Green Thumb Gardening 101: First-time Gardening Tips


A gardeners job is to care for their plants, but not to baby them. As a gardener, your most valuable tool is observation. A good gardener listens to the plants by simply being in their presence. If you live in a temperate climate with moderate rainfall and rich soil, you're in gardening heaven. You can pretty much just throw some seeds on the ground and they will grow. How much do you have to water your lawn to keep it green? If your lawn grass needs restoration your soil could be depleted of nutrients. But, even in the best growing conditions, plants need some help once in a while.

Too Much Love is Bad for Plants

If you are having a tough time keeping your plants alive, there are several things that could be wrong: The soil lacks nutrient; too much rain; a fungus problem; or a pest infestation. The best love for plants is that which comes from nature, itself. The best way to give nature a hand is to feed your plants plant-based compost. Or, as is most common, it could just be a problem of too much love. The most common way first-time gardeners mess up is by giving their plants too much water.

Overall, plants know what they are doing and fare thrive on moderate neglect if the environmental conditions are optimal. Keep in mind that the Earth teams with plant life, naturally-without any help. As the character, Ian Malcolm says in Jurassic Park, "Life finds a way." 

Watering & Drainage

Indoor plants are easy to care for and don't need much attention as long as they are getting what they need. The worst thing you can do for a potted plant is to water it every day. Put down the watering can! That is why drainage is vital for your potted plants' health. If a plant is oversaturated with water the roots develop rot and eventually die. Plants breathe like people do, just a lot more slowly. But, all the same, too much water drowns the plant. The leaves of your plant will start drooping and lose their color. This is a telltale sign that your potted plant needs better drainage.

A common misconception is that potted plants do not need drainage as long as they get a little water every day. Every plant needs drainage-no exceptions. Use pots that come with a drainage basin, so that dirty water doesn't get on your floor. A potted plant needs a soak once every week. Water the plant until it starts to come out the bottom. If your potted soil is very dry, it will have separated from the inner walls of your pot. Before watering, break up the soil around the sides of your pot to fill in the empty space. This keeps the water from running down the sides and out the bottom, without soaking the soil.  For in-ground gardens, the earth provides natural drainage, so there is a risk of your plants not getting enough water in the summer months. In weeks or months of hot, dry weather give your plants a good soak three times a week.

Final Thoughts

Avoid transplanting and watering plants in direct sunlight. The best time to water your plants is at night. If your soil seems dry and sandy it has, likely, been overfarmed in the past. When in doubt, look to the soil. The soil is the gardeners' workshop, whereas the plants are fruits of your labor. And don't be afraid to get your hands dirty! And subscribe to the newsletter for more landscaping and gardening articles. Thanks for reading!

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