8 Basic Tips for Beginning Gardening
When you plan your garden choose plants that require similar nutrients, soil, and sunlight. This will make your chores far simpler and you will have a better garden.
- Soil Types
There are only three fundamental soil types: sand, silt, and clay. You should identify which kind you have and choose plants appropriately. Otherwise, you can pot a different kind of soil for use with each plant respectively.
- Organic Fertilizer
‘Fertilizer’ has become a naughty word in our eco-conscious world. Keep in mind, though, that cow manure, which is as natural as rain, is also fertilizer. It is always best to use organic fertilizers, because the role of fertilizers is to augment the nutrition levels in the soil. If you are putting inorganic substances into the garden, then you are suppressing the nutrients and discouraging plant friendly microbes and worms. Remember to follow instructions carefully.
- Mulch the Soil
Mulching minimizes the weed growth. Weeds compete for water and nutrients, which means mulching preserves water and nutrients for your plant’s use. A dense layer of mulch will hold in moisture and adjust temperature according to the climate. In warmer climates it will keep the soil cooler and in colder climates warmer. Bark mulch is the best kind.
- Diseases and Pests
You should familiarize yourself with the most common diseases and pests for your plants; only then can you keep your garden population healthy and green. Remember to choose the method for controlling diseases and pests that utilizes the least amount of chemical agents.
You should prune as early as you can. Watch for buds that are beginning to appear. The warmer Spring weather aids in the healing cuts you make, but a young tree should be pruned as little as possible. More of the tree’s energy is directed toward healing the pruned part and less toward growth of the specimen.
Clip off sprouts from the roots, since they do not contribute flowers or fruits and are unattractive. To maintain an attractive appearance, prune the oldest parts each year and leave the youngest. Keep in mind that each plant grows at different rates, so prune appropriately. For example, trim a lilac more often than a rhododendron, since the lilac grows faster. When you are dealing with flowering shrubs, prune after the last blossoms are spent to avoid removing flowers before they blossom (i.e. mock orange).
When pruning, remove any dead or diseased parts of the plant all the way down to the healthy parts. Any broken branches are also good candidates for pruning.
- Flowering Plants
Encouraging plants to flower requires the same kind of attention as does growing any plants. However, there are two special elements pertaining to flowering plants that you should keep in mind. Firstly, you should remove spent flowers as soon as they pass their prime. This stops them from falling into the soil and creating ideal conditions for diseases. It also allows energy to go to the rest of the plant. This is especially true of flowering annuals, but is just as applicable to flowering shrubs. Secondly, you should maintain your own compost and supplement it with potash or potassium. This must be the largest nutrient in the compost that you will use in your flowering plant’s soil.
When deciding when to water and how often, there are no solid rules that apply to every plant. So you must become an excellent observer as you care for your plants. The plant type, soil type and contour, the weather, the plant’s exposure to wind, rain, and sunlight, the season, and so many other factors affect how watering should be administered.
That having been said, there are some general principles that can be applied. Remember not to water every day for plants that need regular watering. Water a longer time every 2-3 days to encourage their roots to grow deep. Shallow roots give the plant a weak foundation, but watering every few days grows a stronger base for your plants.
The quickest and easiest method for determining whether or not a plant requires watering is by checking its soil. If you get a soil core sampler you can occasionally take a sample from 6-12 inches underground. This is the surest way to determine what is going on where your plant’s roots live. If it is moist, everything is fine. If it is dry, then your roots are not getting any water and you should water.
Take the organic scraps from your kitchen garbage and place them in a compost heap. You can also include shredded materials from your pruning. Do not put fruit or vegetable scraps that include the outside of the food if you did not wash them before eating and discarding them. Otherwise, you introduce pesticides into your compost and poison your plants.