What are the basics of gardening?

gardening flowers

Gardening is a very rewarding hobby that can make a positive difference in your life, both mentally and physically. Like most things in existence, starting might seem difficult and complicated. For this reason, the below tips and tricks might help get you started by answering the question: What are the basics of gardening?

1.      Location

The first thing to consider is location. A suggestion is that the location of your garden is somewhere that you can access easily and that you will see regularly. The last thing you want is to start a gardening project, only to forget about it and lose all your work.

2.      Sunlight

The movement of the sun and sunlight across the chosen location is very important. It makes sense to analyse sun patterns across your garden to understand what can or cannot grow in your chosen area. Keep in mind that many fruits and vegetables need around 8 hours of direct sunlight every day to grow strong and healthy.

3.      Water availability

You should also make sure that water is easily accessible. Watering your plants is very important for their growth and in an ideal situation, you have easily reachable water. I also suggest the use of a garden hose along with a nozzle sprayer. This greatly facilitates the watering process, especially in areas of the garden which are less accessible. To determine if it is time to water your garden, push your finger a few centimetres into the soil. If it is dry, then it is time to water your plant and garden.

4.      Soil

The soil you use will vary depending on whether you are planting into the ground, in raised beds or into pots. There are many guides to assist in choosing the right type of soil, which ideally is full of nutrients and drains well. I suggest you start by following a guide to soils and potting mixes.

5.      Space and use of pots

When looking at the basics of gardening, many people will realise that they do not have the luxury of a large garden or a lot of space for planting. Nonetheless, gardening using pots and containers can be very fulfilling. Sometimes, I believe that gardening in pots and containers is even better, as one can protect plants better and move them around to make full use of sunlight. You can grow a variety of plants in containers, including vegetables, herbs, flowers and fruit. When gardening using pots, make sure the container selected is large enough for the plant it’s accommodating. When watering plants in pots, I find it best to water plants when dry and then let extra water flow through the bottom drain holes, allowing the plant to keep only the water it needs.

6.      Selecting the right type of plants

Not all plants grow equally well in every climate. Your weather, temperature and availability of sun are all important elements when considering the type of plants to grow. Certain plants, especially fruit and vegetables, might need more direct sunlight, for example. Also, consider that certain plants need lots of space to grow vines. At a beginner stage, you might wish to start by buying mature plants or seedlings and avoid growing from seeds. This will give you a better chance of success and allow you to focus on other basics of gardening.

7.      Hardiness Zones

It is also important for you to understand your climate and hardiness zone, if applicable. Your zone number, developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), lets you know which plants will do best in your climate. Whilst this is not part of the basics of gardening for everyone, it is very important if you live in the United States.

8.      Timing

Planting outdoors requires also careful consideration of time of year, expected weather and potential climate in a particular time. Planting too early can kill plants, as well as a very cold period. During cold times, some people opt to put their plants inside where it is warmer and where temperature can be controlled better.

9.      Mulch

Mulch is used to preserve moisture in the soil, control weeds, maintain a cool soil temperature, and also for aesthetic reasons. Organic mulches can improve the soil’s drainage and nutrient-holding ability.

10.  Feeding

For plants to survive and grow, they need proper feeding. Apart from water, you may wish to add some nutrients and fertilizers to help development. I use Miracle-Gro plant food once every two weeks, and usually in the warmer parts of the year, from early spring to late summer.

11.  Gardening Tools

Gardening is not an expensive hobby. Nonetheless, certain tools are recommended to have when practising gardening. These can include:

  1. hand trowel
  2. pruning shears
  3. gardening gloves
  4. spade
  5. fork
  6. shovel
  7. rake

12.  Be Gentle

If you remove new plants from their containers by pulling, you might inadvertently damage them. An alternative is to squeeze the pot and turn it upside-down very slowly. Be ready at this stage to grab the plant as it slides out. Be very careful, especially with young plants or seedlings, as they can be damaged very easily.

13.  Design

If you have no problem with space, then you might wish to use one of the many software programmes available to plan your garden and make full use of each plant’s benefits by practising organic gardening and learning about plant and vegetable companions.

14.  Watering roots

When planting a plant in a new pot or container, you need to ensure that the size of the pot is large enough. Secondly, when planting, make sure that the roots are well watered along with the container having good drainage. Ensure the plant’s root ball is comfortable in its new container.

15.  Labelling

Funnily enough, a common problem for gardeners is forgetting what plants have been planted and where. This is especially true for seeds or seedlings. For this reason, try using labels next to each plant, seed or bulb for easier identification.

16.  Have fun

Last but not least, enjoy gardening. Gardening requires patience and dedication. Always learn from mistakes, and do not be afraid to experiment. If you feel that a plant or flower is not growing well in a particular location, try moving it into a different spot with more or less sunlight, or vary its watering patterns. Happy Gardening!

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