‘ In the Garden Grows, More Than the Gardener Sows’
– Spanish Proverb
Either in a small planter on your porch, or out in your backyard, a garden is a great way to provide extra food and add life to your home. Your success in gardening is dependent on what you put into it. As you watch your plants grow, you as a gardener will grow also. One thing that is for certain, the larger your garden the more time and work you will spend in it.
With Summer-time gently easing its way into Fall, I can’t wait to start decorating my home in corn husks, mums and pumpkins. However, as Fall is approaching with winter in tow we say goodbye to our outside gardens until next year. This Summer, my husband and I have learned so many lessons about gardening since this was our first year with our own. We have narrowed it down to these five important tips that could help benefit you next Spring if you start preparations for a garden. Please feel free to comment or leave us an email showing us your garden and any tips you have to share. We love hearing from our readers and can’t wait to see your masterpiece!
Here are our five helpful tips for gardening:
1. Set a Budget
Gardening can become pricey if this is your first year. We had many first time purchases to consider before we broke ground. We have a plot of land where we live and eat many vegetables so we decided to plan for a larger garden. Here are the initial gardening expenses we had to consider the following purchases in our budget.
– Tractor & Implements / Rototiller
– Garden Tools (Shovel, Hoes, Rakes, Post Hole Digger, Digging Bar…)
– Fencing Materials (Posts, Wire, Electric Fencer…)
FYI: The more wildlife surrounding you, the bigger the fence you’ll need!
– Seeds & Plants
– Fertilizer & Chemicals
– Sprinkler (we had several weeks with no rain)
– Time and Patience
Finding a location either in a planter on your porch or a section of land on your ground is the first step to your garden. You need to find a location that has relatively little shale or clay compared to soil. This is so important for your garden. If you have the wrong type of soil you may be disappointed when you put down several seeds and nothing produces. To find the right soil, you need to find soil that is loose and dry and not with a lot of shale. Once you find your location its time to break in the ground and turn your soil. You can do this by removing the grass/weeds either by using a rotary tiller and a hoe for a small/medium garden and for a larger garden a tractor with implements such as your plow and disks. The tractor makes it easier to break up rough ground and bury the sod under. Be sure to make your garden fence large enough for the tractor to maneuver.
If you live out in the sticks like my husband and I, you will soon discover having a garden with no fence is nonsense! Wildlife see a garden as we see the golden arches when hungry. Deer, rabbits and groundhogs are our biggest issue where we live. To resolve this issue you can add fencing to your garden. The more wildlife the more fencing you will need and taller posts. There are several ways you can design your garden fencing you can search this in your search engine for numerous tips and advice on what is convenient for your location. One trick we learned this year was that deer hate the smell of dryer sheets. For just a few dollars, you can attach dryer sheets with clothes pins to fence, string or wire and it will do a really good job of deterring deer. Honestly, we couldn’t beat it for the time involved and price (less than $10 and maybe 5 – 10 minutes every week or so).
4. Seeds and Plants
This is probably the most exciting and easy part for the Gardener. When it was time for my husband and I to come to this process it was like two kids in a candy store …well… Southern States and Tractor Supply. We decided to plant both flowers and vegetables. I love planting flowers. They bring such creativity to our home. There are two categories of flowers when considering your purchase, annuals and perennials. The difference between the two are this, annuals last for only the season and perennials come back season after season. They are so rewarding to see poking up in the Spring! So, be sure to check the tag in the pre-potted plant for this info or check your seed packet. Annuals tend to bloom the entire summer and perennials have shorter blooming season. Annuals need more water than perennials because most annuals have more color which make for such a welcoming touch to your home. Perennials however, need preparation. The early you plant in the spring the more pretty the bloom will be in the Summer time, as long as you plant after the frost. Frost will kill your plants! When choosing pre-planted plants (those displayed in black, plastic cups) be sure to check the leaves and the stems. Purchase plants that are not yellow or have weak stems. You want to get your money’s worth so you’re not buying to have a funeral for your dead plant. To plant these plants, you gently have to release them from the plastic cup. To do so you can add a little water to loosen the soil or squeeze the cup for removal. Do not tug on the plant itself or the stem to remove plant, otherwise you can/will harm your plant. After removal from the cup, you want to loosen the roots so they can spread. Do this without removing the soil ball with the plant. When planting, do not plant your plants/seeds close together. For seeds, read the instructions on your seed packet. For plants, plant enough space in between so the plant can spread.
5. Nurturing your plants (Light, Water, Fertilizer, and Weeding)
These are so essential for every garden/plant! For proper lighting for your garden or plant be sure to read your seed packs or the plastic tab in plant at purchase. A plant will need either full sun or partial sun this will determine where will be the best location to plant. There are plants suitable for each degree of lighting. Like our garden, it receives 6 hours or more of sun a day so we have plants that require all full sun. If we had a garden were it only received sun in the morning and evening we would then purchase our plants that required half sun/shade. Again, please refer to the the time which the sun will be hitting the plant to the directions on the packet or plastic tab. Always consider the objects that may be hindering the sun light and block proper lighting to your plants which can include, trees, sheds, house, etc. One last thought about lighting, consider too that when planting corn or sunflowers they will create a lot of shade and may “starve” close plants from receiving the sun they need.
Water is important for your garden and plants. I love rainy days for this reason and this reason alone! When we have rainy days I don’t have the worry of hooking up the sprinkler and hose. A garden needs a good drink every week, just like we get thirsty so does our plants. You want to water your garden either in the early morning or evening when sun is not directly on the plant. Water will evaporate quickly on your plants if you water during the day and this can shock your plant so as to not receive enough water it needs.
Fertilizing your plants is also essential to have good nutrients for leaf and stem growth. Using fertilizer and lime, you can bring the pH of the up (which is essential for growth) as well as provide the essential nutrients the plant will need. We cast the fertilizer on the ground and raked it into the dirt before we planted. Additionally, we added some more fertilizer and lime when we replanted rows mid-season. You can choose two types of fertilizers organic or chemical. Both work great, however with organic it will help your soil over time. Plants need nitrogen, calcium and phosphorus to grow properly and healthy. Just like we need our daily vitamins, growing plants need theirs also. Jason and I started a compost bin by using an old tote and drilling holes all over including the lid. We added topsoil (enough to layer the bottom) and started adding non-meat and non-dairy organic scraps and egg shells (even a few worms). I’ve attached a link of 10 things to avoid when composting.
Mulch is great for your garden also it holds in moisture as long as you do not put mulch close to your plant roots or stems this will cause them to rot quickly.
You want to keep up with weeding your garden, otherwise weeds will take over and choke your plants. When you see a weed pull it out of the ground. Never spray or add weed killers in your garden or around your plants this can destroy your plants very easily. When pulling weeds be sure not to disturb your plant roots for it will hinder your plant growth or even worse, kill your plant. Here is a wonderful link on ways to reduce weeds in your garden. How To Get Rid of Weeds
A garden will improve year after year, so long as you properly maintain it. Jason and I have discovered so many new tips and tricks from our first year of gardening at our new home. We hope these five tips will help you with your gardening and planting in the future. Please feel free to email/comment telling us your tips and tricks. We would love to see your garden and flowers if you want to share with us your gardening photos.
There are many lessons to be learned by gardening, and the only one way to learn them is by getting your hands dirty!