Getting Into Gardening? Here Are Helpful Tips Everyone With a Green Thumb Should Know
If you're just getting into gardening, it might surprise you how many things you didn't know about the craft. From types of plants to different water irrigation systems, there are a handful of important things that factor into starting a garden. Whether you're unsure of how moist your soil should be or you're wondering how to properly take care of produce, these tricks of the trade will help you master the art of gardening. Along with your green thumb, these need-to-know tips will make your garden the greenest of them all. Read on to see the most useful gardening facts ahead.
— Additional reporting by Lauren Harano
Your Number One Concern: Your Soil's Health
If the soil in your garden is healthy, then you'll be able to produce tasty fruits and vegetables. As a gardener, having mineral-rich soil should be your top priority.
Opt For Heirloom Seeds
When we go to the grocery store, there is usually only one type of basil, a few types of tomatoes, etc., but in reality, there are infinite varieties of fruits and vegetables. Consider planting heirloom varietals of basil, tomatoes, corn, and more, and you'll be amazed by the vast range of scents, flavors, and textures. Plus, you'll be doing the planet good by increasing biodiversity.
Start With Easy Seeds
Cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, and beets are the easiest veggies to grow first. They are as close to foolproof as gardening gets.
Set Up a Seedlings Station
Squirrels and other pests may dig up and eat seeds before they have a chance to germinate. That's why it's important to plant seed starters. Tomatoes, basil, and nasturtium are the easiest to "start."
How to Conserve Water
Especially during the summer when droughts are almost a given, many farmers and gardeners must work with a deep root irrigation system. This system sends the water directly to the roots so no surface hydration is lost to evaporation. The benefits? You'll end up using only a fourth the amount of water you typically would, and by feeding the roots only, it prevents weeds from growing on the surface of the soil.
Cover Leafy Greens
Though we tend to think leafy greens love the sun, some more delicate greens like lettuce and chard struggle to withstand high heat and must be covered during summer months.
Corn, Squash, and Beans Complement Each Other
Companion planting in the same plot has a myriad of benefits, including choking out weeds, deterring pests, and adding rich nutrients (like nitrogen) to the soil for a more bountiful harvest.
Lavender Is a Natural Pest Controller
Many insects (excluding bees) and deer detest the scent of lavender. Plant it around your garden as a natural pest repellent.
Purslane Is a Weed!
Purslane, a spinach-like green often used in Mediterranean and Mexican cuisines, is actually a weed. However, it's tasty and can be easily incorporated into salads, juices, or used to garnish dishes. You'll often see it at the farmers market on the cheap (and that's because it's a weed!).
Squash Is a Nitrogen Sucker
If your soil has too much nitrogen, plant squash, which sucks up a lot of nitrogen when growing.
Cross-Pollination Can Happen Easily
If your plants ever accidentally cross-pollinate (like two different pepper varietals create a hybrid pepper), simply dig up the cross-pollinated plant and transfer it to a remote location in the garden to prevent further accidental cross-pollination. Save the plant, because you never know if you've discovered a really delicious, rare varietal.