I am deep in gardening mode right now since my frost date has come and gone. As I look back on my six year gardening experience, I have screwed up a lot. Um, more than I want to admit. So, recently, I was interviewed by Karen Lee of Green Sisterhood about my essentials musts for not ruining your garden. Be sure to watch the below video as we talk about lots of gardening tips. So, IF I had to narrow down my top five gardening rules, they would be as follows:
#1 Make Sure You Have Enough Sun
Yes, my first garden was in the shade over a decade ago. I couldn’t figure out why my tomatoes wouldn’t grow. Duh? Someone should have given me a V-8. (*Slap forehead*)
Most plants need at least 6 to 8 hours of sun. Leafy vegetables like Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts, and lettuce will tolerate the most shade. To be honest, I find that they grow so much slower without sun.
#2 Know Your Frost Dates
I know so many gardeners who get anxious and plant tender annuals such as tomatoes, peppers, etc before frost date. And guess what? One late spring frost can severely damage your crops. This year, we had a frost on Mother’s Day. (Yes, Mother’s Day.) I couldn’t believe it since it is generally nearing frost date in my area.
I put in my tomatoes, peppers, and basil (which is not like me) thinking I was okay. Well, wouldn’t you know it. We had a very cold snap and despite my heavy duty row covers, everyone suffered, especially the basil.
So when should you plant? Most seed packages provide instructions on when to plant, whether it is before frost date or after. Often time, the companies will recommend you should wait two weeks after your frost date to plant certain plants like melon which need the warm soil to germinate. In the past, I waited to plant everything including my tomatoes two weeks after frost date. Believe, me, the plants catch up especially when it is warm. See here for a good planting schedule.
#3 What Kind of Soil Do You Have?
Figure out what kind of soil that you have; otherwise, you will kill your plants. Why? According to Colleen Vanderlinden,
“One of the most basic characteristics of soil is its composition. In general, soils are classified as clay soils, sandy soils, or loamy soils.Clay is nutrient rich, but slow draining. Sand is quick draining, but has trouble retaining nutrients and moisture. Loam is generally considered to be ideal soil because it retains moisture and nutrients but doesn’t stay soggy.”
My soil is mostly clay and, it drains horribly. Most plant roots don’t like to be kept wet. I built easy peezy raised beds to avoid killing my plants. Colleen explains how to easily figure out what type of soil you have.
#4 What’s Your Soil Missing?
It is very important that you know what elements are missing in your soil. Take several soil samples throughout your garden, and have them tested. The report will tell you the Ph of the soil as well as what kind of fertilizer you will need for your plants to prosper. Local US county extensions offer soil testing kits. See here for Canadian sources.
#5 Don’t Plant Your Plants too Close
I can’t tell you how many people plant tomato plants side by side and wonder why their plants die. Plants need room to grow; otherwise they will become weak and pests will attack. Read here on how to space your vegetables . In addition, most seed packages will specify the spacing.
If you want to be industrious, you can also, use the square foot gardening method which spaces the plants closer. (I am trying this method this year. *Fingers crossed*)
Join the Conversation:
- What are your top gardening tips?
- What has been your biggest screw up?