Tip #1 – Plan Your Garden!
Whether your garden is big or small, a garden plan is important to its success. Some plants need more sun than others, some grow taller than others and some don’t like growing next to others. Thus, it’s important to learn about the types of plants you wish to grow, and plan where you put each in accordance to the sun, so they will flourish.
Tip #2 – Keep a Garden Diary!
Keeping goods notes about your garden will allow you to compare, contrast and learn how to do better in the future. Things worth noting in your journal include: soil & air temperatures (daily maximums and minimums), weather (especially any unusual occurrences, watering record, planting or transplanting dates, germination dates, harvest dates, descriptions of pests and/or diseases (what? When? How many? Course of Action), Harvest notes (How much?), Soil maintenance (When? What? How much?)
Tip #3 – Increase your Microbes!
While nutrients are important to the health of the soil and plants, more often what our garden’s lack is a health Soil Food Web, especially beneficial microbes. That is why applying compost and compost tea is so essential to a great garden.
Tip #4 – Do a Soil Test!
Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, Calcium, Magnesium—with all these nutrients it’s hard to know what your garden lacks! While taking a variety of soil samples to soil test experts to analyze will provide the most accurate results, for most of us doing an official soil test is too costly… Thus, we can do our best to learn about our own soil by digging a hole in the garden and observing.
Tip #5 – Utilize Companion planting & rotation!
A great way to maximize nutrients in the soil and avoid diseases & pests is by planting in certain combinations and rotating your plants every 2 years or more. Each type of plant requires different combinations and quantities of nutrients, and if a particular crop is planted in the same spot year after year, the required nutrients needed to sustain that type will eventually create a deficiency in the soil and stress to the plant. The more stress on the plant, the more likely unwanted insects will come in search of it. To learn more click here.
Tip #6 – Use mulches!
By hiding the soil from the sun, mulches not only help to retain water, but also inhibit the growth of weeds! Applying mulches will save you hours of time, otherwise spent bent over pulling up weeds. The best mulches, which also protect and supply nutrients to the soil, include straw and bark. But the best mulch can be collected for free—leaves.
Tip # 7 -Water appropriately!
Water is essential to all living things; thus, applying it appropriately is important. Too little water is obviously a problem, but so is too much. Water in the mornings or the evenings before or after the sun reached it’s peak. Learn about how much water your plants require, and when watering, direct the water to the roots, so water filters deep down.
Tip #8 – Catch Rainwater!
Catching rain water in order to water your plants can help you save on your water bill, plus give your plants the best possible water from which to drink. If the water in your area is too salty using it can do your plants harm. Catch rainwater by using a giant cistern, making a pond or by harvesting water directly in your soil by using lots of organic matter (compost) and mulches.
Tip #9 – Don’t Till too deep!
When making new planting beds for the first time, digging deep is essential to aerate the soil and break the roots of weeds. But after that, avoid digging deep! Why? Doing so will disturb the essential life underground that keeps your soil rich and healthy!
Tip #10 – Do it Right the First Time!
If you have a feeling that something could be done better but it requires extra effort, do it! Often in gardening, doing things right the first time will save you a lot of time in the long-run.