So I’ll be straight with you. I’m no gardening expert—but I do love trying my hand at growing fruits and veggies in my own garden every summer. It’s fun to see what takes off and what doesn’t. I always learn so much from year to year. I know it can be a little intimidating to get started, but you have to dive right in and hope for the best. You’re going to win some, you’re going to lose some. Even through no fault of your own! Weather can be fickle. It can rain too much. Or it can be too hot. You can’t control everything. Here are some of my favorite gardening tips:
1. Too much of anything is never good

More good stuff is always better right? Well not when it comes to water. Overwatering can actually kill growing plants and it’s very hard to try to salvage them. A sign that you might be overwatering is if the leaves of your plant start to turn yellow. Basically you should only be watering the plants if the soil down near the roots is dry. Stick a finger into the dirt to check. And if you’re going to water your garden in the summer do it in the morning so it has a chance to soak in and won’t just evaporate in the hot afternoon temps.

 

2. Be careful if fertilizing

I made the mistake of sprinkling an organic fertilizer after my plants were in the ground and it mutated my cucumbers. A good rule of thumb is to prep your soil with a rich compost before planting. Mix it in well with the soil and then put all of your seedlings in.

3. Pay attention to seedling tags or seed packets

They’re helpful and contain so much information you need, like when it’s usually safe to plant and how much sunlight each fruit or veggie needs. It will also tell you if the seed is a direct sow (plant it right in the ground) or a transplant (which needs to be started inside). At this point if you want to grow something that needs to be transplanted go buy seedlings at your local nursery. The seeds would have needed to have been started by now.

4. Protect your veggies

They’ll get mowed down quicker than you can say tomatoes. Deer can obliterate your garden in one evening so do whatever is necessary to protect your garden from veg-loving predators. I’ve found that using some well placed chicken wire over my garden really helps. I have friends who swear by predator repelling sprays as well.

5. Prevent weeds or they’ll get out of hand

Some people swear by those sheets of plastic-y sheeting that they lay on the ground to prevent weeds. Honestly, I’ve never had luck with them. But here’s what has worked for me. Newspaper. Before I put down my topsoil and compost I spread multiple layers of newspaper on the ground of my garden. It helps keep weeds at bay and I only have to pull a  few here are there. It’s the best. Also, check your soil for earthworms. If you’re digging and see a bunch of them it’s a sign of healthy soil!