Nobody wants to put time and effort into a project, only to see it flop and fail miserably. Gardening is certainly no exception to this! When you spend the money on seeds or plants you want to see them grow well and flourish. In order for that to happen it's necessary to remember some key things that will help your garden take off.
Simply put, garden plants need nutrients, sunlight and water to grow. They also need to be kept pest and disease free. These 9 great tips take all of that into account and will help your garden look its best, while yielding a great harvest!
1. Liquid compost
Compost is a great source of organic matter and nutrients for your garden plants. Instead of keeping a compost pile in your yard for a fresh source, you can cheat and give your plants a quick boost using kitchen scraps. Puree food scraps with water and work into the soil around plants for the best results.
2. Epsom salt as fertilizer
Epsom salt is a great source of calcium and magnesium, both essential for plant growth. To keep your tomatoes healthy and to prevent blossom end rot in the fruit mix a tablespoon of epsom salt into the soil at the bottom of the hole (do not put plants in direct contact with it) before planting.
3. Mulch around plants
Covering the soil around plants with a layer of mulch will help increase water retention, reduce soil erosion, and keep weeds down between plants. You can use bark chips, pine needles, straw or even grass clippings. Just make sure to keep the mulch from touching the stems of your plants.
4. Newspaper for weed block
For extra weed control, spread a layer of newspaper across the soil before laying down mulch. This will help smother out any weed seedlings that do germinate. The newspaper will break down over the course of the season and can be worked into the soil in the fall. According to the Permaculture Research Institute, most newspapers are printed using a soy-based ink that is completely safe for the garden.
5. Protect tender plants
To give vegetables such as tomatoes and peppers enough time to grow strong plants and bear bountiful fruit, many gardeners try to get them planted as soon as the soil temperatures allow. This means though that early in the season they are susceptible to chilly night time temps. Protect these tender plants by creating individual hot houses with milk jugs. Cut the bottom off of clean jugs and place over the plants, pushing the plastic down into the soil slightly to keep it in place.
6. Creative seedling pots
Save yourself some money, while simultaneously adding some nutrients to the soil by growing your seedlings in creative seedling pots. Citrus peels make a great pot for seeds and the whole thing can be transplanted directly into the soil. Over time it will break down to feed the plants as they grow.
7. Prevent pest problems
Instead of tackling a slug and snail problem after it occurs, spend a little time and effort to prevent the pests instead. Crush eggshells into small pieces and spread around the base of plants to keep slugs and snails from bothering them. The sharp edges keep them from getting too close and causing damage.
8. Encourage bees
Nobody likes to nurse a bee sting, but the truth is, per Bees Matter, is 1 in 3 bites of food we consume is only possible due to bees pollinating plants. Encourage the population of honey bees in your garden by growing plants that are good food sources for them -- flowering ornamentals, wild flowers, berries, fruit trees -- and try to avoid killing them, allowing them to buzz around undisturbed.
9. Work the soil
While we only see the part of the plant that is above ground, what is below the soil surface is just as important, if not more so, for good plant growth. Working the soil prior to planting, and even periodically during the growing season, will increase soil aeration and water penetration, and break up any big clods allowing the roots to grow easily outward.