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A Novice/Beginner in Desperate Need of Help!

ForknerForkner Wales, UKPosts: 7
Hello everyone,

I'm brand new here and over the next few weeks I may end up posting a lot on here looking for advice so apologies in advance for that! Lol.

Basically, my Father passed away last month and he had a lot of various different herbs, fruit and vegetables growing in his garden... all potted. I couldn't bare the idea of letting it all die so I've decided to do my best to continue to grow and hopefully harvest at least some of it. He was only a beginner himself having started doing this in the last year or so, but he knew a lot more than I did about gardening, or the basics at least. I have categorically zero experience or knowledge of gardening. I'd never so much as watered a plant before so I've been doing this blind for weeks, although I am enjoying trying and can see myself continuing to do this even after I've either successfully harvested, or killed what my Dad started growing lol.

I'm so sorry for this long opening post, but I'd really really appreciate some guidance from some of you more knowledgeable gardeners here. I'm going to try and keep it as brief as I can for now as I don't want to bombard my first post here with endless lists of questions.

I've managed to identify all but one of what's growing in the garden. I have uploaded two images below of the one I've not identified. The first was from a few weeks ago, the second is how it looks now. I'm fairly sure it's a herb, not a vegetable (could be wrong). Some family and friends think it might be parsley or coriander, but they can't be sure. I've googled images of these herbs and it's... inconclusive.

If anyone would be so kind and tell me what it is, and also when it's ready to pick, how much to pick and if all of it, how to store it, I'd be so grateful.

Altogether, growing in the garden, there are onions, carrots, beetroot, strawberries, four or five variations of tomatoes, chives, raddish, runner beans, lettuce... I think that's all of them! For now I'd just like to know how often I need to water these plants. Is it once a day, once a week, couple of times a week? It's all too vague on google. I've watered as and when I've felt necessary and the plants seem to change from looking great one day to looking worse for wear the next, so I guess I need to water more often.

Thanks in advance for any answers! Sorry again for the long post!


  • herbaceousherbaceous OxfordshirePosts: 2,313
    Hi there and welcome to the wonderful world of gardening and "What the heck is that?" lots of fun and quite a few surprises  :)

    I can see why you thought it might be flat leaved parsley but it looks more like parsnips to me, only because there is the trilobed leaf on the end of each stalk.  If that sounds like I know what I'm talking about don't be fooled.

    There are many veg experts on this forum who will be able to say for sure.
    "The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it."  Sir Terry Pratchett
  • strelitzia32strelitzia32 Posts: 767
    Sorry to hear about your father... Let's see if we can help in the easiest way possible.

    Those photos look like coriander/cilantro to me. Easy way to test - pull one of the big leaves off, crush it/roll it between your fingers. If it smells like coriander, mystery solved! If you aren't sure what coriander smells like, if it has a strong herby smell and reminds you of tacos, it's coriander.

    For watering, each plant will have slightly different needs. Chillies like compost to be dry, courgette like compost to be moist. The simplest solution is to push your finger about 3cm below the surface of the compost in a pot. If it's damp, don't water. Overwatering is as bad as not watering! If it's dry, water. Don't rely on feeling the surface of the compost!

    Before you water, lift the pot up with one hand. This is a really quick and easy way to check if watering is needed - you'll get used to the weight of a dry pot vs an empty pot.

    When you water, put enough water through the pot so it runs out the holes in the bottom. Don't let anything stand in water.

    Try to water onto the compost, and don't be tempted to water "from a height" so the leaves are soaked. Some plants hate this, so it's easier to just not do it.

    When you're lifting the pots up, look underneath to see if any roots are poking out the holes. If they are, make a note because you may want to repot these in future - move them to a bigger pot so they continue to grow. Even if you don't want to repot, these are the pots that will dry out the quickest, so it's worth keeping an eye on them.

    If you get time, buy a bottle of Tomorite. This is a feed. You add some to a watering can and use it once a week. It will really help the tomatoes and strawberries grow fruit.

    Good luck, and I'm sure more experienced people will have great suggestions for you.
  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 SomersetPosts: 10,535
    Hello, I am so sorry for your loss, this must be a really tough time for you but it's great you are tryng to keep your father's legacy alive. 
    That doesn't look like parsley to me so I'm guessing its coriander but can't be certain as I don't grow herbs myself. As for watering, veg in pots need daily watering in this hot weather, assuming all those plastic containers have drainage holes in their bases? If you're unsure, you can usually check just by sticking a finger in the soil and checking for moisture that way, if said finger comes out dry, water is needed, if soil is stuck to finger, then it's moist enough. You will find that some veg needs more water than others, some prefer sun and some like some shade - like lettuce. 

    Hope that helps. Do post again if you've more queries.
  • strelitzia32strelitzia32 Posts: 767
    @herbaceous may well be right, I just compared that to my parsnips and it does look similar. Mystery continued...
  • ForknerForkner Wales, UKPosts: 7
    Thank you all so much for the replies already! I don't know why I didn't do this sooner!

    @strelitzia32 and @Lizzie27Thank you so much for the watering tips. That helps a lot. In terms of some preferring shade and some in the sun, I think my Dad had already found this out judging by the way he has positioned each pot in the garden, which makes more sense now so I'm glad I've not moved them.

    @herbaceous Oh I never considered that they could be parsnips! Thanks for pointing that out because I honestly thought I'd identified all the veg lol!

    Whether they're parsnips or a herb, either way they're looking pretty large now and thought they'd need picking soon whatever they are. Is it true that, with root veg, it's ready to pick if you see the root protruding from the soil?

    Also, @strelitzia32, about the tomato feed... there are bottles of tomato feed in the shed. It's not tomorite brand but feed nonetheless, so I've followed the bottle instructions and applied capfuls into the water as instructed. I didn't realise I could use it on the strawberries as well?? Or is it only certain brands that can be used on other fruits?

    Thank you all again, this is very helpful :).
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 82,269
    If they’re parsnips you don’t harvest them until autumn/winter. 
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • herbaceousherbaceous OxfordshirePosts: 2,313
    As Dove says if they do turn out to be parsnips not until late autumn and they are better after a hard frost.

    They look very healthy whatever they turn out to be,  a credit to your father.
    "The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it."  Sir Terry Pratchett
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 49,148
    Hi @Forkner - I can't add much to what's been said, and it's wonderful that you're doing your best to carry on with the veg your Dad had started.
    Just a not re the tomatoes - you don't feed until the first truss of fruits have set. You'd just be wasting it if you use it before that. They usually don't need many feeds at all once the fruits gets going.  :)
    Tomato food is ideal for all sorts of flowering plants as well. 
    Good luck, and always  come back with photos, if you have problems with anything. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 SomersetPosts: 10,535
    edited June 2020
    @Dovefromabove , If they are parsnips and not coriander (and I'm sure you're right), would they need to be thinned out soon and planted in the ground or in a deeper container?
  • ForknerForkner Wales, UKPosts: 7
    @Lizzie27 Yes this is what I was worried about... It's becoming rather overgrown lol. One or two of the others are as well, especially the carrots.

    @Fairygirl Ok thank you! Good thing that's the case because I hadn't been using the tomato feed for the first few weeks and again was concerned that I should be, so that's good to know!
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