Gardening is an easy and enjoyable pastime that you can do alone or with members of your household, and growing your own fruits and vegetables also lets you avoid those busy supermarkets at the same time.
Instead of sitting in front of the TV, why not get out in the fresh air, learn a new skill and improve your mental and physical health, all while growing food for your friends or family!
YouTuber Tony Smith recently shared some of his green fingered wisdom with Yahoo UK, telling us everything we need to know on how to get started in the garden.
Tony covered a range of topics including how to plant potatoes in a no-dig garden, grow black tomatoes, and why something as simple as a piece of copper can keep those pesky slugs from devouring your cabbages.
Tony says: “We are living in really strange times, this pandemic has affected us all in so many different ways and gardening has seen a resurgence.”
“There are a lot of people who can’t go to work but can get in their gardens, they can put food on the table when it’s scarce because of COVID.”
“Planting food from seeds to put on your plate, there’s nothing better than that.”
Tony shows us around his breathtaking allotment in the North East of England by the coast, and explains how following a few simple steps can help you get the garden of your dreams.
He explains how five years ago he started making videos to show his mother how things were getting along in the allotment.
His mother is too old to work in the garden so he wanted to make sure she was up to date on its progress, and turns out so did his viewers, thus his YouTube channel was born.
Each episode focuses on a different kind of growing in the allotment, using no-dig raised beds, a polytunnel and protecting your plants from weeds and insects.
Tony says: “It makes you feel a lot better than when you came. You leave feeling like you’ve achieved something. All the pressures, the worries of the day are just lifted.”
As if Tony wasn’t giving us enough garden envy, he gives us a guided tour of his three bee hives.
Bees are a massively important part of a garden’s ecosystem, they naturally pollinate your flowers and vegetable plants, and best of all they produce delicious honey – another reason not to go to crowded supermarkets.
Tony explains how to grow potatoes in a no-dig garden using plastic tubs of compost topped with a bit of straw to prevent weeds getting in.
He says: “There’s nothing better than coming up to a greenhouse or polytunnel or a garden and cutting vegetables that you can take home and say you grew that. It’s just a fantastic feeling.”
Tony gives us his top tips on how to get the plumpest, ripest tomatoes at home by sewing the seeds between February and April depending on the kind of tomato. He reveals what to feed them and how often, how to prune them for maximum ventilation in the summer months, and even the difference between a determinate tomato plant and an indeterminate one.
Determinate tomato plants are bush-like, good for plum tomatoes in a pasta sauce.
Indeterminate tomato plants grow upward, need trimming and pruning often to enable them to produce more fruit and less leaves.
He says: “There’s nothing like it. When you bite into your own grown tomatoes you notice the difference straight away.”
“You just need a few seeds in a little plant pot on a windowsill and they’ll germinate.”
Using hooks and string to keep the tomatoes upright, or you can use bamboo canes, Tony has a plethora of tomatoes in his polytunnel, from orange coloured beef tomatoes to Brad’s atomic grape tomatoes which are often black in colour.
“Anyone can grow tomatoes. Getting them to a nice size is sometimes a little bit tricky but if you follow these tips you’ll do it.”
Tony explains the massive spike in interest in gardening since lockdown: “It’s healthy, the health benefits are fantastic, it’s all organic and I think it gives you a certain amount of pride when you bring home a bunch of tomatoes and put them on the table.”
Tony gives tells us his insight into different ways to protect your vegetables, one of which is companion planting or otherwise known as the ‘three sisters method’ – a Native American technique where you grow sweetcorn, beans and squash together.
The three crops all compliment each other and play a part in each other’s survival as they each stop pests or weeds in their own way – a perfect harmony.
Tony also recommends using nets to keep out pecking pigeons and butterflies laying hungry caterpillar eggs on your crops, as well as a line of copper tape around the beds to prevent slugs from having a munch too.
Tony recommends making your own compost and even putting some flowers in your vegetable garden to brighten up the place as you get to work.
He says: “Put a bit of colour in your garden, it brightens up the day and it adds a feel-good factor.”
Watch more video’s from Tony Smith on his YouTube Channel