Green Gardening Tips: Managing your Garden
Green Tips | May 14, 2020
Setting up a garden can be hard work. Don’t let your effort go to waste by not properly maintaining what you’ve created! This week’s Green Gardening Tips will help you manage your garden throughout the spring and summer months.
Create a Routine
Gardening can become a chore if maintenance tasks pile up. Create a weekly routine by planning which days to weed, water, prune, and/or perform other general upkeep. To avoid the hottest time of day, try working in the garden during the morning or evening.
Depending on rainfall and the types of plants in your garden, watering is usually only necessary once or twice a week. It’s best to water plants in the morning or in the evening when it’s cooler and sunlight is less intense. This will prevent evaporation before your plants can uptake the water. Also, move any container plants out of direct sunlight to prevent the soil from drying out, and reduce the need to constantly water. When watering, water the soil—not the leaves and heads of plants. This prevents mold growth.
Weeds & Mulch
Consider using mulch to suppress weed growth and maintain soil moisture. Finely shredded mulch will eventually break down and amend the soil. Untreated grass clippings, shredded dried leaves, or thin cardboard also works well. Avoid packing mulch material too close to plant stems. Chemical weed killers are not recommended. Homemade recipes usually call for dish soap, vinegar, or epsom salt, all of which can also affect soil health. Instead, set aside time (one or two days per week) to pull weeds or use a hand trowel to remove deep weed roots from within the soil.
Compost & Fertilizer
Nutrient rich compost reduces the need for chemical fertilizers. As early in the season as possible, in the middle of the season, and towards the end of the season, add an inch-thick layer of compost to your garden and carefully turn the soil to incorporate between plants. Work the top soil and be mindful not to damage plant roots. Like the mulch, avoid spreading compost too close to plant stems. Another easy way to incorporate compost is to add a layer of it on top of the soil, and over time, compost will make its way into the ground through watering.
Pests can wreak havoc on a garden. Each pest is unique and may require a different course of action. Don’t be too quick to reach for a chemical pesticide. Chemical pesticides can eradicate helpful “pests” from your garden, such as spiders, lady bugs, and lacewings that feed on the larvae of harmful pests. Chemical pesticides are also harmful to pollinators and human health. Consider these alternative solutions:
- Keep the perimeter of your garden free of debris, such as fallen fruit from nearby trees.
- Plant a variety of plants. Variety can sometimes prevent a swarm of pests that like a particular plant species.
- Use diatomaceous earth, a natural and pollinator-friendly pesticide. (Use precautions to prevent inhaling diatomaceous earth). Compost is another all natural solution that strengthens plants to better resist pests.
- Manage weeds regularly to prevent pests from breeding in your garden.
- Consider placing traps to capture and remove specific types of pests.
Pruning helps plants get proper nutrition and stay healthy through the removal of certain parts of the organism. It can also encourage flowering and fruit production. Knowing when to prune is key. Remember the four Ds: dead, damaged, dying, or disease. Any parts of the plant that display any of the four Ds should be removed with gardening shears. Here are two techniques:
- To remove an unhealthy branch or part of the plant and encourage regrowth, cut just above the bud.
- To remove an unhealthy branch or part of the plant and prevent regrowth, cut the part off completely leaving no visible buds.
We hope you found our Green Gardening Tips helpful! Stay tuned later in the season for Green Tips about harvesting your garden. Tag us on Facebook to share with us any Green Tips you’ve implemented in your garden!
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