basics of gardening

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Gardening is a common language that knows no national, socioeconomic, or age boundaries — it’s a common thread that binds many of us together.

Please understand, it’s impossible for anyone to cover everything about gardening in a single post. However, if you understand the basics we will discuss here, you will be in a better position to handle just about any challenge gardening can throw at you.

This post will give you the information you need to go out and create a garden, or at least plant something, even if you are a total beginner.

Gardening is not a very complex matter, though many of us might think that way. In our childhood probably most of us have tried gardening by putting some seeds in the soil and later watching them grow. But creating a garden that produces fresh fruits and flowers all season may require a much more professional approach. After reading this blog you might have a clearer view of this.

Gardening is a blend of horticulture and botany, So the naming sometimes can become a bit confusing. So spend time learning common names as well as botanical names of plants. It will help you immensely as you start looking for more exotic plants for your garden.

Why Grow Plants?

Growing plants is more than recreational, it has everlasting benefits. It rejuvenates our minds and souls. gardening has huge learning opportunities for children, adults, and society. It is also rewarding in terms of money and time. Here are 12 amazing benefits of gardening that you must know.

Should I Go For Organic Gardening?

Organic gardening is an obvious choice if you love nature and want to grow naturally. Here for example you will use beneficial insects to control pests and practice regular crop rotation.

Although it may seem a bit expensive when you consider the organic food in the grocery market, organic gardening methods are actually very cheap. hand weeding instead of using chemical weed killers, or using compost made from kitchen scraps doesn’t cost a gardener a dime.

If you practice real organic gardening not only the cost will be low but you be more in touch with mother nature.

What Do Plants Need To Grow?

The needs of plants aren’t weird or complicated, but if you neglect these needs it can only result in trouble for you.

Sun:

Every plant needs light to grow and thrive, but the amount of light varies from plant to plant. Some plants need full sunlight whereas some are comfortable in medium-intensity lights.

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Plants like mushrooms don’t need any light to grow. So no matter whatever the light conditions you have you can grow at least something there.

Some of the clear signs that your plant is getting too much sun are:

  • Flower petals dry out.
  • Leaf edges look burnt or dried.
  • The flower color looks faded or washed out.
  • The plant starts to flag.

If your plant is not getting enough sunlight it will show signs like:

  • Reduced growth.
  • Lanky and spindly stems
  • Lack of Flower buds. And lack of flowers

Water:

There are 3 main reasons why water is essential for your plants:

  • Water is an essential component for photosynthesis to happen. Without photosynthesis, plants can’t grow or develop flowers or fruit.
  • Water keeps the nutrients flowing. From the soil to roots, and through the different parts of their body.
  • The sufficient water pressure within plant tissues creates rigidity, which makes the plant stand up. So without enough water, the plant collapses.

Although natural rainfall is best for your plants, it is difficult to count on and you have to supplement the moisture, a little or a lot.

Too little or too much water both are harmful to your plants. So how do you make sure your garden has the right amount of moisture? just keep an eye on things and pay attention to your plants. Look for these early warning signs like jettisoned flower petals or buds, shrivel leaves, limped roots, etc

Consider your water sources. If they’re not nearby, you will have to figure out a system for transporting water to your garden.

We have a detailed article on how to water a plant read that post for a better understanding.

Nutrients:

Just like you and I, every plant needs a good and constant supply of nutrients to keep them healthy and happy.

The 3 main plant growing nutrients are Nitrogen(N), Phosphorous(P), and Potassium(K). They are also known as NPK in short and are usually mentioned on fertilizer bags.

Now, NPK is not the only nutrient that a plant needs. Some secondary nutrients are also essential for the growth and survival of plants. You can find a full list of all the plant nutrients in this post.

Generally, some amount of plant nutrients are present in the garden soil but this is not always enough to grow a plant. From time to time you have to add nutrients from outside. This is known as fertilizing your plants.

You can either use store-bought or natural fertilizer, such as compost or manure, to fertilize your plants.

Soil:

test your soil

Plants need soil to grow and thrive. It is the main food source for plants in the garden. The soil provides vital nutrients and water and is crucial for the healthy development of the plant. Soil can be of many types and each has its own mix of organic and inorganic materials.

Your garden soil can be sandy, clay, or loamy. And each type has its pros and cons. You can read more about soil types in this post.

Soil pH is also an important factor in gardening. Every soil has its pH level. A lower pH(lower than 7) means the soil is acidic in nature. Whereas anything more than 7 means the soil is alkaline. 7 stands for neutral soil.

Most plants prefer slightly acidic soil for growing however too much acidity or alkalinity can hurt a plant. You can also bring up or bring down the soil pH by adding some additives.

Temperature:

Each plant has there own preference when we talk about the ideal growing temperature. Some are warm-weather plants means they need warm temperatures around them to thrive whereas some are cool-weather plants and cannot tolerate a warmer climate.

Most indoor plants generally do well to normal room temperatures and grow very slowly in winter. Some plants stop growing altogether and go dormant during winters.

Extreme heat or cold can affect plants’ growth. Frost can cause sterility and abortion of formed grains while excessive heat can reduce grain production drastically. You can read the effect of temperature on plant growth in detail in this post.

Humidity:

Humidity presents a separate set of challenges, and plants that can’t deal with higher moisture levels can struggle to process food and ward off disease.

Most plants grow best with a relative humidity of over 50%. Plants only those native to arid regions will tolerate humidity levels below 25%.

