Gardening is one of the most fun and rewarding hobbies out there, but it can be difficult to know where to begin. What to plant, how to properly water and take care of things, how to prevent pests from ruining all your hard work? All these are questions you need to know the answers to before you start. Luckily, this handy little guide is here to get you started out on the right track.
From The Ground Up
Before you plant anything at all, it’s important to make sure you have the right kind of soil. Soil comes in many different types, from dry and sandy to heavy and clay-like, and every plant will have a different kind that they thrive in the most.
If you’re just starting out, it may be best to try gardening in containers, as then you can purchase potting mix which will contain the right nutrients for your plants. When it comes to planting in your own garden, it may be best to first test the soil for its pH, as if the soil is not ideal it may need to be supplemented with fertiliser or mulch.
Water is another essential component if you want a healthy and happy garden, but it can be difficult to know how often to water your plants, and how much water they actually need. As a general rule, watering your garden every 10 to 14 days is fine, especially if you live in a place with regular rain.
It is better to soak the ground once every two weeks than to lightly water the plants every day, as watering the leaves continually is wasteful and may promote disease. Make sure to water as close to the root as possible, and aim to soak the soil a couple of inches down.
Time In The Sun
Plants cannot grow without light from the sun, but just how much they need can vary wildly. Most fruits, veggies and flowers benefit from direct sunlight and some, like sunflowers, just won’t grow without it. With that said, if you have a shadier plot of land then there are several options available for you.
Flowers like foxglove and primrose love having space to rest from the sun, and ferns, grasses and climbers can also flourish in less than ideal conditions. When first planning your garden, take care to figure out the spots that get the least sun and plan accordingly.
Location, Location, Location!
We’ve already talked about how important it is to plan the arrangement of your plants around the available light, but it’s also important to plan the plants around each other! It can be very tempting to plant a whole bunch of plants close together, but whether you pack a flowerbed with just one kind of plant or many different kinds, overcrowding can be harmful.
There are some very specific examples, such as the fact that you should never plant tomatoes near potatoes or asparagus near mint, but in general, you should give your plants lots of space anyway. Crowded plants are more susceptible to disease and need a lot more watering, they may even need extra fertiliser just to ensure there are enough nutrients to go around.
It can be very disappointing to work tirelessly on a beautiful flower garden, only to find weeds sneaking in seemingly wherever you look. It can be tempting to think that a few stray plants won’t damage things overall, but it doesn’t take long for things to get out of hand.
It may seem harsh but, when it comes to weeds, it’s important to be brutal. With moist soil, you can simply pull weeds out of the ground by the root, while dryer soils may need to be hoed. In order to preserve the land once the weeds are gone, it can be effective to cover the ground with straw or mulch, which will keep in the moisture.
Bonus tip! Don’t throw the weeds into the compost heap once you’ve pulled them up. You may end up reseeding them when you spread the compost onto the soil, starting a cycle that could go on forever and cost you a lot of extra work.