Gardening takes a lot more than just having a green thumb. Whether you’ve been tending gardens for years or you’re just starting to get into the trade, you’re bound to encounter a variety of situations where you may need some expert advice. To give you some ideas on how to tend your garden and grow your plants, fruits or vegetables, here are a number of gardening tips you may want to take to heart to help you get started or improve your craft.
1. Always Test Your Soil Before Buying
The soil is a gardener’s main tool when it comes to raising plants, flowers and vegetables so it’s important that you’re able to get the right one for your garden. Keep in mind that there are soils made for specific plants. So when buying soil, always look at its pH content. Most plants thrive when a soil’s pH level ranges from 6.5 to 7. pH levels can be tested using kits that are sold in most plant and garden stores. These kits rely on the use of color to gauge the pH level of the soil.
2. Raised Beds to Build Up Soil
Building up your soil is one of the best ways to ensure that your garden thrives. Deep and rich soil promotes healthy roots which help provide your plants with the water and nutrients they need. The best way to get your deep, rich soil is through raised beds. Due to its proper spacing and loose fertile soil, raised beds are able to deliver four times faster than plants that are planted in rows. They also do it at a fast rate because raised beds allow plants to grow close together preventing any other plant life like weeds from getting into their soil.
3. Keep Your Beds Rounded
Raised beds aren’t the only way for your garden to blossom – keeping these beds rounded also contributes to the longevity of your plants, fruits and vegetables. This is made possible due to the shape of the bed. Rounded beds are able to provide additional space compared to squared beds. Depending on how the rounded bed was made, you may get an increase of 20% of planting space enabling you to plant more in your garden. Rounded beds are also perfect for planting spinach, lettuce and other vegetables since you can just put them at the edge of the rounded bed.
4. Select the Right Seed Varieties
Despite what you may think, not all seeds will grow even if you use the most expensive fertilizer and plant them in nutrient-rich soil. That’s why it’s crucial for you to select the right seed varieties for your garden. Seeds grow depending on the environment they’re in. The weather, soil and the length of the growing season play a role in seed growth. If you have a small garden, choose seeds that fall under the bush variety. If the growing season in your area is short, the seed varieties you should look into are the maturing varieties since they grow and mature faster than normal seeds.
5. Proper Spacing and Arrangement Is a Must
Avoid crowding your plants in one area and give them ample breathing room. Proper spacing and arrangement allows them to grow faster and more freely enabling them to reach their full sizes. Give or take, spacing between each plant should be around eight to ten inches. Avoid planting them in square patterns or rows since that type of layout will also stunt their growth. The best way to maximize your plants’ spacing is by planting them in triangles. This will give you the benefit of having 10 to 14 percent more plants in your garden bed.
6. Choose the Right Area to Grow Your Plants
Aside from proper spacing, choosing the right area to grow your plants, fruits or vegetables also plays a key role in their longevity. There are some plants that can survive in warm conditions while there are some that thrive better in cool temperatures. Make the mistake of putting them in the wrong part of your garden and you’ll be left with nothing but future compost. So be sure you know what area is suitable for your plants to ensure that you’ll have the lush garden you’ve always wanted.
7. Grow Your Plants Vertically
In gardening, growing upward offers a number of benefits. First, you get to plant more no matter how small your garden may be. Since the plants will be grown upward, it won’t eat up any additional space in your garden. Second, you won’t have a hard time finding the plants you’re looking for since you’ll be able to get a good view of them quickly. Lastly, planting upwards allows your plants and its fruits to avoid diseases and other pests, keeping them safe and healthy at all times.
8. Get the Right Combination of Plants
Humans and animals aren’t the only species that find ways to help each other out. Even plants are able to do that – provided they’re compatible with one another. Plants with this type relationship are able to help each other in terms of growth and protection. Some of the plants you can combine together include squash, bean and corn. Another batch could be tomato, basil and onions.
9. Embrace Succession Planting
The more you harvest, the better – and practicing succession planting is one way of ensuring that. With succession planting, you’re able to grow more than one plant type in your garden allowing you to harvest more. You can do this by replacing what you originally planted in your garden with something new at once. One way to do this is by planting trans plants. Since they’re older than seed plants, they’ll grow faster enabling you to replace them and re-use their soil.