In winter when dry home heating robs the air of moisture and creates problems for plants. The best way to solve this problem would be to raise humidity levels using a humidifier.

Another way to increase humidity around the plant is to place the growing pot in a large saucer filled with gravel and water without letting the bottom of the pot sit in the water. As the water evaporates, it increases the surrounding air with moisture.

You can also mist plant leaves with water to increase the humidity around the plant.

Planting:

For planting, first, you need to prepare the bed where you want to sow the seeds. For this, you require soil (or go soil-less) with at least 12 inches of depth. Add ½ inch thick compost. Try checking for weeds. Remove if you found any weed in the soil as it will hamper the growth of the plant.

Moist the bed before planting the seeds rather than after sowing them. If you water too heavily after planting, the seed can get swamped or washed up and out of the soil.

Sow the seeds as per the instructions printed on the packet of the seed (i.e, how far apart to plant, how deep to bury, etc.)

Keep the seedbed moist by sprinkling water till the seeds germinate. In case you have your own plant and nod seeds do transplanting.

Garden Tools

There are some tools that you probably need (and want) to aid you with your gardening. High-quality, well-chosen tools will help you do your work efficiently.

Here are some most common and general tools you likely need for successful gardening.

Shovels and Spades:

Shovels have rounded tip that helps in easy penetration into different soils and materials. Spades have squared edges. It is easy to lift, move, and throw things with the help of a spade.

Shovels and spades made of forged steel are best for doing heavy jobs in the garden.

Trowels:

This tool comes with a pointed, scoop-shaped metal blade and a handle. Trowels are mainly used for breaking up earth and digging small holes for planting.

You can also use them for weeding, mixing in fertilizer or other additives, and transferring plants to pots.

Garden Forks:

They are quite handy and more agile than a spade or shovel for some digging jobs. You can use them for digging up bulbs and root crops, including onions and potatoes.

Garden Hoe:

This ancient and versatile garden tool can help you to shape soil, remove weeds, clear soil, and harvest root crops.

Pruners/Secateurs:

Pruners or secateurs are a very handy tool that covers a lot of gardening cutting jobs. The pruners can be mainly of two types anvil pruners and bypass pruners.

You can use them for cutting branches 13 to 19 millimeters ( 1 ⁄ 2 to 3 ⁄ 4 of an inch) in diameter. Here is some interesting information about pruners.

Wheelbarrows/Carts:

Even in a small garden, wheelbarrows and carts are handy tools, they save your back and reduce the number of trips you make back and forth.

There are other tools like a hose (for watering), gloves, and goggles(safety measures) that are also important parts of gardening.

Protecting Plants:

Gardening is not only about growing plants but you also have to protect them just like your child.

Fencing is one the easiest ways to save your garden crops from larger animals. Depending on the types of animals you want your garden to protect from, the fencing size varies.

For example, a 2 feet high chicken wire might work well for smaller-sized animals but it will definitely not going to work against large animals like cows, deer, etc.

The other part of plant protection is to protect plants from pests and diseases. It includes keeping weeds, pests, and diseases out of the garden.

Garden pests and diseases challenge even the most experienced gardeners. So you need a bit of planning to tackle those issues.

We have a detailed article on how to protect your plants from pests you can read that for more information.

What are Different Zones:

Zoning is really a simple way of describing climate so you can figure out the possibility of growing a plant for that locality. This is particularly helpful for growing exotic plants. The maps are generally updated every few years.

Hardiness refers to how well a plant will survive cold temperatures. Once you understand the hardiness zones, you can choose plants that can survive your local winters.
For example, if you live in Zone 5 then

You should be able to grow any tree, shrub, or perennial labeled “hardy to Zone 5.” You can also grow plants that are labeled farther north, like plants for Zone 4 or 3.

Don’t grow plants that are less cold-hardy, such as Zone 6 or 7. the weather in your area may harm or kill the plant.

Where to Grow Plants:

There are many places where you can grow plants, the choices are practically endless.

For outdoor gardens choose a spot that has enough light, water, nutrients, and good soil. You can plant them directly in the soil, on raised garden beds, or in containers. There are some pros and cons in every option so choose what suits you the best.

  • Direct planting is the easiest and most cost-efficient method but it lacks flexibility and is less productive.
  • Raised beds can be a bit costly to build but they can be very productive.
  • Containers are best for small-sized gardens, as they are portable but fertilizing and watering becomes a crucial job.

You can also grow plants in a community garden if you have very limited space. Gardening doesn’t need to be outside every time. You can grow plants indoors also.

Growing Seasons:

The growing season is the average amount of time per year when the temperature remains suitable for growing plants. Knowing this will be helpful for planting most garden vegetables and many flowers.

The growing season mainly applies to annual plants. If you plan to grow perennials you probably won’t have to bother about this.

Tips for Beginners

Here are some simple tips for a beginner gardener

  • Plan ahead. Before you do any digging, visualize the final picture of your garden.
  • Grow your plants at a place where you’ll see them regularly. Out of sight can be out of mind.
  • Use a good quality soil mix to grow plants.
  • Choose plants that suit your local climate. Don’t go for exotic varieties very early in your journey.
  • If you are transplanting, soak the roots of a new plant before you put it in the soil.
  • Apply a layer of mulch (2-3 inches deep) around each plant. It will reduce weeds and conserve soil moisture.
  • Take an extra minute to write plant labels. it can be easy to forget what you’ve planted and where.
  • Have fun while growing plants. This is the ultimate reason for gardening right?

I hope you enjoyed reading this post. Don’t forget to share it with others.

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