I really have a passion for gardening and enjoy tending to it. In fact, I tend to get lost when I am out there pulling the weeds, trimming the plants, and pulling the harvest. I would definitely say it is my happy place and one where I escape.
I have found a few simple tips over the years that have helped contribute to my gardens success. Getting a garden started is one thing, but keeping it alive, healthy, organic, and beautiful is another. Here are a few simple tips to help your plants thrive!
Water in the very early morning or in the early evening after the heat of the day has passed, but there is still some sun to dry the leaves and prevent rotting or mildew. After transplanting your seedlings, give them ALOT of water so that it reaches the roots. Speaking of roots, when planting your seedlings, make sure that your roots are loose and free before placing into the soil as shown below.
The picture on the left depicts a plant that has become root bound in its original container. It has sat in its original pot for too long and has needed to be transplanted. Therefore, the roots start to grow around themselves, because they have nowhere to go.
Before placing a seedling into the soil, you can gently loosen the roots with your fingers or even cut some of the root if it is badly root bound. You want the roots to be able to roam freely and reach and grab for the new soil. Be very gentle with a seedling when transplanting as they are going through shock adapting to their new environment.
To help the seedling prosper in the new environment, when loosening the root, do it over the new spot where the plant will be placed. It will be soothing for the plant to have some of its old soil in its fresh new environment. Another tip for preventing transplant shock is to water the soil BEFORE you place the seedlings. You want to keep the new environment as comfortable as possible for the new plant. Watering the soil before will also give you a better idea of how filled your beds really are and if you need to add more soil or not. I would recommend watering the entre garden, just the soil, the day before planting the seedlings.
You want to be sure your soil has good drainage, which is much easier to control in a raised bed. It is hard to judge how much to water, although the recommendation is about one inch per week. I think that it takes time to develop the proper judgement on how much your plants truly need. And some plants need more water then others! For example, lettuce will tend to wilt in heat and needs more water. Preferably it needs some shade as well. Tomatoes also love a lot of water! Herbs don’t need as much. I tend to water every day after transplanting seedlings for the first week or so, and then every other day after that.
Continue to give your garden organic nutrients and natural insecticides from your kitchen. I don’t have a large compost pile yet but hope to have one by the end of the summer. It is easy however to use common kitchen items to feed your garden. You can even use these items in your houseplants! My favorites are coffee grinds, banana peels, and eggshells. Collect them in a container on your kitchen counter. Cover with a lid with holes as you want to allow some air in. Mix every few days and spread it throughout your garden!
The banana peel is an effective deterrent for aphids, a common garden insect that loves to feast in your garden. The best method is to cut them up in chunks and deposit them about one to two inches below the soil so squirrels and others pests can’t steal them. The coffee grinds will deliver phosphorous, potassium, and magnesium. Don’t overdo it with the grinds though as they can raise the acidic levels in your soil. I use about 4 TBS of grinds maybe twice a month.
Crushed eggshells will deter slugs, cutworms, and other insects who are actually repelled by the crunch of the eggshell under their feet. Eggs also break down quickly and give your plants a much-needed dose of calcium, which can help with bottom-end rot, a calcium deficiency found in some plants. When planting your tomato plants, put some crushed eggshells at the roots to fend off rot. I have been using them for years in my houseplants too!
Good luck and Happy Gardening!