Help me learn to garden. Difficulty level: Scotland
February 8, 2014 3:02 PM   Subscribe

I have a new house with a lot of garden space (~60sq m), and I have no idea what I'm doing. I need guidance starting pretty much from the beginning, but a lot of the recommended books I've seen are for the US and not the UK.

I'm assuming some UK books are less relevant again for not-so-sunny Edinburgh, but I don't really know because I have no idea what I'm doing. Do you know of a book/tv programme/YouTube series that will help me? I'm interested in growing vegetables, as well as proper flowers and maybe even some trees.
posted by ukdanae to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
local WI will be helpful.
posted by parmanparman at 3:11 PM on February 8, 2014

Gardener's World (when it's back on the telly) is worth recording so that you can skip straight to the vegetables. Monty Don has a particularly no-nonsense style when it comes to growing veg.

Joy Larkcom's Grow Your Own Vegetables is a classic for good reason.
The RHS books are also generally full of excellent (and thoroughly tested) advice.

By the way, a few raised beds and a small greenhouse will go a long way towards compensating for Edinburgh's climate. A greenhouse will get your growing season started as early as possible, and raised beds have lots of advantages, including warming up quicker and not being as susceptible to frost. Find your nearest scaffolding company and ask them if you can buy some of their old boards - cheapest way to make raised beds - although you will need to replace them every few years.
posted by pipeski at 3:26 PM on February 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Historic Scottish Gardens is a good place to start.
posted by Ideefixe at 3:31 PM on February 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

It's not on at the moment, but The Beechgrove Garden is a TV programme made in (and dedicated to gardening in) Scotland, so keep an eye out for it when it comes back on.
posted by penguin pie at 3:49 PM on February 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

BBC Scotland has its own gardening programme, The Beechgrove Garden, that has been running for 35 years; it has a dedicated website with downloadable factsheets.

Gardeners' Question Time now makes its episodes available for streaming or via a podcast feed, and each episode has a summary/transcript, so you could pick out the Scottish ones (example) from that.
posted by holgate at 3:50 PM on February 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

This might or might not be your thing, but the concept of "forest gardening" (designing relatively self-maintaining ecosystems of perennial edible plants modeled on a natural forest) was born in the UK.
posted by contraption at 4:02 PM on February 8, 2014 [4 favorites]

This book might help. Try looking at the square foot gardening concept, is easy and will work fine there for vegetables.
posted by OneSmartMonkey at 11:16 PM on February 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Alys Fowler who writes in the Guardian is good. She was on Gardeners' World and has had her own shows, including one about forest gardening.

Local newspapers sometimes have gardening columns, which can be good to find out about gardening your local climate. But it depends in the quality of the writer.

(I'm glad to find out I'm not the only one who fast forwards through the boring bits about flowers on GW!)
posted by Helga-woo at 11:56 PM on February 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

As a solid reference book, try the RHS's Encyclopedia of Gardening. It's an excellent primer for the fundamentals and basic skill sets ('how do i know what to plant where?' 'How does pruning work?!' Etc) most of which are the same whether you're in the Hebrides or jersey.
posted by AFII at 1:38 AM on February 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Why don't you pop down to your local library? Most of them have good gardening sections, and while there may be odd books which are not relevant, they have been bought by Edinburgh librarians for an Edinburgh audience.

(And as for the sunshine, the East Coast of Scotland is the sunniest part of the country, which offsets the latitude and gives us the same amount of sunshine as the UK average)
posted by Coobeastie at 2:34 AM on February 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

The difficulty level in the UK is actually much lower, because there's essentially only one climate, and any gardening book available in the UK will work fine in Edinburgh (which has higher winter temperatures than Birmingham). If you want ideas and inspiration, then popping down the newsagent to get a copy of Gardener's World magazine will have seasonal inspiration and plans to work with, in conjunction with an encyclopedia.
posted by ambrosen at 10:24 AM on February 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Or, you could pop down to the nearest allotments and ask someone with a really well-cultivated one for some basic tips. Allotment culture tends to be quite good on sharing knowledge.
posted by glasseyes at 10:56 AM on February 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

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