10. Start the Season Early
While most gardeners are particular about sticking to the start and end of a season, you might want to consider stretching the season by planting some more even after a few weeks it has ended. Since there will probably still be a residual effect of the previous climate, plants, fruits and vegetables that thrived during that period can still be nurtured and will be able to grow. To help stretch the warm season, make sure to keep the air in your garden warm by using mulches and covers. You can also use blankets to add warmth to the soil.
11. Sow Your Seeds
Germinating seeds is one way of nurturing them to grow quickly. The best way to make them germinate is through sowing. When sowing soil, it’s best to complement it with seed sowing media to help the seed germinate faster. These sowing media can be a mix of vermiculite, peat, and perlite. The combination of light and moisture during the sowing period will also help the seeds germinate quickly.
12. Practice Transplanting
Sowing seeds is the first step to make them germinate and once they’ve done that, the next step is for you transplant them to a different container or pot. This is important since seeds should not be left throughout the night with wet leaves to ensure they grow. Once they show signs of having leaves, make sure to transplant them at once, preferably in a four-inch pot which is considered the ideal size to ensure proper growth after transplant.
13. Sow Bean Tips Directly
If you happen to be growing bean tips, always remember to sow them directly into the soil. Bean tips should not be transplanted since they will not grow. Make sure to plant them after the cold season since planting them earlier than expected can cause them to rot due to moist soil resulting from the cold weather. Should you need to plan bean tips earlier, make sure to cover the soil with tarp to keep its temperature warm.
14. Avoid Transplanting Cucumber Tips
Transplanting also doesn’t sit well with cucumbers mainly because this vegetable requires regular exposure to the sun as well as enough space between them and other plants. To ensure that it gets the right amount, you need to sow them into your garden. Again, avoid doing this during the cold season so that they will get the warmth they need. Planting after the cold season also keeps the cool temperature from killing them.
15. Growing Onions? Start Them Indoors
Onions come in two varieties – long-day and short-day – but regardless of what you choose to grow, both types thrive in starting indoors. By keeping them inside at first, it will be able to mature better. The moment they’re ready for transplant is the time you can leave them outside to soak in the sun. Depending on what you choose to grow, short-day onions require 12 hours of sunlight while long-day ones need 15 to 16 hours.
16. Pepper Tips Require the Right Amount of Germination
Pepper tips can be tough to grow and especially tough to germinate. This will most likely occur if you are unable to meet the demands of keeping them indoors during the early stages of their developmental process. So to help you speed up its germination process, make sure that your soil is properly heated. You can start low and then raise to 80 degrees for more efficient seed germination.
17. Lift and Divide
The process of lifting and dividing prevent plants from clumping together and ensure that they develop properly. This process works particularly well with irises. As its name implies, once the plants clumped together more than they did before, you’ll need to separate them and plant them in different containers or locations. During the process of lifting and dividing, make sure to keep the majority of the root ball too for storing in your grass to maintain the quality of your turf.
18. Use a Growing Bag
Growing bags is a good way of raising vegetable plants, particularly those you plan to consume during the summer. Vegetables you should include here are those that don’t have any deep roots like peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes. You can start by shaking the compost loose to spread them evenly. Puncture the bottom of the bag to act as its drain. Remove a portion of the compost good enough to put in your plants. Place two to three plants in each bag during springtime so they’ll be ready by the time summer comes.
19. Provide Ample Protection During Winter
Plants have a tough time dealing with winter so it’s best to give them ample protection during this season. Generally, a good-sized bark or mulch surround your plants can keep moisture from developing. For tropical plants, remove their leaves and wrap a screen around them. You can tie the screen onto wooden or plastic stakes that are placed around your plants’ area. A frame can also be used to cover the side of the garden area along with plastic or glass top.
20. Layer Your Plants
One way to get new plants for free is by propagating them through layering. This technique can be done by lowering a branch or shoot to your soil. Once it’s low enough, slice or wound the shoot and then cover it with soil. If done properly, the wound will grow roots which can then be separated from its parent plant once it’s developed, creating a new plant.
