Gardening is a wonderful hobby that can improve your mood and get you a moderate amount of physical activity. It’s also not that hard once you get the hang of things and learn some basics that will get you started. Regardless of if you have a green thumb or not, these useful tips will have all new gardening enthusiasts successfully planting their first crops.
Before you start gardening — declutter your space
The best way to approach gardening is to visualize the space where you will plant your crops. To do so, you need to do some decluttering to gain as much room as you can. But before you start throwing things out, see if you can use them for your garden. For example, an old cart or broken bicycle can be a nice decoration and place to grow your plants at the same time.
Once you cleared out space, start planning your garden by designating zones to certain plants based on their need for sunshine and shade. Some plants may grow better if not directly exposed to the sun, while others may depend on it, like most vegetables and fruits.
Know your soil
Finding out what type of soil you have can help you decide what to grow, as well as how to improve it. There are three main types of soil — loam, clay, and sand which differ in consistency, nutrients, and the way they retain moisture. The best type of soil for gardening is loam since it consists of clay, silt, sand, and organic matter.
Sand is not so great at retaining moisture and nutrients so it requires frequent watering and fertilization. On the other hand, clay drains slowly and compacts easily, so plants will have difficulty to grow roots. You can amend certain properties of your soil with compost, perlite, peat moss, and other ingredients that can improve drainage, enrich it, and loosen it up. To find out what type of soil you have, you can use a test kit from a store or send a sample to the lab.
Start with something easy and simple to grow
Choosing something simple to grow is a perfect way to introduce yourself to the gardening world. Not to mention that successfully growing your first crops may give you a boost to continue with your newfound hobby. Those starting a flower garden can choose from a wide variety of colorful and beautiful plants like hydrangeas and knockout rose.
If you want to grow something edible, cherry tomatoes are a great choice for impatient gardeners since they grow fast. Basil, mint, and rosemary are not only a great addition to meals and beverages, but will also spread aromatic fragrances all over your garden.
Consider keeping a gardening journal
A gardening journal is a useful tool that can help you keep track of your plants and help you improve your methods. This is an especially valuable resource for growing vegetables, herbs, and fruits since you need to pay attention to seeding and harvest periods. Start with a simple notebook and write down information, like what types of plants you have in the garden and what are their challenges to grow.
Having all this information in one place will come in handy next year when you start planning your new garden. You can also add pictures of the plants, especially seed packets, to make it more detailed and organized.
Label your plants
Besides keeping a gardening journal, other ways can help you have an organized garden. Labelling plants from the moments you put seeds in the soil is a good way to know what is where. Even if you have a small garden or growing plants in containers on your balcony, labelling can help you provide better care to your crops.
Labels are easy to make with small wooden sticks, glue, and cardboard paper where you previously wrote the names of your plants. You can also use seed packaging since it contains information on how to tend for the plant and other important details. Just make sure in both cases that you waterproofed the paper to protect it from the weather in the garden.
Try companion planting
Certain plants love to grow in the company of others. It makes them safer from pests, provides more nutrients, and can save you space in the garden. This is called companion planting and it does require some finesse since not all plants like each other’s proximity.
For example, tomatoes don’t like to be too close to rosemary, dill, and beets. But they enjoy the company of basil, carrots, lettuce, spinach, and marigold. Moreover, onions and leeks will repel carrot flies, while leaf-miners will munch on the radish leaves instead of spinach if these plants by one another. Others can offer shade to the roots like squash does to peas and beans and corn offers ideal support for their growing up.
Get the right gardening tools
Every gardener needs basic tools that will help them care for their plants and see them grow healthy. The first step is determining what gardening tools you need, although trowel, gloves, hose, and other basics are a good start. If you are unsure of what tools to get, go to well-equipped vendors, like Hoselink, and consult with their staff.
If you have a small planting area, think about getting pots where you can also grow some of the plants. For example, a horizontal planting technique is an excellent way to expand your garden with pots and not crowd the crops in the soil.
Rotate your crops
It’s not wise to grow the same plants in the same spot each year. This especially applies to vegetables which depend on rotation at least every two years. Rotation of crops helps the soil preserve nutrients each plant needs that would otherwise deplete and ruin the crops.
The easiest way to do this is by four basic groups of plants: root crops, leaf crops, fruit crops, and legumes. Divide your garden based on these groups and rotate their spots clockwise every year. Once you master this method, you can come up with your own adjustments and planting schemes.
Opt for raised beds
Raised beds are always a good choice because they are easy on the knees and back, as well as give you more control over your garden. It’s a great way to bring order into your planting concept and have better access to your crops for weeding and taking care of pests. For the new gardening enthusiast, this is a great introduction to the world of growing crops since it offers practicality and simplicity.
If you are into DIY projects, you can work on building your raised beds from scratch. It could take you a couple of days to finish, but it’s more gratifying than buying one. You can build the ones you want to fit in with the rest of the landscape and at an elevation that is right for you.
Keep weeds out
One of the most annoying tasks in the garden is weeding. Weeds are plants that start growing by your crops stealing their nutrients. So, getting rid of weeds is crucial to keep your crops healthy and thriving. This is something you have to do every week or a few minutes every day to prevent weeds from growing too much and affecting your plants.
While there are some ways to keep weeds at bay with herbicides, they can be harmful so don’t overuse them. Instead, use weeding tools, like the stand-up weeder that will make your job easier.
Don’t plant crops too close
Even though some plants like the companionship of others, every individual seedling needs a certain space to grow properly. Some plants even better grow on their own without any companions in the vicinity. When you seed your garden, always have in mind what the plants will look like when fully grown so you can give them enough space.
If cramped up too close, one plant may hinder the growth of another by stealing its nutrients, disrupting its roots, or stealing the sunlight. It can also deplete soil resources more quickly causing all crops to fail, or just wither and die.
Mulch and compost are good for the soil
Mulch and compost are vital to give nutrients to your crops. However, these two are not the same. If you want a natural weed repellent then you should use mulch in your garden. It’s available in every better garden store and you need to choose the right type for your soil.
Compost, on the other hand, is something you can either buy or make by yourself. It’s an organic compound consisting of leftovers in your kitchen, like eggshells, coffee grounds, and tea bags. You can also add lawn trimmings and leaves, something you will commonly find in your backyard. Using compost can fight diseases and pests, keep the soil moist, and promote the growth of beneficial bacteria.
All in all
As a new gardening enthusiast, you are discovering a magnificent world of growing your food and giving your home more curb appeal. Every beginning is challenging, but with these useful tips, you will master the secrets of gardening quickly and without disappointment. Just remember to be patient and always keep a close eye on the weeds so they don’t steal the spotlight of your crops.