Gardening tips

Make plant markers from sticks.

Plant markers can get expensive.  Metal markers and clay markers, wear out over the years and the plant names become illegible.  Instead grab some 12 inch, straight branches from willow, popular, birch, dogwood or other straight, nonbranching sucker.  Carve off a strip of the bark, which is easy to do in the Spring. Write the plant name directly on the wood and pop into the soil.  Willow may root over the season, giving you a plant to transplant to another bed.  Most other species will behave when pushed into fertile soil as a plant marker.

Water your containers and seedlings with old coffee and tea

Another fun one of the gardening tricks is to not pour old coffee or tea down the drain.  Use it on your potted plants or containers.  Its rich in nitrogen, but a bit low in phosphorous.  Worried about chemicals in the coffee?  Switch to organic, fair trade coffee.   This works best on acid loving plants.  If you are growing plants that prefer a neutral soil, don’t do this more than once a month.

Save your coffee grounds

You can add coffee grounds directly to the soil, without composting first.  It will break down during the growing season and nourish your plants. Coffee grounds are rich in nitrogen.  If you need more than you produce yourself, go ask at your local espresso bar.  If your local coffee place isn’t involved in the program talk to their Green consultant, and ask them to get it going.

Prepare Your Soil

The health of the soil you are going to use is one key factor in determining the survivability of your garden. It is suggested that the soil should be evenly moist, well-aerated, and has the right pH. Before planting, water your soil enough to make it moist. Less water may not be sufficient to soak the ground, while too much water may result in soil clumping, which may hinder root growth. Meanwhile, the air underground is as important as the air above. The air in soil produces certain gases that are beneficial to the plant. And then the pH of the soil should be tested. There are kits you can buy to test the soil, but if you can’t find one, there’s another thing you can do to improve the health of the soil, and that is adding compost. Not only would the compost moderate the soil pH, but it will also help keep the soil aerated. And this step of soil preparation should be done weeks before your planned planting.

Choose Beginner Friendly Plants

For beginners, starting on a vegetable garden is something really feasible as many veggies are easier to grow compared to flowering plants. Some of these vegetables also have a reputation to thrive despite the fact that some beginner gardeners are notorious “plant killers.” A few of the plants that are excellent for beginners include

  • Lettuce and other leafy greens
  • Tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, radishes, turnips, zucchini, pumpkins, and green beans. Knowing your first and last frost dates will also help you estimate the frost danger for your garden. When you select your plants, make sure that you use your zone number for you to know your frost-free days. To determine your frost-free days, count the days between the first and last frost dates. The United States has approximately 120 frost-free days. If you opt to grow corn that takes 80 days to mature, then you are able to do so. However, if the variety of corn you choose to grow takes 150 days to mature, then harvest is the last thing you would get because those frost days will take over your crops before they mature.

Use A Plant Journal

This one is quite basic. You just have to set a journal as your plant journal so you can keep track of your plants (and those soon to be planted). You can also purchase a specialized gardening journal that is designed for tracking your garden, the fertilizers you need, the pests that you might encounter, and a sample planting calendar.

Maintain your gardening tools

Take care of your tools and other gardening essentials. Your trowel and your transplanter are your main tools, so make sure you have sturdy ones. A cultivator and some heavy-duty garden gloves are also needed for gardening. A cultivator can loosen hard soil that has been packed for a long time. Meanwhile, you can’t afford not to use garden gloves since they protect your hands from spikes and thorns; they also keep your hands clean. Of course, you have to maintain and clean up these gloves after use. One way to keep your sharp gardening tools working hard is to store them in a self-sharpening and self-cleaning mixture of sand and mineral oil. Put the mixture in a plastic pot and you’re ready to go. Make sure you wipe your tools and dry them out first so you can avoid rust from penetrating.

Consider Mixing Annuals And Perennials

For flowering plants, consider mixing annuals and perennials together. Annuals are those plants that last for a year, while perennials are those that grow over many years.  Mixing them in your garden will allow leverage for your flowering plants. Once the annuals wither, the perennials will take their place. Annuals should be replaced every year while perennials spread and thrive for a lot of years. The blooms of annuals are usually bright and last from spring through the first frost. Meanwhile, the blooms of perennials don’t last long and usually fall off. Annuals may require pruning and fertilization despite their short life span. As for perennials, their roots spread outward so it is necessary to divide them every few years.

Keep Seed Packets In A Photo Album

If you are fond of purchasing seeds from your local garden shop or supermarket, sort your seed packets by using a photo album. This way, you can easily find the seeds you are looking for in case you want a new batch for sowing. The photo album could also store your seed packets properly and will prevent the seeds from spilling out.

Incorporate Mulch

Now that you have determined and learned how to improve your garden soil, it would be best to also incorporate mulch to your garden. Aside from giving your garden an aesthetic appeal and a more cohesive look, mulch prevents the growth of weed, moderates the temperature of the soil, and conserves soil moisture. If you have bare soil, mulch prevents it from cracking and baking in the sun, which can hinder water absorption when you irrigate. So use organic mulch in a typical vegetable or flower garden, but choose to use pumice, pebbles or stones if you are trying to grow cacti and succulents. Moreover, adding compost can also improve the condition of your garden soil. The silty or clay texture of your garden soil will be radically improved from the compost being mixed in. Before incorporating mulch, put compost and other organic material into your garden soil since they can hold the soil particles together in aggregates and therefore help in retaining moisture.