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Know what should be grown - cuttings and seeds:

Create a list of vegetables and herbs you want to grow and make a search on finding good cuttings and seeds for them from garden centres, by the roadside, from friends, online, but don't take wild plants as they are usually protected (in UK anyway).

Quality and condition of seeds and cuttings matters a lot. Moreover vegetables are totally region dependent and change according to climatic conditions. Make sure you are about to grow the proper vegetable at the appropriate time and place.


This sounds hard work but if you are planting out a small garden, is just good exercise. Dig the soil well and remove all stones, dirt, wild roots, bugs, weeds etc. You must dig it about 40 cm deep to give roots enough depth for expansion.

If you want minimal effort, see our pages on container and square foot gardening.

Hand search for insects and pests:

The bugs will scarper but pick them quickly and carefully. You will soon get to enjoy this form of hunting. Imagine yourself a vast and vengeful god who hates pests. Luckily insects are not psychic, as far as we know.

Insects are not psychic, even ants

Above: Insects are not psychic, even ants

Large garden beetle pest

Above: This beetle (3 cm) might be a bit big for hand picking

If this is too disgusting for you, you will have to use chemical warfare, but we frown on this.

After you have sown seeds and watered your garden, check for bugs or insects after every two to three days. Always try to use fewer amounts of pesticides as they could damage the nutrition value of soil and moisture.

If you have a problem with ants, use diet sweetener to kill them off. Apparently Aspartame ws invented as an ant killer , then it was found to be sweet (not sure how!) and so was added to our food. But..."scientists claimed that FDA's acceptable daily intake (ADI) of aspartame - 50 milligrams per kilogram of body weight per day, approved in 1983 - is potentially carcinogenic". This is scandalous, see aspartame ant killer site (at end of the linked page on ant poison) for more details.

Herb gardening:

Mint plant in a pot - herbs

Above: Start your garden simply - Mint plant in a pot - herbs are a good start for a simple home garden - and useful too

It's always a good gardening practice to dry herbs for the winter. You can also dry seeds for next season.

Dry herbs by washing them well, placing them in a soft thin cloth and covering them from dust. Keep them for two to four days in sunlight and allow them to dry. Now place them in airproof jars and use them in your cuisine when needed.