laying around. Ah yes, and the chewed frisbee I thought the dog had eaten last year! Now I feel like the journey has really began, Hands and knees pressed into the dirt I start to trowel out weeds from my plot. As I progress through the weeds creating miniature craters behind me I was feel as though I am in full garden mode. Oh no! The guilt! I have chopped my first innocent earthworm in half and it is too much grief to bear.

I change my technique and practice the “pinch and twist technique” – I am not sure if this is a technical gardening term but I have taken to pinching the weed as close as I can to the soil and twisting it so that the root can be pulled out. I feel like a much gentler warrior now protecting the earth and any earthworms.

In this time of crisis, I know I can’t just pop to the shops to buy mulch (even if the shop is open). What’s more, looking online there are so many mulching options that it is overwhelming. I have no clue what I am looking. Breathing in, dirt on my hands and knees I decide to keep it simple and thankfully I have remembered a pile of cardboard boxes in the loft and in the garden shed. I flatten these down and create a cardboard cover over the soil.

I can honestly say, it is satisfying to see the space now that didn’t take me days to clear but it was also a free workout! For a couple of hours I escaped and momentarily forgot the troubles of the world. Looking at the spot covered with cardboard and weighed down by bits of rock and brick, I feel a great anticipation that this new space is to become my organic paradise.

For those of you, who like me, are wanting to start your organic gardening journey, I would advise reading the First Steps in Organic Gardening. Take time to plan your space, even if you are unsure of what to plant initially creating a pipe dream of what is to become, can be a wonderful motivation. So, put those troubles aside, start your journey and begin to grow. Look forward to all the possibilities! Above all, enjoy your gardening efforts and stay safe!

More about Julie...

Julie Walton-Evans is our new Marketing Officer here at Garden Organic, her background is from a line of work in various charity sectors. She enjoys nature and travel has been a huge part of her life. Julie is still very new to the organic scene. She lives in Coventry with her partner and have a garden of their own and with the inspiration taken from her father as a writer as well as the passionate culture of Garden Organic, she thinks there is no better time to start to grow and share her story with you.

Click here for a full list of our Organic Gardening Blogs. There's something to interest everyone, from frugal gardening, wildlife and starting out, to wellbeing and allotment growing. Each series is written by a member of our staff, touching on their own personal experiences. We hope you enjoy reading.