Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Garden

Starting a garden is one of the most rewarding things one can do and anyone do it. From creating a cut flower garden, growing your own sustainable veg patch or planting an amazing border display, getting your hands dirty in the garden has so many benefits, but it can be difficult to know where to start.

Here are our 7 easy steps to guide you through the process of starting your own garden!

1. Make a Plan

First things first, what do you want to grow? A vegetable garden? An herb garden? A flower garden? All of the above? All are great choices but have different maintenance requirements. I’d recommend for all beginners to start small until you know what you’re getting into.

2. Pick the Perfect Spot

Your garden location, soil type, amount of sun exposure and access to water will play a big part in what plants you’ll be able to grow. Most plants, vegetables and fruit thrive in sunny spots but if you garden is shaded for most of the day, there are still plenty of plants (Hostas, Heucheras, Grasses) that can thrive in the shade. Go outside and study your outdoor space, learn about your soil type, and then research which plants would be the best fit.

3. Start the Ground Work

Get rid of the top layer covering the area you plan to plant. If you want quick results (e.g., it’s already spring and you want veggies this summer), cut it out. With a spade, cut the ground into sections to make it easier to remove, then put it on your compost pile to decompose. Now, you have your planting area ready to go!

4. Choose Your Plants

Choose your shopping style. Some gardeners like studying plant catalogues to create their shopping list, others head to the garden centre to select their plants, or you can simply shop online. The key planting seasons are Spring and Autumn, so choose your plants according to their planting times. Summer-flowering bulbs/plants should be planted in the Spring (Dahlias, Begonias, Roses) and Spring-flowering bulbs/plants should be planted in the Autumn (Tulips, Daffodils, Crocus).

5. Hydration is Key

Close care and attention is essential for young plants. Once plants establish a strong root system in the ground (usually a few weeks after planting), they tend to be less needy. After that, how often you need to water depends on your soil, humidity, and rainfall; although once a week is a good place to start.

6. Mulch for Protection

Mulching is life-saving for gardeners. Mulching your plants helps them retain moisture and keep weeds at bay. Cover the soil with a couple of inches of mulch after planting and you won’t have to water as often. Also, by preventing sunlight from hitting the soil, you’ll prevent weeds from forming in your soil.

  • For annuals: Choose a mulch that decomposes in a few months.
  • For perennials: Use a longer-lasting mulch such as bark chips.

7. Care, Grow and Enjoy!

Now that all the planting is done, now is the time to care for your garden and watch it grow.

Don’t forget to keep up with common garden jobs such as:

  • Watering plants regularly. 
  • Pull out any weeds.
  • Prune dead blooms, or leggy growth on plants/shrubs.
  • Remove garden pests (e.g. Aphids) by picking them off the plant, hosing them off with water, or spraying on an insecticidal soap.
  • Support tall plants (e.g., tomatoes) with a trellis, stake or pergola.

Community Garden Competition – WIN £100 WORTH OF BULBS

Are you a part of a local community garden? If so, we want to donate!

Whether it’s a tiny wildlife garden, fruit and vegetable plot on a housing estate, or a school garden, tell us how your community garden benefits your local area and we’ll choose three gardens to donate a selection of bulbs/plants to. The prizes will consist of a specially selected range of J.Parker’s plants and bulbs that we will hand pick to compliment your community garden’s theme.

WHAT CAN I WIN?

There will be 3 prizes for our top 3 favourite community gardens.

1st Prize – £100 worth of bulbs

2nd Prize – £50 worth of bulbs

3rd Prize – £30 worth of bulbs

COMPETITION DETAILS:

Simply answer this question (in 250 words or less):

How does your garden benefit the local community and how would a donation help it thrive?

HOW TO ENTER:

Send us in your entries by MARCH 2ND 2020

Enter via email at:

competition@jparkers.co.uk (please keep your entries under 5mb to ensure we receive them)

or enter via social media:

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

RULES OF ENTRY:

