Gardening season is here and 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, especially if you are a beginner gardener, 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. If you are new to starting a garden Here are some of my favorite gardening tips for first-timers:
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. Start small and you can always water later if things dry up!
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 garden soil with a rich compost before planting. Mix it in well with the soil and then put all of your seedlings in. I have also made the mistake of skipping on fertilizer and weeds went wild! Make sure to fertilize and do it before planting!
3. Pay attention to seedling tags or seed packets
Seedling tags and seed packets are there for a reason. 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. These pieces of advice, are so useful for first time gardeners. These informational packets 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. These tips will help you know when to get started planting, whether it is big or small garden. You can always ask about different plants at your local garden center as well!
4. Protect your veggies
They’ll get mowed down quicker than you can say tomatoes. Vegetables gardens can be bountiful and unfortunately 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. Be careful also not to plant your edible plants too soon in the season. Beware of frost and look into the frost date in your area so your plants will be happy and healthy all year long.
5. Prevent weeds or they’ll get out of hand
Experienced gardeners are proactive versus reactive. 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 or 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! Plan your garden ahead of time so it can flourish! Raised garden beds are another great option to help prevent weeds.