There are certain new gardening skills that all gardeners should know, and some that can make all our lives a whole lot easier.
Learning those skills should be a priority for all gardeners, whether they are new to gardening or want to keep going on their never ending journey to improve their knowledge and practice in their gardens. After all, no matter how long you have been gardening, it never hurts to learn something new.
So here are some gardening skills to prioritise when trying to improve as a gardener that should make it easier for you to meet with success in all of your garden endeavours.
Planning A Garden
Without a doubt, understanding the frameworks that we can use to plan our gardens is on of the most fundamental gardener skills. The more planning and preparation we can do, the less likely it is that things will go wrong.
We should understand how to read our gardens, and what they can tell us about how we should best proceed. And we should learn how to create a gardening calendar, and other planning tools that will help us to remain organised throughout the growing season and over the years.
We should learn about the different approaches we can take and tools we can use to manage our gardens, since these things will factor into our planning. Using water wisely is among the key things to think about as we plan our gardens, for example. And how to make the most of whatever time and space we have available.
Gardening for Your Zone (And Specific Location)
One vital thing to understand as you look into planning a garden is that there are no one-size-fits-all type solutions.
Each decision that you make in the design process and the strategies you decide to adopt along the way should be specific to your own particular garden. What works well in one particular garden in one particular location will not necessarily work as well in another.
One of the most important gardening skills all gardeners must develop is an understanding of their gardening hardiness zone, their climate and microclimate, and all the various idiosyncrasies that make their garden what it is.
Getting to know your own garden better is always something in which it is worth investing your time, whether that just means spending a little more time in the space, or delving a little deeper to discover more about the environment around us.
One of the key gardening skills that it can be important to develop as a gardener trying to get to know your space is an understanding of the soil. Soil, like other things that dictate the environmental conditions in a garden, is something that we can definitely learn a lot about through observation.
For example, we can gain clues about the soil type, pH and drainage properties simply by looking at the soil, touching it, and seeing how it changes throughout the year. And by looking at the plants already growing within the space, and what thrives and what does not.
Weeds and wild plants can often give us clues about the soil in a garden, as well as the plants we or others have chosen to cultivate in the space.
Developing a good understanding of the soil where we live will also help us make sure that we care for and improve that soil correctly over time, through no dig practices, mulching etc… key gardener skills for to develop if you want to do the right thing for people and planet.
Polytunnel Gardening (Extending the Growing Season)
Even if a gardener has been gardening for a long time, they may only grow extensively during the summer months. Gaining the gardening skills needed to start growing in a polytunnel garden can be very useful to those who want to increase their self-sufficiency and resilience, and extend the primary growing season.
With a polytunnel greenhouse garden that has been well designed, and which is well managed, you can potentially grown your own food and other resources all year round.
No matter where, how and what you have chosen to grow in your garden, there are certain gardener skills that are fundamental to your efforts. Composting is one of the core gardening skills that all gardeners should have.
You can compost in place, in a heap or in a bin, in a cold or hot system, with a tumbler, with the aid of special composting worms… exploring and learning about each of these methods is a very useful thing to do.
Learning the best composting methods for your needs and where you live, and learning how to implement the method or methods you have chosen successfully really is key if you want to make sure that your garden won’t just grow strong at first but will truly stand the test of time.
Once many of the fundamentals are in place, starting seeds is a key priority for many gardeners. Whichever seeds you are sowing, however, whether you are sowing indoors or direct sowing where the plants are to grow, you need to make sure that you have the basic seed sowing skills that you need.
Growing plants from seed can often be relatively simple, but you do need to keep the basics of successful germination in mind, and make sure you understand the process and timings for the specific seeds you want to sow.
Of course, we can also delve into division, cuttings, and other methods of plant propagation as we continue on our gardening journeys.
Putting Plants Together – Companion Planting
One key thing to remember, whatever stage or level you might be at as a gardener, is that plants should never really be thought about in isolation. We need to think about plants in the context in which they will grow to be able to match the right plants to the right places.
And we also need to be able to think about combinations – how we can put plants together in groups, or polycultures, to gain benefits without introducing too much competition. Companion planting correctly is one of the more vital gardening skills that all gardeners should be using.
Organic Pest Control (& Wildlife ID)
All gardeners should garden organically. For our own health, for the health of the creatures around us, and for the wellbeing of our planet as a whole it is simply the only choice for any conscientious person. But gardening organically is often misunderstood and, as gardeners, it is important to make sure you understand what we are and are not aiming to do.
Pest control and healthy ecosystems in an organic garden often come back to one important principle – that we should be boosting biodiversity as much as possible. With biodiversity and plenty of plants and wildlife comes a natural balance – a type of stability and resilience that can help us greatly in maintaining the space.
Of course, to boost biodiversity we need to understand and recognise the wildlife we are hoping to attract. So wildlife identification can also be a key gardening skill for all organic gardeners to learn.
Plant Identification (& Weed Recognition)
Gardeners should also work on honing the gardening skills of plant identification. Of course we need to recognise the plants we ourselves are growing. Improving our ability to identify different plants is something we should all keep working on as gardeners.
But we also need to be able to recognise other plants native to our areas – including the various wild plants commonly called ‘weeds’ that we might encounter as we tend our gardens.
Caring For Gardening Tools
You don’t need a huge number of tools to garden successfully, you just need the right tools, and to use them and care for them correctly. Prolonging the life of garden tools by caring for them correctly is the ethical and sustainable choice, and will save you money too.
As a gardener, you should always make sure that you have the skill to use each simple gardening tool well, and also understand how to keep those tools clean and well cared for when they are in use, and when you store them, perhaps over the winter months.
Collecting and Storing Seeds
If you want to make your gardening efforts as sustainable and as affordable as possible then collecting and storing your own seeds to sow the following year can be a great idea.
So gaining the gardening skills to collect the seeds from a range of different crops and other plants, and learning how to store seeds correctly until they can be sown, can be a very good idea.
Keeping Gardening Records
Last but not least, another useful skill for gardeners to acquire is the ability to take good notes, and keep clear and useful gardening records.
By keeping a record of all that we do, what goes well and what does not, we can monitor our progress, see where we might be going wrong more clearly and see our successes too. Learning how to do so properly is a great idea for any gardener.
These are just some of the key gardening skills all gardeners should know, but while the list is not exhaustive, the above is a good place to start.
Do you have any other gardening skills you think it’s important for gardeners to know? Let me know your thoughts!
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.
To get in touch, visit https://ewspconsultancy.com.