21. Provide Adequate Support for Climbers
Letting your plants grow vertically allows you have more space in garden. However, if you decide to pursue this, you’ll need to provide your climbers with adequate support. One thing you can put is a trellis so they have something to climb on to. A fence wall or a number of well-placed wires can also provide your plants with the direction they need to follow as they grow vertically.
22. Efficient Watering of Plants Is a Must
Simply showering your plants isn’t enough to help them attain their full growing potential. Watering needs to be done efficiently, often targeting areas that need the water more. Be sure to water your plants early in the morning or at night. This will allow your plants to get all the moisture they need before the sun reaches its peak. Make sure to water parts or areas of the plants that require a lot of moisture to function properly. Remember, it is not the frequency of watering but how thorough you are in watering that helps your plants grow. Thoroughly watering your plants will improve their system of roots making it easier for them in the long run to collect water to survive.
23. Properly Plant in Boxes
Most gardeners enjoy putting their plants in boxes, especially colorful ones during winter. However, proper maintenance is required for these plants to survive if ever you decide to put them in plant boxes. Once you’ve selected the right size and type of box you want to use, make sure to fill it up with compost first before you put in the plants. When feeding your plants in a container, consider adding controlled-release fertilizer to the compost. Watering them regularly is also crucial since the containers dry quickly causing plants get dehydrated faster compared to those that are not placed in containers.
24. Use Autumn Leaves to Create Your Own Leaf Mould
Also known as garden compost, creating your own leaf mould is an economical way to keep your plants healthy since autumn leaves decompose over time. Start by gathering all the leaves into one black rubbish bag. Make sure that the bag has some holes punched at the bottom and on the sides. Once full, water the leaves, shake, and then leave it in an area that’s not hit by sunlight. Over time, the leaves will rot and be converted into a crumbly but rich mixture which you can use.
25. Dig, Dig, Dig
Regular digging can bring out the best out of your garden mainly because it’s able to cultivate the soil. Proper cultivation of your soil ensures the proper growth of your plants. The best months to do this would be from October to December since the soil doesn’t have any frost and can be left over until winter is over. Avoid digging during the middle of the winter until spring since the soil is either wet or frozen. Wet soil is heavy and whenever you dig through heavy soil, there is a tendency for the soil’s structure to be ruined resulting in the development of poor drainage.
26. Plot and Rotate Your Plants
Plotting and rotating your plants isn’t done just to keep things organized in your garden. This is also done to keep the soil from being exhausted of its nutrients. When you grow plants in the same area every year, the soil runs out of sustenance leading to the development of pests and diseases. These in turn can ruin the health of your plants once they’ve manifested. As a suggestion, group your plants into four beds and rotate them yearly.
27. Feed Your Plants Properly
While nutrients from the soil are a big help in the development of plants, feeding them directly can help in their growth as well. A healthy plant diet consists of the following nutrients: potassium for fruits and flowers, nitrogen for leaf growth and phosphorus for root development. Depending on your needs, an all-around fertilizer will contain equal amounts of all three nutrients. However, there are also other fertilizers that have a high content of each ingredient if you’re looking to target only one.
28. Choose the Right Gardening Tools
With all the garden tools on display, it’s nice to know that you won’t need to buy all of them to be able to care for your garden. Always remember that your tools depend on your garden. Pruning shears for example, will work if the plants you want to trim aren’t that big. To help you get started on building your gardening kit, consider investing on a gardening knife, rake, draw hoe, fork, spade and a wheelbarrow as a beginner’s kit.
29. Practice Proper Greenhouse Maintenance
Greenhouses require regular and proper maintenance since they tend to develop pests and plant diseases over time due to its heat and humidity. Some of the things you can clean include your greenhouse’s windows to help sunlight get in. Wash them with soap and water to remove lingering residue on the window’s surface. Remove unnecessary pots or containers to prevent dirt build up and throw out dying plants to keep them from infecting your healthy plants.
30. Build Hedges in Your Garden
A natural hedge doesn’t just act as an attractive garden feature – it can also act as a barrier to protect your plants from pollution and sound. This is made possible since the hedge will act as a barrier to keep unwanted elements in. The hedge will also act as a home to wildlife which also helps in the development of flowers and other plant life.