From Basil Seeds

My First Growing Year

My first little foray into growing my own was in the summer of 2013 when I successfully grew a pot of sweet basil from seed in a terracotta pot in my garden.


At this time, my garden consisted of a large patio and lots of grass. There were no flower borders at all. I essentially had a blank canvas and absolutely no idea what to do with it, let alone any funds to use on it! No tools and a complete sense of overwhelm.

I didn’t know an annual from a perennial. I just had a vague notion that I rather liked the look of hydrangeas, roses and tulips and then, of course, there was this sudden buzz of satisfaction when I picked those first basil leaves to adorn my spag bol.

The obvious starting point for me back then was to grow a few things in pots. I successfully grew spinach, rocket, chives and lettuce in pots and started buying a few plants too. I vividly remember a white-haired lady warning me in the local fruit and veg shop about the riskiness of buying a bougainvillea. I had no idea what she was talking about. My thoughts were: if it’s for sale in this shop local to me at this time of year it must be fine, surely? Well it flowered beautifully in it’s little pot that year and then promptly died. I realised I had A LOT to learn.


By the end of that first summer, I had acquired a potted lily, a little pot of strawberries, a hydrangea and a peppermint. I attempted to grow some sweet peppers but was far too late in the growing season for them to get anywhere. I realised for the first time that we had blackberries growing over the back of the fence in the far corner of the garden. My dad gave me a rhubarb plant which is still going strong now. My daughter Faye and I started to dream up a garden that we would love to own. We drew plans and read books…


We dug out the first border in the garden at the end of August and later planted lots of tulip bulbs. I invested in a little plastic greenhouse to grow on 240 plug pansies and violas I had picked up from the local garden centre. A new hobby had truly begun.


Then the wind blew down my little greenhouse… three times in total and pretty much destroyed most of the plants.

I took down the greenhouse and it’s bent poles. My enthusiasm waned. Winter rolled around. I thought longingly of the tulips I’d planted and wondered if they would grow. I dreamed of all the things I might grow. I thought about having all the gear and no idea… except I didn’t even have all the gear – just a trowl and mini fork, a rotten shed full of old paint cans, a temperamental petrol mower, and whole load of weeds.

Maybe this was all a bit beyond me, I thought…


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