So you've never gardened before, but you see all these lovely treasures in your Facebook feed! Do you want it? Have no fear! You can join them with these simple tips for the beginner gardener. This easy-to-follow guide will give you the tools necessary to make your dreams a reality! So follow along and allow us to join you on your journey!
Tip 1 - The Sun is Your Friend
The most common mistake made by beginner gardeners is misjudging the route of the sunlight across their yard. Your best bet to protect against this error is to spend a day tracking the shadows across your yard. You may even choose the stake out the area and then decide on the placement of the new gardens/flower beds. Remember, most plants require a minimum of 6 hours of direct sunlight a day to thrive.
Tip 2 - Water, Your Gardens Ambrosia
Beginner gardeners should remember that after the sun, moisture is the most vital element to your garden. Always locate your new garden/flowerbed within hose reach, or you'll see that watering by hand is very tedious and labour intensive. You'll soon realize how much of a necessity a hose with an adjustable nozzle is to your setup. There are things like mulch that will require less frequent watering, but the easiest way to tell if it's time to give your plants a drink is to stick your finger into the soil approximately an inch, just above your first knuckle. If it's dry, it's time to give your plants a drink.
Tip 3 - Location, Location, Location!
A Garden, like Real Estate, is all about Location! Knowing where your sun will track will ensure a great starting point. Start small, but allow yourself room to expand in the future as you undoubtedly will! Build-in an open area that will regularly catch your attention. Doing so will you enticed to spend more time in it. Remember, the adage Out of Sight, Out of Mind can wreak havoc on the health of your garden!
Tip 4 - The Right Tools For The Job
Having the right tools for the job is vital when you're gardening. The essentials include but aren't limited to the following; Gloves, Hand Trowel, Spade, Hoe, Rake and a Garden Hose with an Adjustable Nozzle. These items will get the job done for the average gardener. However, as you progress, options include; Pruning Shears, Loppers, Garden Fork, Water Wand, Watering Can and a Wheel Barrow. If you find yourself digging your garden yourself, an edger and rototiller are two excellent options for cutting it in and working the soil.
Tip 5 - Make Your Soil Great! Again!
Once you've cut in your new garden, it's time to give due consideration to the quality of your soil. If you have the ability, you should consider investing in nutrient-rich and well-drained soil. Ideally, you would add 15-20cm of 3 or 4 way mix from a quality soil provider. After considering your drainage, a couple of other choices include landscaping fabric under the garden and edging around the perimeter to keep the weeds and grass from creeping back in.
Tip 6 - Short on Space? Containers or Raised Bed!
If you're like a lot of folks living in an apartment or a rental house and you still want to get on the gardening bandwagon, consider trying container gardening or raised beds if you have the use of a yard. You can grow vegetables, fruit, flowers, trees, berries and shrubs in containers and raised beds as long as you make sure the medium is deep enough for the items planted.
Tip 7 - Know Your Zone!
An error the average Beginner Gardener makes is planting too early or late in the season, which can have a devastating effect on your garden. You can use our guide to Knowing Your Zone! to figure out what your growing zone is and the Government of Canada Website to Find Your Average Frost Dates. Don't forget the numbers obtained are only the averages for Spring and Fall. Don't forget to keep an eye on your local forecast just in case you have an unseasonably cool spring or fall.
Tip 8 - Choosing The Right Plants
When deciding what to plant, only plant what you intend to consume or use in some fashion. Always select items that are hardened and capable of growing and surviving in your growing zone. Always be sure to do your homework and talk to other local gardeners about varieties that do the best in your area, but be prepared for a long chat because we love sharing what we've learnt. Remember, you can start your plants from seed inside or out, but you can also purchase more mature transplants from your local nursery, albeit at a much higher price.
Tip 9 - Mulch Makes Your Life Easier
Mulch is a vital addition to any garden that offers several benefits, including weed reduction, moisture retention and makes your garden more aesthetically pleasing depending on your choice in medium. Applying a layer of mulch a mere 5-8cm deep can cut your workload in your garden by as much as 70%. Options for mulch medium can vary from store-bought bagged mulch, wood chips, straw, leaves, pine needs and other locally sourced materials. You can find out more about Mulching Options here.
Tip 10 - Plants Get Hungry Too
Making sure you have nutrient-rich and high organic matter content in your soil is a great start. However, your plants will still require regular boosts of nutrients to maximize your yields through the growing season. Always fertilize your soil before planting and then feed your plants monthly after germination. You can find more information on Fertilizing Your Crops here.
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