How to grow a better garden

Grow your skills as well as your garden, with helpful advice from a green-thumbed horticulturist.

Written by Angie Thomas

Autumn is a magnificent time to be out in the garden. Working up a sweat in the late afternoon sun, planning and preparing new patches ahead of spring and crunching leaves underfoot.

Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned pro, Angie Thomas, expert horticulturist from Yates, has something to inspire you this golden season.

Why do you think some people love gardening and some people loathe it?

I think some people loathe gardening because they perhaps have tried in the past and felt they failed. This can be disheartening! It's often because they have not been given the correct (or any) knowledge or guidance to know what to do. By following some simple guidelines, gardening can really be quite easy. As for the lovers of gardening, there is something so satisfying about nurturing plants, seeing their gorgeous displays of flowers and enjoying basketfuls of your own home grown produce.

With autumn upon us, what should we focus on in the garden?

Air temperatures are milder but the soil is still warm enough for plants to grow, so it's a perfect time to plant new trees and shrubs, prepare garden beds for planting spring flowering bulbs like hyacinths and daffodils and enrich the soil in the vegie and herb patch with organic fertilisers like Yates Dynamic Lifter before the cool weather vegies go in.

Where do you get your gardening advice and inspiration from?

I love talking to other gardeners, hearing about what they grow in their gardens and the tips and tricks they have learnt over the years. I also read lots of gardening magazines, books and websites, which not only provide good horticultural information but also have photos of gorgeous gardens. I can then borrow their ideas for use at our place.

What can food can anyone grow no matter their gardening skills or where they live?

For a beginner gardener with limited space such as balcony, a simple pot of tasty mixed herbs and veggies is a great place to start. Baby spinach, Asian leafy greens and spring onions are all perfect for growing in containers in autumn and it's simple to start – fill a pot with good quality potting mix, scatter seeds over the surface, cover lightly with a bit more potting mix and then water.

"For a beginner gardener with limited space such as balcony, a simple pot of tasty mixed herbs and veggies is a great place to start."

What can people do to improve their gardening skills, whether they're a beginner or advanced?

Beginner gardeners

Seed packets and plant tags contain really helpful information. They tell you what type of spot the plant likes to grow in (sun or shade), how deep to sow seeds and how big the plant will grow.

Plants need regular watering to grow well, particularly plants in containers, which dry out much more quickly than in-ground plants. Feeding plants is also a very important step. Poor plant health is often due to lack of nutrients, but it's so easy to fix! Choose a fertiliser that says 'all purpose', like Yates Thrive All Purpose Liquid Plant Food, and give plants a feed each week.

Intermediate gardeners

Joining a local garden club is a great idea. You can learn from other interested gardeners and garden clubs often have guest speakers who come and share their knowledge. There are also evening gardening classes and online horticulture courses that are packed with interesting information.

As an intermediate gardener, it also could be time to expand the type of plants you are growing – step out of your comfort zone and try something new. And of course reading, reading, reading! Local libraries, gardening websites and magazines contain a wealth of gardening information.

Experienced gardeners

Visiting lots of garden centres, botanic gardens and parks and studying the plants is always a great way to get inspiration and new information. And why not try a new gardening skill such as grafting or topiary? The key is to find an element of gardening that you love, whether it's growing your own food, attracting birds into the garden, having an immaculate lawn or having the best roses in the street, and then research, experiment and above all, have fun.

For more greenthumb tips and tricks, head to yates.com.au

Written by Angie Thomas

Angie Thomas is a horticulturalist from Yates.

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