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Hopeless beginner gardener looking for help, please

Hi, I bought a new build property last year with a rear, south-facing garden. I now want to start a flower, veg and fruit patch and a few small trees and plants, and have allocated space to do so. Being a new build garden I assume the soil is poor for what I need so, I need some advice on what to do, what do buy, and how much, to start growing vegetables. I have read articles that I may need compost, fertilizer and top soil, but not sure, can anyone help?

Many thanks in advance



  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 6,141
    edited May 2020
    Hi Paul,
    The first step is to make a plan, not to go at it willy-nilly. A few nice plants in big pots whole you think about it would be one way to begin.
    First thing, draw a plan roughly to scale of what's there already - walls/fences, patio, path, grass, shed?, and where your doors and windows are (I notice lots of new builds come with french doors). How long and wide is the garden? Maybe it's an irregular shape?
    Then make a list of must-haves - bigger patio, shed, bike store, washing line/whirly thing, place for bins, that sort of thing.
    Then what you want to grow and what you want to use the garden for, including whether you have children, dogs, chickens, whatever (OK probably not chickens). Do you want to spend a lot of time gardening, or to have an outdoor space that doesn't need much maintenance?
    Also, what style of garden do you like? You might not really have a view on this yet but if you do, take it into account.
    If you post those on here I'm sure people will have lots of good ideas. If you can post a few pics and tell us roughly whereabouts you are that'll help too (what you can grow depends on your climate).
    Sorry that's a bit long! Hopefully not too overwhelming though.
  • paulfeypaulfey Posts: 4
    Hi Jenny, thank you for your feedback, that is awesome! :) 

    I have posted an image of our garden and the space in red is where we are planning to create our beds. We have got the decorative wooden border roll which sits 15cm above ground level. As far as I can tell, I need to dig out the old soil, replace that with compost, fertilizer and top soil before I start planting (do I need any lime?) The left side of the garden gets afternoon sun so more or less the required 6 hours everyone suggests, the back of the garden is shaded by the fence so only gets 2 or 3 at best so thought some small trees here. Our aim though is fruit, veg and herbs but obviously time of year reduces what we can grow yet.

    Hope this helps but once again thank you very much for your advice so far, very much appreciated!
  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 6,141
    I don't think you need to remove the topsoil - just strip off the turf and mix in your compost/rotted manure/new topsoil. If you're raising the level of the soil, you'll need something to keep it off the fence posts and panels or it'll make them rot.
    I wouldn't add lime unless you know that your soil is too acidic for the crops that you want to grow, but maybe the veg growers on here will be able to advise. I only grow tomatoes, cucumbers and a few new potatoes in tubs, and occasionally some salad leaves.
    You'll get more choice in fruit trees and things like raspberry canes if you order bare-root ones for autumn/winter delivery and planting (when they're dormant). For this year you'll probably be able to fit in some quick-growing salads, radishes etc. And herbs can be bought in pots and planted any time.
  • paulfeypaulfey Posts: 4
    Thanks again Jenny!

    Ooh I didn't think about keeping the raised bed away from the fence, so thanks for that, we've decided to start prepping the garden in Autumn as we feel this will be more beneficial for planting and gives us more time to prepare and decide what we actually want. 

    I think we're on the same page of what we want to grow so your advice has been very invaluable to us so again, thanks for that, it's been very much appreciated and given us a lot more knowledge and confidence to plough on ahead, pardon the pun.

    I'll post the progress on this chat when we get started.

    Thanks again Jenny, you're a star!
  • NewBoy2NewBoy2 BristolPosts: 1,807
    You are not a " Hopeless Gardner " are now a " Gardener."

    Just be Excited and Brave !!


    Everyone is just trying to be Happy.....So lets help Them.
  • paulfeypaulfey Posts: 4
    Haha, thanks NewBoy2, we will see… Watch this space :#
  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 6,141
    You're very welcome @paulfey :). Keep us posted on your progress, we love a project.
  • Nanny BeachNanny Beach Posts: 7,736
    You could get some herbs going now, in pots in your table, lettuces, tomatoes, in pots, in a sunny sheltered spot.Mostly too late for seeds, but you can buy plants.dwarf  root stock .Get a soil testing kit, find out which way the garden faces.yes you will probably have to improve the soil, our place was built in the 60s, Hubby put up a new fence about 3 years ago, and that bit of ground was still full of the builders rubble No rason why you cant mix veg and ornamental stuff in the same beds.I have a book "all you can eat in 3 square feet". You can get it on Amazon, so clever right from pots.  Jenny (brilliant!!) has covered everything.  You also need to think about how much time you want to spend, (when normallity ,sort of returns) Shed,greenhouse,cold frame?
  • Nanny BeachNanny Beach Posts: 7,736
    Meant to put dwarf fruit trees, you can leave them in pots.  I have cherries,plum,fig,pear.
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