Whether you’re growing vegetables or flowers, your garden requires constant care. Part of this care is making sure your garden is healthy. Fortunately, there are many ways you can look after the health of your garden and work to improve it.
Buy Better Soil
Some areas might already have quality soil, but in most cases it’s best to buy some better soil for you to work with. Your soil has a major impact on your plants, so you need to make sure you find the best kind. One thing to look for as you’re buying new soil is the amount of organic material in the soil. This includes any plant or animal tissue existing in the soil that will contain nutrients and help aerate the soil. It’s also important to look at the pH level of the soil. Some plants may have specific needs, but a majority will do well in neutral soil. In addition to purchasing good soil, there are also ways you can improve your soil while your plants are growing. Avoid digging too much or stepping on the soil, which compacts it. You can also continually add compost to your soil to maintain the nutrients in it.
Don’t Under or Over Water
Water is essential for plants to grow, but you need to find a good balance for how much to water your plants. The good thing is, there are clear signs of over and under watering. Knowing these signs can help you be more aware of your plants’ needs. If a plant is underwatered, the leaves will begin to droop and eventually drop. These leaves will also be completely dried out and brittle. Underwatered plants will also be surrounded by very dry soil. Overwatered plants on the other hand, will have very soggy soil. The excess moisture can even lead to certain pests as well as the development of mold, algae, fungus, etc. Overwatered plants will also have drooping leaves, but these will just be limp and the stems may even sag.
Resist the Use of Pesticides
Using pesticides is often the go to method for repelling insects and other pests from your garden. However, pesticides can actually deteriorate the environment around the garden, and they can be harmful to the plants, animals, and even you. For the sake of your plants and your garden’s longevity, resist the urge to use pesticides. Instead, explore different alternatives to pesticides. There are many sprays you can make including vegetable oil spray and soap spray that help to deter pests. You can even use certain foods such as garlic as a deterrent. If you don’t want to be constantly spraying, consider using diatomaceous earth as a natural pesticide. This powdery like substance is extremely dry and it actually dehydrates insects. You simply sprinkle it on and around your plants and then reapply after it rains.
Mulching your garden beds is an important step to protect your garden in many ways. Using mulch helps to stabilize your garden beds by covering the topsoil. This prevents that top layer from eroding away. Mulch also helps to maintain the amount of moisture in your soil by reducing water loss and it can even help to regulate the temperature of the soil. Laying mulch is one way to prevent weeds in a garden. The mulch keeps the sunlight from reaching the soil so weeds can’t grow. It’s recommended that you mulch about twice every year and you should try to maintain three inches of mulch in each bed.
As mentioned, providing quality soil and maintaining it is very important. Composting is one of the primary ways you can improve your soil. When you compost, you allow organic materials to decompose and eventually they become a wonderful fertilizer for your plants. If you want to compost, you need to know what goes into composting. Common ingredients include grass clippings, food scraps, and even manure. You can also use many other ingredients like twine made from natural fibers or wine corks. However, these materials will take longer so you need to keep an eye on them. In fact, you should regularly monitor all your composting because if materials aren’t fully decomposed, they can reintroduce diseases to your plants.
Space Out Your Plants
When planting your garden, make sure you allow adequate space for every plant. If plants are too crowded, it can increase the humidity and lead to diseases, mold, fungus, etc. to develop amongst your plants. Similarly, plants that are too close together will compete for nutrients, sunlight, and water. This will cause them to grow poorly. To avoid crowding, make sure you are aware of how big your plants will grow. This will help you inform your planting decisions. If you are transplanting, make sure there is plenty of space available before you move your plant.
Prune and Deadhead
No matter how much you care for your garden, you will still have some dead plants or plant parts. It’s important to stay on top of pruning and deadheading your plants. If you don’t then the healthy parts of your plants can be impeded. You also need to regularly clear away dead leaves, flowers, etc. as they fall. Doing so will reduce moisture being trapped around the debris and you won’t need to worry about any diseases taking hold.
Clear Your Garden in Fall
For the benefit of your garden, you need to clean up in the fall. This includes removing dead plants, weeding, cutting back certain plants, and even making preparations to protect your winter crops. When cleaning up in the fall, you can also be thoughtful of natural processes. For example, leaving leaves raked into a pile instead of throwing them away can provide a habitat for pollinators over the winter.
While a lot of things are left to chance, you have a great deal of control over your garden’s health. Constantly maintaining your garden can help you identify any issues and take steps to protect your plants. Make sure you know what your garden needs in order to thrive.