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Lessons we've learned whilst gardening at home

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When Melbournians went into lockdown earlier this year, many of us decided to give gardening a shot for the first time. Now that our veggie patches and flower beds have matured a little, let's take a step back and reflect on the top gardening lessons we've learned over the past few seasons.

Laying the groundwork for a garden can be exhausting:

As it turns out, planting is the easy part. It's the digging and soil preparation that will really take a lot out of you! For new homeowners eyeing up the empty spots and abandoned landscaping efforts around their properties, gardening in isolation has involved many mucky and exhausting hours.

Luckily, preparing the soil for vegetable plots and ornamental flowerbeds is typically a one-time investment in your garden. All the aerating, fertilising and edging was necessary for establishing well-drained and nutrient-rich soil, as well as a welcoming ecosystem for your plants. Now that you've quite literally laid all the groundwork, you can pick up right where you left off this time next year.

Plants have their own likes and dislikes:

When imagining your first-time garden, you might have had grand visions of cultivating dramatic foliage or exotic fruits. Well, it probably wasn't long before you realised that each type of plant has its own preferences. Certain varietals demand bright, sunny spots, whereas others love cool and shady environments. Novice gardeners won't have much luck trying to force something that's just not meant to be.

This year of at-home gardening experiments has taught many of us that we'll have much more success by putting the right plant in the right place. Native varieties tend to do especially well, but even these need to be put in the ground at the correct time of year. Respecting each plant's needs and giving it what it needs to thrive can lead to more success and pleasant surprises.

Gardening gives us something wonderful to look forward to:

They say gardening is an exercise in optimism, and many of us who started their gardens this past year can attest to this.

Planting bulbs earlier in the year wasn't rewarding right away. But as spring has unfolded, first-time gardens have dazzled Australian homeowners and their neighbours by revealing bright colours and lush green vegetation where there used to be bare earth.

In a time like the present, when it can seem as though there's no end in sight to the pandemic, investing in a first-time garden is an act of hope and a wonderful method of self-care.

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The payoff makes it all worth it:

There's nothing like the feeling of plucking those first few carrots out of the ground, tasting the first ripe tomato or sharing a bowl full of home-grown berries with the family. In an era where we're often rewarded with instant gratification, the long-awaited results of a brand new garden feel incredibly special.

Of course, learning the cadence of when to plant and when to harvest will take some time. But experiencing the outcomes of all your hard work in the garden is a rewarding experience. Plus, it's a source of motivation to keep at it as the seasons' progress. As summer begins, you'll keep being able to enjoy delicious homegrown herbs, fruit and veg with friends and family, or sit out in the sun surrounded by ornamental plants in bloom and happy pollinators.

For many people, gardening may have seemed like an intimidating and complicated hobby. But with a bit of hard work and dedication, it's becoming a lifelong love.

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