  • We will view all entries and any which meet the criteria outlined below will be considered for the prize of a donation of J. Parker’s products to go towards the local projects.
  • Three winning entries will receive a donation of bulbs or plants from J. Parker’s for use in their community project.
  • Entries should be under 250 words. Images can be used so long as your entry email is less than 5mb in size.
  • Send your entries by email to competition@jparkers.co.uk (please keep your entries under 5mb to ensure we receive them) or entry via social media.
  • Entrants agree that their names and stories may be published publicly with their entry. No other details will be shared with any third parties.
  • Entrants agree that, should they be successful, their story and their project may be used in future for coverage on our blog and social channels.
  • All entries using photographs or drawings must be original images, taken/produced by the entrant. You must own all rights to the image and in entering the competition you agree to allow us to use your image in further promotions, on our blog, on social media or in print.
  • The following criteria will be used to judge entries;
  • How the idea will benefit local communities and environments.
  • The originality of the idea and anything that sets it apart from other entrants.
  • The winners will receive a donation of J. Parker’s products with a value of up to £100 subject to available stock. This will be made up of products of our choosing based on the project described in the entry, cannot be exchanged for cash and there is no substitution for this prize. This donation of products can only be used for the purpose outlined in your entry.
  • All entries will be considered. Competition closes 2nd March 2020.
  • Winners will be notified by email before the 11th March 2020.

GOOD LUCK EVERYONE!

How to Plant Tulips: Red Riding Hood Tulips

Looking to add a vibrant splash of character to your spring garden displays?

This Greigii Tulip has strikingly beautiful, oriental scarlet flowers. It is highly compact, growing to a height of only 20-30cm, and flowers in spring between March/April. The inner petals are brighter, with a dark base and flecks of yellow in the centre. The spectacular, grey-green mottled purple foliage is a highlight of these tulips. These tulips are easy to grow, and create a warm welcoming addition to garden beds, borders, containers, rock gardens and make stunning cut flowers too. These Red Riding Hood tulips are excellent alongside contrasting tulips of a similar style, such as Albion Star, or beside your other red varieties.

Tulip Red Riding Hood (Greigii)

Planting (including Tutorial)

Our Red Riding Hood bulbs come in packs of 15 and 60 and are supplied as 10cm+ bulbs. We recommend you plant around 8 to 10cm deep and approximately 15cm apart in well drained, fertile soil, and in a sunny or partially shaded location in the autumn from September to December.

In this simple how-to video tutorial, our resident gardener Jeff shows you how to plant our Red Riding Hood tulips, specifically in pots, with tips and tricks for getting the best results out of your bulbs.

Aftercare

Red Riding Hood tulips are fairly low maintenance plants for aftercare as they do not require pruning. After the tulips have bloomed and the leaves fade and turn brown, the bulbs can be lifted, dried, cleaned and stored in a cool place until planting time. Tulips should not be grown in the same soil for several years, so replace with fresh soil every other year.

Grow Your Own: Potatoes

Solanum tuberosum 'Maris Piper' in wooden trug
Solanum tuberosum ‘Maris Piper’

 

Whether in an allotment or your own garden there is an undeniable joy in growing your own produce – and where better to start than with a classic staple – the potato! One of the most versatile vegetables, potatoes feature in the most traditional and creative dishes and can be a great addition to a healthy diet plan.

 

The potato is healthy – FACT!

  • Potato skins are a great source of fibre and potassium.
  • Salt free
  • Low in sugar
  • Potatoes are naturally saturated fat free (You can even find machines these days that will fry them into chips using as little oil as possible! Not that that makes them healthy!)

Potatoes are gluten free – great news for coeliacs!

Woman harvesting salad potatoes 'Bambino' grown in patio planter bag
Harvesting salad potatoes ‘Bambino’ grown in patio planter bag

Coeliac disease can be difficult to cater for, gluten free products are getting more varied (and tasting better) than a few years ago but they are often very expensive. The humble potato is cheap and gluten free.

You can grow potatoes in the smallest of spaces! If you have a smaller garden or simply want to keep your potato gardening organised try using grow bags. Our 40 litre Patio Potato Sacks will grow 5-7 seeds per sack. Find out how to grow potatoes in sacks here!

(See here how you can use the Patio Sacks to grow Asparagus or Rhubarb!)

 

SO …. now we’ve established potatoes are the best (!) we need to help you choose the right potato for you – because there are a lot of options!

Potato Varieties

  1. Salad Potatoes (harvest June –September)

Potato Charlotte

 

Charlotte are a favourite of all chefs, very useful for more than salads. A long oval shape, with a beautiful floury taste. Pink Fir Apple are a more traditional variety, suitable for boiling, baking or steaming. They are long knobbly in shape, with pink skin and a creamy coloured flesh.

