Gardening Is Full Of People With Complex & Difficult Gardening Tips & Methods. But It Needn’t Be Like That. Gardening Can Be Simple. It Can Be Easy. People Make It Hard. In This Post You Can See My Very Simple Gardening Tips & Ideas.

In this post I’m going to dhow you my Very Simple Gardening Tips. They are the tips, tips, tricks and ideas that enabled me to make a living as a market gardener over a couple of decades. Where necessary I’ve modified them slightly so they work on a garden scale. They are the methods I now use in my small garden.

Frequently I see gardeners saying we need to rest the land, rotate crop, feed plants and many other things. These ideas are even pushed by some TV gardeners (usually the sort that have a team of gardeners doing all the work and only get their hands dirty when in front of the camera).

The thing is gardening is full of myths being pushed by non gardeners, advertisers and others. The reality is different.

Very Simple Gardening Tip 1: Feed the Soil, Not The Plant.

In nature plants grow naturally. Certainly they compete with only the fittest surviving, but they don’t rely on the soil being dug, rested or on being fed with artificial fertilisers or even smelly compost teas.

Simple Gardening Tip; roots still grow in cold weather.

In nature there are no times when the soil is rested between crops or fertiliser added. What happens is that the soil has plants growing in it at all times. On occasion these plants will be dormant or growing very slowly. But there is activity there, though sometimes it is underground where roots are growing and spreading and the bacteria and fungi in the rhizosphere are working.

So here’s tip number one, its in two parts.

Don’t dig, add compost to feed the soil instead. At the same time ensure you have a crop on the land at all times, even if you decide to grow a green manure, this is vital to keep the soil fauna bacteria and fungi alive.

Very Simple Gardening Tip 2: Recycle Materials & Equipment

For example if you want to cover crops with fleece and decide to build a small tunnel, use recycled materials.

The small plant cover type tunnels are only a few feet high and can be made of recycled plastic or gas pipe bent into a semi-circle and covered with fleece. They work every well to keep the butterflies off of brassicas and cold winds off of delicate crops.

But how can you secure the fleece? Here’s a tip I’ve used for years.

Run some half round plastic guttering around the base of the mini tunnel. Drape the fleece over the guttering and secure with some water filled plastic drinks bottles. You can pull the fleece tight and the water bottles will hold it in place.

Very Simple Gardening Tip 3: How To Tighten Tunnel Liners

Tunnel liners are the plastic sheets that polytunnels are covered with. To ensure the liner lasts as long as possible they need to be “drum tight” on the tunnel framework. If they flap in the wind they abrade and eventually split.

Here are two methods to get the liner very tight.

Both rely on the tunnel liner being draped over the structure on a hot still day before being tightened. This way the polythene warms up and will stretch to shape much better.

Very Simple Gardening Tip: Trencihng a tunnel liner
Trenching a tunnel liner

Method one is the burying technique. It’s the one I relied on on my market garden and works on all size tunnels.

Dig a narrow trench around the base of the tunnel. Drape the surplus sheet end into the trench so that it protrudes beyond the trench. Now gently back fill with some soil so that the plastic sheet comes over the structure, into the trench and out the other side.  Now gently pull the loose sheet end upwards whilst using the soil to hold it in place. It’s easier if you lift the end of the sheet that protrudes out of the trench and push the soil back down against your pull with your boot. Repeat all the way around the tunnel. Once tight all the way around the tunnel add more backfill until everything is secure .

The second method is where you run a batten around the frame at, or a short distance above, soil level. Using a long piece of 2×1 inch timber wrap the polythene around the timber, pull tight and secure it to the batten with screws.

The second method requires a narrower polytunnel liner. So could save you a bit of money.

PS. When building tunnels from scratch always construct them bearing in mind the standard size of polytunnel sheets. If your tunnel is constructed an inch too big you might have to go to the next standard size sheet and that can cost a fortune!

Very Simple Gardening Tip 4: How to Sterilise Soil

Small quantities of soil can be sterilised in a microwave and are ideal for many gardening purposes.

Sterilised soil ready to make seedling compost

Start by making some simple loam. The best way is to stack some old turf, grass side down, and leave until the grass has decomposed. Now sieve it to remove any lumps and larger debris. Put it in a microwave proof container and zap it until it steams (ensure it is damp when doing this). Once the temperature reaches a minimum of 70-75C let it cool and it’s ready to use.

Top Tip. The centre of the soil often heats up first and the outside may fail to reach the temperature. So check the temperature in the centre and at the periphery of the container. Zap it again if need be.

Very Simple Gardening Tip 5: How To Make Potting and Seedling Compost

If you have the sterilised soil from above mix it approx 50:50 with good well rotted farmyard manure. It should be weed free it it has been well made. So there should be no fear of weeds, pest or diseases. But if in doubt water a small quantity in a container and leave it for a few weeks in a warm place. Check that nothing has germinated. If it is full of weeds, don’t use it in this mix!

Sterilised soil ready to make seedling compost

A good 50:50 mix is both free draining and moisture retentive. It’s what I use in modules for seed sowing and it works well for me. But you may need to experiment with the mix to get the percentages that suit you best. Id add a bit more of the wet rotted manure for plants that need more moisture and less for those tha front like too much moisture.

The above two tips is a great way to create a low cost seedling and potting compost that works really well for all the seeds and plants I sow and grow.

Very Simple Gardening Tip 6: Protecting Freshly Sown Seed

Freshly sown seed can suffer from the local cats seeing freshly turned soil as being their toilet, to drying out in warm sunny weather.

Covering the area with some reclaimed galvanised wire netting keeps cats at bay, as does scattering the area with bushy twigs.

A great way to prevent soil drying out is to lay a plank over the rows of seeds. But check for germination and remove as soon as they break through the soil.

In the photo I’ve covered freshly sown leek seed with recycled guttering. This will keep the cats at bay and protect the seeds from drying out.

More Very Simple Gardening Tips

I’m going to be adding a lot more Very Simple Gardening Tips over the next months.

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2 thoughts on “Very Simple Gardening Ideas, Tips & Tricks

  1. Angela says:

    Excellent advice in your introduction post.

    1. Stefan Drew says:

      My pleasure. There’s more to follow.

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