Judith Rakers: As a gardener you don’t need a green thumb

Judith Rakers: As a gardener you don’t need a green thumb
Judith Rakers: As a gardener you don’t need a green thumb

Many people are put off from gardening by prejudices. Without a green thumb, it’s pointless. All nonsense, says Judith Rakers.

The former “Tagesschau” presenter Judith Rakers (48) has been intensively committed to the topic of gardening for several years. Since 2022, for example, she has been running her successful podcast “Homefarming – Make it delicious at home” and has also written three books that revolve exclusively around her favorite hobby. Rakers has now moderated the “Future Perspectives Garden” event organized by Neudorff in Hamburg, where experts spoke, among other things, about the challenges of gardening due to the changing climate.

Rakers herself was available to answer questions at the event and gave numerous tips in an interview for fellow gardeners – and of course for those who want to become gardeners. Among other things, she revealed her personal tips for all city dwellers with balconies. She also explained why you don’t need a green thumb to garden and what is most often overestimated and underestimated when it comes to vegetable gardening.

How did you discover your passion for gardening?

Judith Rakers: About the love of nature. I wanted to get out of the city and hear birdsong in the morning rather than street noise. So I looked for and found a house in the Hamburg area that had a large garden. I started my first attempts at growing vegetables there and it became such a passion that I now even write books about it and publish an online magazine about home farming.

Sowing, tending, harvesting – what do you enjoy most about gardening?

Rakers: The food (laughs). The food you harvest yourself just tastes so incomparably good. And in my garden, many rare types of fruit and vegetables grow that you can’t find in the supermarket. And enjoying them in a simple, delicious and seasonal way is what I enjoy most!

What gardening tips do you have for city dwellers with balconies?

Rakers: I would generally recommend trying growing vegetables on the balcony. There are so many varieties that are pretty and tasty at the same time and don’t take up much space: I can particularly recommend leaf lettuce, Asian lettuce, bush tomatoes, Mexican mini cucumbers, colorful chard, funny blue peas and edible flowers for the balcony. You can even grow herbs, leaf lettuce, radishes and even potatoes in your apartment in front of a bright window.

Many people think that they don’t have a green thumb for gardening. Do you think that anyone can learn to garden quickly and easily or do you need a certain talent for it?

Rakers: I am living proof that you don’t need a lot of time or a green thumb. Everything can be learned. And you can start at any age.

What mistakes can beginners avoid? What three tips do you have for enthusiasts without a green thumb?

Rakers: Firstly: start with simple vegetables and only then venture into the vegetables that require a lot of care and have to be grown early. Secondly: put up a snail fence around the bed from the start so that the “slimy ones” don’t get into the bed and lay eggs there. Thirdly: don’t get annoyed with the mole, but use its mounds to fill tubs and pots.

What are your top three vegetables for beginners, what can even inexperienced people manage?

Rakers: lettuce, radishes, peas.

What has gone wrong in your garden? What was your biggest garden faux pas?

Rakers: I missed a whole mirabelle plum harvest because I thought I could still harvest after my vacation. But the birds saw things differently and ate everything.

In your opinion, what is most often overestimated – or underestimated – when it comes to vegetable gardening?

Rakers: The time required is overestimated and the taste of your own vegetables is underestimated (laughs).

What should hobby gardeners pay attention to when buying fertilizer – if they cannot use horse manure like you?

Rakers: I would only use fully organic fertilizers, as it is possible without chemicals. But I don’t want to be a missionary. Everyone has to decide for themselves.

Have you tried something completely new in the garden this year?

Rakers: Yes, I’m growing beans for the first time and I’m trying out new tomato varieties again.

Do you think that gardening is an important aspect and the right step towards a more climate-friendly planet?

Rakers: It’s certainly only a small step, but if everyone who has their own garden or at least a balcony or terrace took it, we could save a lot of CO2. Because the vegetables in your own garden have the shortest supply chain in the world.

Hobby gardeners have to adapt because the climate is becoming more unpredictable. What is your tip for growing vegetables in this regard? What should people pay attention to?

Rakers: You can try to take precautions here. I recommend setting up rain barrels, for example. Even a watering can that collects rain is a good idea. Mulching the bed in summer also helps during droughts. In extreme rain, loose soil that is regularly tilled and not compacted helps. And in storms, good quality helps – it’s better to invest in a decent greenhouse than to watch the cheap, sloppy thing fly away in pieces.

Source: Stern

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