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I've recently moved into a new home with a relatively large garden. I am primarily interested in growing vegetables, however I'd love to grow a few flowers too (lilies, roses, sweet peas etc.). However, I am a complete beginner to gardening, being 17 and never having had a garden in which I could practice with my parent.

My garden is well equipped:

There are four raised beds. However, they become overgrown with weeds during summer, and I would love to get rid of these ASAP, and prepare them for the year ahead. I was hoping to dedicate 2-3 to edible plants, and the other 1-2 to flowers.

I have a greenhouse (with one pane missing). The greenhouse was previously used to house chickens, so the soil in here is well fertilised. The greenhouse is completely empty aside from a shelf. Is there anything I need/should buy to go in here?

I also have room for potted plants (possibly flowers or strawberries?) at the top of the garden which I'd love to utilise also. I'm interested in growing lilies, which I understand are grown in pots...

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and I would be immensely grateful for any advice you can offer.



  • PerkiPerki Posts: 2,490

    Hi, plan on what veg you like and want to grow. Weed your raised beds and give them a good mulch. 

    It might be an idea to test your soil PH before planting anything, Roses for example prefer acidic soil ( ericaceous soil ) which you can buy from garden centres etc.

    I sow sweet peas in pots first week in March , but some people to sow them earlier.

    Lily dont have to be grown in pots, but it is easier. They require lots of drainage cause the bulbs tend to rot but never let them dry out.

    You need to replace the missing pane in your greenhouse, if the wind get in it could blow it out. What are you going to use the greenhouse for? grow tomatoes / cucumbers ? Is they a path down the middle? Do you want any staging inside?  I done half and half one side soil border for my tomatoes etc. And the other side staging for my annual bedding plants and other things.

    If you have any more questions, there is plenty of people on the forum who can give you some great advice/tips just ask away

  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,854

    Hi Thomas, Welcome to the wonderful world of gardening. 

    I'd make a list of what you want to grow and decide how much time you have to spend on the garden, not now in chilly January, but think of the summer too when you might want to be doing other things

    It's very easy to get over excited at that start and get too many projects under way  which you might not have time to complete, which can be disheartening.

    Start small and you'll keep on top of it.


  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 87,819

    Hi Thomas and welcome image

    The first thing I'd say is with vegetables, grow things you like to eat - it may be obvious but you'd be surprised how many people I've known who grow swedes or spinach for example, but hate the stuff. image

    If you like beans, dwarf french beans are ideal for growing in raised beds - you sow them in April/May time.  They're pretty straightforward to grow and will give you a good crop quite quickly, so they're encouraging for new gardeners image

    Runner beans are more tender (that means they will die if they get frosted) so you plant them out in late May/early June depending on whereabouts in the country you are and when you get your last frost.  However, you can start them off in pots in your greenhouse where they'll be protected from frost.  Runner beans need to climb so you'll need some tall bamboo canes (6-7ft) or similar to build a frame for them to climb up - the simplest way is to build a wigwam tied at the top and then plant two beans or bean plants at the bottom of each cane.

    Do you like salads?  If so some lettuces would be easy to grow (but you will have to keep an eye out for slugs as they like them too).  I don't like to use slug pellets in my garden because they harm wildlife so I trap the slugs in yoghurt pots of beer - they die happy! image

    If  there's someone in your household who likes cooking, you'll be very popular if you grow some herbs - chives, mint, parsley, thyme are all good to start with and can be bought quite cheaply as small plants from the garden centre in the spring.

    As for the flowers - are you wanting flowers to pick for the house?  

    And as for roses, with the greatest respect to Perki I have to disagree about the soil - you don't need to buy ericaceous compost in for them, they're perfectly happy in most garden soils in the UK.

    However there are some plants that do need acidic soil -  eg rhododendrons - so if you're buying plants it's best to check the label carefully or ask someone who knows.

    At this time of year I would weed your raised beds and dig some well-rotted farmyard manure into the soil - you can buy it in bags from the garden centre.

    Another useful thing to do now would be to get some pallets and make a couple of compost bins  That way you can turn garden and kitchen veg waste into compost and in the future you can use that to improve your soil rather than having to buy so much compost and manure in.

    And yes, now's the time to get your greenhouse repaired and shipshape - I don't have a greenhouse in this garden, so I'll leave that for others to tell you about.

    And one more thing - start to encourage birds into your garden - they're the gardener's friends and will help you to get rid of the slugs and aphids that can attack your plants - so hang up some peanuts and birdseed for them now and they'll start to regard your garden as their territory and a place where they can find food and in the summer they'll come and eat the aphids for you image

    Do feel free to come and ask us questions - we like to help and nothing is too simple or straightforward - the only daft question is the one you didn't ask.

