Gardening can be an amazing adventure. Watching those tiny seeds sprout into thriving plants could be considered its own reward for your time, patience and persistence, but enjoying the spoils of victory definitely takes the experience up a few notches. Having said that, few things are more disheartening than watching helplessly as a garden wastes away in spite of your best efforts. Certain measures go a long way toward making sure your hard work pays off like it should.
Enrich the Soil
Veggies need certain nutrients to thrive and produce, mainly nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Using a quality fertilizer or nutrient-rich solution and the right grow equipment helps ensure those plants stay strong and healthy. In most cases, nutrients should be tilled into the soil or added to the growing medium before planting and reinforced at various times throughout the season.
Seasoned gardeners advise against placing fertilizer directly on plants for the most part; instead, those follow-up feedings should be applied around roots. Also keep in mind not all plants have the same nutritional needs.
Green beans, for example, produce their own nitrogen, so they need fertilizers offering more potassium and phosphorus. Since other types of produce require higher levels of nitrogen, alternating rows of green beans and other veggies could help optimize crop health as well as diversity.
Plant pathogens are all too common, and a single infection could quickly lead to the demise of an entire garden. Bacteria, mold, fungus and other harmful elements can live in soil and be spread by sick plants. Some need dry conditions to survive whereas others require high levels of moisture.
According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, any plants showing signs of disease should be removed from a garden along with their roots and destroyed. Never place infected plants in a compost pile because this will reintroduce the pathogen to other plants when applied to the garden.
When looking for seedlings for your garden, it’s a good idea to go over them with a fine-tooth comb before bringing them home. Any plants with dark spots; white, powdery growths; darkened roots; insects or other unhealthy symptoms should be left behind.
We all want to get as much out of our gardens as possible, but packing in too many plants is sure to hamper growth. Research the veggies you’re going to plant to better understand just how much growing room each one needs. Though some seeds should be planted fairly thickly to ensure optimum germination, they’ll most likely need to thinned out once they start to sprout.
Keep Pests out of the Picture
While diseases are notorious problems, nothing sucks the life out of a garden quite as quickly and efficiently as pests. Chemical pesticides certainly serve their purposes, but a number of gardeners are veering away from these potentially dangerous agents. If you fall into this category, you do have other options; in fact, some plants naturally provide protection for their fellow garden mates.
Garlic: Garlic adds an extra element of flavor to an endless array of savory dishes. It also has the power to stave off carrot root fly, maggots, snails, certain types of beetles and other undesirables.
Dill: Dill can drive away aphids while drawing hornworms, hoverflies and certain caterpillars away from other garden plants.
Basil: This particular herb produces oils known to keep flies, thrips and mosquitoes at bay. Some also say it enhances the size and flavor of tomatoes when planted in close proximity.
Sunflowers: When planted around the perimeter of a garden, sunflowers can draw aphids, ants and other plant-killing insects away from herbs and veggies. You could also harvest their seeds for a tasty treat.
These are only a few of the common natural alternatives to pesticides. USA Today recently published a much more in-depth list of garden additions known to be effective against plant predators. Many of them are items you might want to have in your edible arsenal anyway. When it comes to certain furry pests, though, the most effective safeguard might be to move the garden indoors.
Water the Right Way
Plants need water to survive, but we all know what they say about too much of a good thing. Excess moisture can lead to root rot and encourage fungus and disease growth. Ground-based soaker or drip systems tend to be the best options, but traditional methods aren’t frowned upon as long as they’re used in moderation. Try to distribute water around the bases of plants rather than directly on their leaves.
All Things Considered
Gardens do require a good bit of attention and upkeep, but having a nice supply of fresh, healthy veggies is well worth the effort. Give them the nourishment they need and plenty of room to grow. Know the signs of diseases so you can keep them at bay, and don’t let pests run amok. In the end, you’ll have lush, vibrant plants laden with ample produce to enjoy.
What are your favorite healthy gardening tips?
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