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7 Simple Steps To A Great Garden
Apr 30, 2008 - GrowOrganic
This was originally in our monthly newsletter. I thought I’d repost it here as many of you are getting your gardens in the ground.
When your tomatoes are terrific, your dill is delicious, your beets are beatific, and your squash is scrumptious, you will look back and say “I’m so glad I gave them all the nutrients they needed, watered just right, and planted perfectly!”
Sometimes it is good to remember where to begin. I personally do not have an encyclopedia of gardening wisdom in my head. I was hired here at Peaceful Valley because I’m ok at design and can code a mean newsletter. But I do love to garden. I often go around to all the fantastically knowledgeable employees here and ask really dumb questions. The result of the fastidious research: I’ve come up with a list.
This list is called back to basics. It’s for those of us who are starting a garden but really don’t know with assurance that we are doing it right.
1. Beware of frost. This is particularly important right now when many people like me will be so impatient to get started that they will plant out after a few sunny April days despite the fact that traditionally the last frost in their area is in May. Ask around your community, and be patient.
2. Don’t over-water. Water, while essential to life, does not necessarily make your plants get big and healthy on its own. Water needs air, and air can’t get to your plant if the roots are literally drowning.
3. Don’t over-fertilize. Even though you use an organic fertilizer, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have too much of a good thing. Everything in moderation. If you are getting a bed started, even if you are working with particularly shoddy soil, a good mix would be 1/3 compost and 2/3 dirt. For most basic gardens, an all purpose pellet fertilizer will supply the rest of the nutrients you need, all season long.
4. Maintain regularly. A few minutes in the evening a few times a week is much better for both your back and your garden than doing epic garden weekends. Not only will you see what is beginning to happen with your plants and be able to nip problems at the bud (literally), you will enjoy the extra time spent with your plants.
5. Know thy pest. A lot of people come to us and want to know how to get rid of “pests”, in general. You can learn a lot about your plant and soil conditions by identifying specifically what bugs you have in your garden. Head out to your garden an hour after sundown with a flashlight, see if you can’t find a hungry critter, grab it and bag it. Either identify it online, or bring it in to us or another gardening center to find out how to treat the problem precisely. (Click here to see our Pest Solutions Chart Online)
6. Sun and shade. It is incredibly easy to take for granted that the path of the sun across the sky throughout the season will change dramatically. This year, make a shade map of your yard, taking into account the filling out of trees and the changing path of the sun. You’ll be surprised at the results!
7. Ask questions. I’ve never met a gardener who didn’t want to share their triumphs. And you don’t have to be a gardening “expert” to have learned a thing or two. In fact, gardening and farming is a lifelong learning experience. Which is why we encourage you to join our online community and contribute your knowledge. If you don’t have anyone to ask when you are planting, at least read the labels on seed packs (and follow their directions)! Visit our website to see what kind of info we supply there. Post a question either on our blog or at our forums. If you learn something you think is simple, post it on our blog, others will certainly learn from it.