There is a level zero for every garden skill,
but most books don’t start there. Here are a few basic rules to help.
RULE 1: One new veg at a time
VEGETABLE FAMILIES mostly share what they like and don’t like, so learning one level zero choice at a time is the most achievable. My recommendation is choose just one new veg per month (or even one per season) that provides good value, that your family loves and will eat even in a glut, and is suited to your climate. Along with some easy herbs, flowers, and asparagus or rhubarb, it is enough commitment. It will also teach you other essential skills. More on that later.
RULE 2: Organics is the answer
SOIL HEALTH in the books involves a lot of testing, tweaking, turning and frankly.. tension if you are new to all this. Avoid it all by just focusing on organics (plant matter) instead. Lots of it in the soil all the time will give you a rich enough, open enough, healthy enough soil to plant almost anything, year after year. You can get fancy later, but so long as you are TRENCHING every bed every season, you have enough food to keep veg and worms in the bed very happy.
RULE 3: Seeds or seedlings? Best to follow advice.
PLANTING has many methods, but many are not Level Zero. Seed-raising, seed-saving, cuttings, division.. all might be in your future, but the humble seed packet or good old punnet with a few strong little beauties is where you start. There are a few veg that must be grown from seed, but they are the minority, and we will let you know as we go.Best thing is to follow the Level Zero veg guides. If you are supermen to learn more, then check out this story We will learn those other skills by growing herbs, bulbs and flowers that are all useful but not essential. One skill at a time.
RULE 4: Simple tools
TOOLS are cool, but you don’t need near so many as you think. A square head spade, a small rake, a trowel, garden knife, dibber and boots. That’s it. Any more is for later, or…just ’cause you just want to. I add sturdy scissors and a brush for harvest and clean–up. The oscillating hoe is my only tool for weeding, mainly because I’m not keen to be on my knees anymore. We will learn how to use each properly.
RULE 5: Don’t rush
The best advice I ever got was from my Gran, Nancy – “You can have it all, my dear.. just not all at the same time. There is a season for everything.”
Most folks who try gardening in a rush spend lots, go hard, crash and burn. Let’s do this so it sticks. Slow. There is no rush.
It also pays to remember the time it takes to harvest and most gardens will have a summer and a winter harvest, which in our Level Zero project, we space out to focus on one veg at a time. Here are some examples:
> Plant in August, harvest in December, then replant in January and harvest in May.
Once you have achieved success, you can branch out into more vegetable types, managing the soil, and all sorts of challenges and details that an abundance of great mainstream gardening books and websites offer.
Look wide; grow well, folks 🌿