Good Practices for a Successful Home Garden
Our Horticulture Manager, Kristin Nikodemski, recently presented a webinar on good practices for keeping a successful home garden. Let’s recap some of her recommendations! You can catch the full webinar here.
Whether you’re a new gardener or a seasoned expert, there are plenty of best practices you can keep in mind to keep your garden flourishing this spring and summer. It’s essential to work smarter, not harder to attract both success and satisfaction in growing! Here are some tips to keep in mind as we open the gardening season.
It’s essential not to dig right into gardening! Start small. It’s okay to ease into gardening for the season, especially if you’re a novice. Try focusing on one section of your garden at a time to give your plants the TLC they deserve.
It’s also okay to play. Have fun with your garden! Pick out a few favorite plants and nurture them, and try mixing in something new every year that you haven’t tried to grow before. Starting out with seeds is a great way to keep prices down if you’re experimenting. And don’t forget, it’s okay to fail!
Set realistic goals. If you have a budget to stick to, don’t go overboard on planting just yet. Always keep in mind your ultimate goal for your garden. Is it about personal satisfaction? Or is it about saving some money at the grocery store? These two goals will require you to plan out different goals ahead of time for which plants you want to include and the timeline you’ll want to stick to.
Plan out which plants you’ll grow in containers and which will be grown in a plot ahead of time. For those growing in the ground, be sure to allow proper spacing so your plants will thrive. It’s also a good idea to plan how many vegetables and how many flowers you plan on incorporating. You should aim to plan a healthy mix!
Keep an Eye Out for Insects and Diseases
Once your plants are established and begin to bud, be sure to check daily (ideally, multiple times per day) for any signs of insects and diseases. Look underneath the leaves and stems often, and use a gentler product like AzaSol or Eco-1 Garden Spray to treat that use botanical ingredients you’re familiar with.
These products are both organic and OMRI certified. AzaSol is a powder made from the plant Neem that dissolves right in water. It keeps insects from feeding, reproducing, and moving on to the next stages of life. As a powder, AzaSol does not smother plants, but should be used as a preventative product because it is a slower process. Eco-1 Garden Spray is more of a “knockdown.” It’s made from a specialty blend of high quality, organically sourced, botanical oils, and extracts such as flax seed, thyme, and peppermint. This spray smothers insects and fungus spores to help prevent spreading.
Keep in mind that while organic products are generally better for the environment, they typically must be applied more often (but can usually be applied the same day as food harvest!). For larger harmful insects like beetles, consider protecting your plants with cloth covers.
Not all insects are bad, however! Attract beneficial organisms like ladybugs and praying mantises to your garden by bringing in flowering plants. Remember not to spray these beneficial insects directly with any pest control products. Try spraying at a point in the day when these organisms are less active.
Deal with Weeds the Right Way
Weeds are often one of the most cumbersome aspects of a garden to deal with. Always ask yourself how much time you really have to tend to the weeds before beginning so you don’t get trapped in to the process, and consider pulling weeds in batches if you’re busy! Always be sure to pull weeds when the ground is wet to not disrupt the soil.
If all else fails, let a section or two of your garden grow wild! A wildflower garden attracts many pollinators like bees, which are very beneficial to your landscape. If you have the space, consider letting nature take its course. Be sure to take notes on what happens and save them for next year!
Feed Your Plants from Soil to Crown
Many people think only of feeding their flowering buds, but it is important to feed the soil too. Make sure you are taking care of your soil with organic amendments. We recommend ArborChar, a blend of biochar and organic amendments. Biochar is very dynamic and creates an exchange of nutrients in the soil, holds water, adds air, and boosts biology.
On fertilizer packages, you will see three numbers. For example, ArborChar All Purpose Grow says 5-6-4, which means it has 5% nitrogen, 6% phosphorus, and 4% potassium. Test your soil and look for a fertilizer with a blend of these three elements to boost your soil depending on what it needs. Most fertilizer packages will tell you on the label what it is best used for.
Study Up on Water Management Practices
When it gets hot in the spring and summer, it’s especially important to consider proper water management practices. Try growing drought-resistant plantings to withstand warmer temperatures. You can also consider setting up a drip irrigation system and timers to water your plants when you’re unable to. The good thing about using a drip irrigation system is that water goes directly to the plant, and you don’t have to worry about windy conditions spraying water elsewhere.
Mulch and organic matter can also be helpful in properly managing water. Mulch is particularly good for plants like tomatoes. Fungus will sometimes grow on the soil surface, and when you water, will splash up to the leaves of the plant. Use mulch to minimize splashing and protect your plant from harm.
Hygroscopic compounds and humectants are fantastic for reducing the need to water. Humectants like NutriRoot help plants retain water and establish root growth, which is especially good for hanging baskets and containers. This can also help you keep your plants watered when you’re on vacation!
For specific questions on how to craft a successful home garden, our experts are always on hand to help! Connect with us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!