Salad potatoes ‘Maris Peer’ in trug

 

2. Second Early Harvest (June-July)

They take a little longer to harvest than the first Early varieties – from late June. Bonnie is a very popular all-rounder. Maris Peer has a firm white variety with a high yield. The award winning Kestrel is very smooth in texture with purple eyes. Great old fashioned variety.

 

Solanum tuberosum ‘King Edward’ – Potatoes

3. Main Crop Varieties (harvest August-October)

These take the longest to harvest and take up slightly more space in the growing patch. King Edward and Maris Piper are well known all round favourites, while Cara is a heavy cropping variety with the added bonus of being very drought/disease resistant. Desiree is the best of all the red main crop varieties, ideal to boil, mash, chip or sauté.

 

Click HERE to view our full range of Potatoes!

Win £100 worth of vouchers

Winner

 

We were so thrilled with the response to last year’s Daffodil Photography Competition, that we are offering a second chance to win a £100 voucher to spend on J. Parker’s products.

Your image can be of any spring flowering bulb, so long as it’s your own original image of a variety purchased from us. Examples include Daffodils, Tulips, Hyacinth, Iris, Muscari and many more. Any J. Parker bulb in flower in your garden before 14th June 2016.

To enter, you can share your image on our Facebook page, follow and tweet us @JParkersBulbs or e-mail it to us (along with your post code) to the address competition@jparkers.co.uk
All entries will be considered, and you can enter as many times as you wish. Competition closes 14th June 2016 and winners will be notified by e-mail before 26th June 2016.

To view some of last year’s entrants, please click here..

1. To enter the competition, please use one of three methods;

A) Share your image on our J. Parker’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/jparkers.co.uk),
B) Tweet your image to @Jparkersbulbs on Twitter
C) E-mail your entry under 5mb to us at competition@jparkers.co.uk

2. We will view all entries and any which meet the criteria outlined below will be considered for the prize of £100 worth of J. Parker’s vouchers.

3. All entries must be original images, taken by the entrant, of Bulbs in flower purchased from J. Parker’s in the past. You must own all rights to the image and in entering the competition you agree to allow us to use your image in further promotions, on social media or in print.

4. Entrants also agree that their names may be published with their entry. No other details will be shared with any third parties.

5. The winning entry will be judged on both the quality of the plant and the image. The Judge’s decision is final.

6. All varieties of Daffodils and Narcissi will be considered, but only those purchased from J. Parker’s will qualify for the competition prizes.

7. The winner will receive a £100 voucher to spend on any products currently offered by J. Parker’s. This cannot be exchanged for cash and there is no substitution for this prize.

Gardening Jobs for April

Get set for summer
Now would be a great time to think about your summer garden. There’s still a few months left of spring but it won’t be long until the weather improves, in theory. Add some seating areas and get your summer garden furniture now and you’ll be immediately prepared to take advantage of any sunshine we get.
Summer Bulbs

You can start planting summer-flowering bulbs out from mid-April. The winter
months are over and we can expect far less harsh conditions for your plants. Keep an eye on the weather however as frost is always a possibility. If the weather forecast looks chilly, keep your bulbs inside until it perks up a bit. Shrubs and spring flowering bulbs will appreciate a bit of feeding at this time of year in preparation for the growing season.

Control Pests
The first green shoots of new growth are very susceptible to damage from slugs and snails. Container grown plants can be protected by copper rings around pots. Slug pellet application is always effective however a gravel barrier/border can also be a natural deterrent. Weeds will also become an increasing problem with the weather improvements so keep those under control.
Tidy up
The weather will begin to improve and provide a suitable climate for preparations for summer flowering bulbs and the ideal platform for tidying up your borders/shrubs after the long winter. Deadhead spring bedding plants and remove tired winter bedding. Prune shrubs and hedges now before the birds begin to nest to encourage healthy new growth. All deciduous shrubs need pruning as soon as they have flowered. Often the most leggy and untidy shrubs can be pruned hard now to create a much neater and compact specimen.
Treat the Lawn
April is the most important month when caring for your Lawn. Your lawn will need cutting approximately twice a week by mid-April. Think about sowing new lawns or repairing any bare patches. Applying feed at the start of the month will be beneficial for stronger growth. In a mild period, apply feed evenly and economically. Use a wheeled distributor if possible. Now is also the perfect time to apply weed killer to your lawn.
Get your trellis prepared for climbing plants
Now is the time to put up trellis in preparation for your existing or planned climbing plants. Soon your Clematis or Honeysuckle will burst into life and demand climbing assistance.

Click here to view our full jobs list for February!