    Good luck image

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,739

    Hi Thomas. I can't add much to what's already been said other than just keeping things tidy until you see what's already in the garden and concentrate on the projects you want to get underway first - like your greenhouse and veg. It's a gradual process if you've not had a garden before and it's easier to take it a bit at a time till you find your feet so that you don't get daunted by it all.

    If you can take some photos and put them on that will help with any suggestions that people can offer. The little tree icon in the toolbar will show you what to do. Once the growing season really gets under way you can post pix of anything you want identified and we can try to help. Then you can decide if you want to keep it, move it or bin it!   image

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Hi Thomas - how nice to have some young blood on the board. A lot of us on here are definitely the wrong side of the hill, but even we are still learning, so don't be worried about asking about things. 

    As Dove has said compost is really useful stuff. Those weeds have taken food from the soil to grow, so if you throw them out you will need to replace it or the soil will be less fertile. If making a bin seems too much, with everything else you're taking on, you can buy plastic compost bins which will at least get you started.

    The nice thing about raised beds is you can do them one at a time. Think about what you would like to grow. If it is from seed, like most veg and sweet peas, find out when it needs to be planted. It is usually best to keep groups of veg plants ( beans and peas, cabbage family  etc) together in the garden, as they use up different nutrients and may suffer from disease. The idea is to move them round each year so as to minimise the effects. You won't have to do this (crop rotation) this year but bear it in mind when planning what to plant where. Once you've got when and where sorted (you'll also have to know how high things grow!), you can make a start on getting the beds ready and get the seeds planted on time.

    We've given you an awful lot to think about all at once, but don't worry. Plants are generally predisposed to grow if it is at all possible, so some things will succeed for you even if not all do, and none of our gardens are perfect , honest! There's no cure for the gardening bug and things can only get better - good luck!

  • LynLyn Posts: 23,190

    Some very good advise above, I cant add much to that, I started my garden from scratch in 2012, its amazing how it takes off with some time and effort.

    It doesnt need to be expensive, the most money I spent is on seed and potting compost. Everything else is cuttings, seeds, bare root plant etc, usually scrounged or swapped. Have a look at the vegetable or seed swap threads on here.

    I really must say that for a 17 year old you are doing remarkably well, your post is very well written, I have seen some terrible posts on forums, spelling, etc. So well done you and I hope you make a success of your project.

    Ask any questions as you go along and as they crop up. Please keep us posted, we love new ventures and if you can add some before and after piccys, so much the better.


    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 8,327
    Hi Thomas & welcome to the forum.

    Some good advice above. I would definitely use the next few weeks to clear your beds of weeds and improve the soil as suggested and repair the greenhouse. I would also give the glass a good clean.

    If you think you would like to use the greenhouse for starting off seeds etc you will probably want some form of staging (work benches) in there. This is often 2 tier so you have a top bench for working and trays with a shelf underneath for storage. You will also need things like seed trays, watering can, plant labels. Ebay might be your friend here.... Come back to us with specific questions if you are not sure what to get.

    You will also need some tools for digging over and maintaining your garden - probably a small hand fork, a larger border fork and a pair of secateurs to start you off - hope you have a birthday coming up!

    Regarding the veg I would definitely second the advice to only grow what you like to eat and would add 'and what is expensive or difficult to buy'.

    Herbs are ridiculously expensive in supermarkets so if you will use them they are a great start & fairly easy. Thyme & rosemary are good with meat, coriander is a must if you like indian or asian food, and chives and parsley are good all rounders.

    If you like peas I would try some - you can't buy really fresh peas. Bags of salad leaves are expensive so a selection of those would be good.

    It's a bit difficult to be more specific without knowing how much growing space you have and how much time you can devote to it - especially in the summer when it will all need watering.

    So, have a think about what you can beg, borrow or buy equipment wise and what you want to grow. Have a tidy and clean up (garden - not you!) and come back to talk to us some more.

    Gardening is great fun - you'll have some failures but we have ALL been there - and the satisfaction of your first harvest is just great.
    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 8,327

    Just to add - if you want to grow Lillies it might be worth downloading Friday's Great Allotment Challenge (iPlayer).

    The second section was about growing lillies. You might pick up a few growing tips as well as what not to do - also ideas for varieties. You will also see the lilly beetle so you know what to squash in summer......image

    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • Again some great advice, as a relatively newbie to gardening the things I've found really useful are:

    • pencil & squared paper, measure your garden & use the paper to plan, plot & dream. 
    • Use forums, Pinterest, gardening magazines to get ideas of what you like, make lists & a scrap book
    • start a journal so you can look back & learn from your successes & otherwise
    • dont be put off by complicated expert advice, just give things a go & learn along the way. My greatest successes last year were as a result of trial & error
    • lastly, enjoy it, be mindful & joyful, i can't tell you what pleasure I've got from gardening, I hope you will to! Best of luck!! ????
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