7 Laws of Gardening: Time-Tested Tips For Growing a Successful Garden
by Tess Pennington
We all have the best of intentions in the beginning of summer. We plan on spending the season growing a beautiful lush garden. As the summer drags on, avoiding the heat becomes the top priority. From the neglect, your garden suffers. The plants may not be thriving, there may be bug infestations, or root rot. Inevitably, if there are enough issues, you give up altogether and call it a summer.
What you may not realize is there are laws that you must follow to ensure your plants have the best environment to thrive in. These gardening laws are essential in giving your plants a fighting chance at giving you a big harvest.
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7 Laws For Successful Gardening
1. Start with good quality seeds. Seed quality plays an important role in a successful garden. As such, it is important to know seed characteristics such as trueness to variety, germination percentage, purity, vigor, and appearance are important to farmers planting crops and to homeowners establishing lawns and gardens. Further, growing heirloom seed varieties will ensure you can collect the seeds for subsequent harvests.
2. Feed the soil. Your plants need nutrients in order to grow healthy and produce fruit and vegetables. Ensuring they have these present in the soil will save you time and money on fertilizer.
I love incorporating the lasagna-style or sheet mulch gardening with the square foot gardening method. This is the best opportunity to introduce compostables to the soil. Composting is a great way to provide some added nutrients and condition the soil. Fertilizers will give the plants just what they need to produce healthy fruit. Building your own composter can help you make use of any organic materials, as well as getting onto the journey to self-sufficiency. I also add soil amenders to make my soil really healthy. Some of the amenders I use are:
You can purchase these items at a garden store, online or find a local source on Craigslist. I recently purchased 60 pounds of earthworm castings for twenty-five dollars. Not a bad deal, if you ask me.
3. Balance the amount of sunlight with the ideal temperatures. Who knew gardening was a balancing act. But in order to get a good harvest, you have to balance the amount of sunlight your plants get with the ideal temperature. If your garden or patio area receives full sun all day long, it can wreak havoc on your gardening endeavors. Keep in mind that plants need at least six to eight hours of sunlight to grow to their maximum potential. That said, the temperature plays a key role in plant health. Keeping plants between 70-90 degrees F will help the plants grow to their potential.
Transplants especially will benefit from shade cloth. There are different percentages of shade cloth ranging from 25% – 70% or more. This will allow you to block out the heat from the sun and help the plants thrive. All you need to do is drape the cloth over a support structure. Many gardeners use ladders, PVC hoop-style structures, or purchase products specifically manufactured to support shade cloth. Here are plans to build a shape canopy for the garden using PVC pipe. Read more here.
4. Regular waterings will prevent plant stress. Having an irrigation system in place with a timer will be less work for you and will ensure your plants are getting a balanced amount of moisture at each watering. This also will help you not over-water your plants which can be just as bad as not watering at all.
5. Protect the roots with mulch. Mulching the roots is a trade secret many successful gardeners use to protect the plant’s delicate root structures and prevent weeds from growing. You can use fallen leaves, straw, wood chips or newspaper to shade the roots. This will keep the roots moist and not stress out the plant during the warmest parts of the day. As well, the natural mulch will compost down over time and help your soil in the process.
6. Talk to your plants. I know that I’m going to get some comments about how crazy I am for listing this, but I believe in talking to your plants. While there is no evidence to suggest that plants respond to affection, some plants do have a limited ability to communicate with one another. Though plants lack the ability to receive and process sound waves, evidence suggests that some plants can communicate with each other through the use of chemical signals. Additionally, vibrations that travel through the soil or in the air may have an effect on plant growth. It may be possible for plants to pick up on the vibrations created by human speech and maybe even by the chemical signals that humans release without knowing it.
7. Give your plants some friends. Many use companion planting in organic gardens to let nature do most of the work instead of chemicals. In theory, using this type of gardening, essentially creates an agroecosystem. Nothing goes to waste and everything is interdependent. The by-products of these plants (dead heads, frail looking plants, etc.) can be used as soil conditioners. This makes for great efficiency and good use of space. Read more about which companion plants to use in vegetable, fruit and herb gardens.
Above all, visit your garden regularly. When you spend time in the garden, you will be less likely to neglect it. By following these simple laws of gardening, you can have a successful garden, year after year.
Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.
Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals.