“Where you gave a plot of land, however small, plant a garden. Staying close to the soil is good for the soul.” – Spencer W. Kimball
One of the most efficient and beautiful ways to make use of an extra space in your front or backyard is creating a garden. It’s also a step into a greener and healthier lifestyle, plus, it certainly adds appeal to your property. Not to mention, gardening offers a lot of health benefits too! Even the sight of a blooming garden every morning as the sun gently touches your skin can make any day brighter and set a good mood for work, school or other outdoor activities considering the 217 sunny days in Fayetteville.
There’s no explanation needed as to why our grandparents love gardening and start their day with it – it simply is a hobby or practice that’s worth all the labor, may it be in the colorful flowers, blossoming shrubs or fresh vegetables.
Starting your own garden in Fayetteville can create the perfect front yard and backyard landscapes. Imagine growing attractive annuals, perennials, spring bulbs, and rose flowers, as well as trees, shrubs, and groundcovers that put on a year-round gardening display. Although, we have one common struggle, just like any other expert gardeners when they were beginners: what’s the truth or secret of a successful garden? The answer is proper garden care.
Garden Care Explained
Babies or infants require proper care in order for them to grow into good persons, and your garden needs just as much for it to flourish. A prolific garden requires regular maintenance throughout the growing season. Plants need sun, water, and nutrients to grow well. You, as a gardener, even if you’re just a beginner, must mainly worry about nutrients and water if planting in a bed with the proper sun exposure.
It is imperative that you provide what your garden needs to keep it healthy, green and growing to its fullest potential. Garden care isn’t just one to task be fulfilled, but it is comprised of different chores which are relevant in promoting growth and vitality of your plants as well as the overall upkeep and riddance of pests. This particular activity is year-round and its rhythms are dictated by seasonal conditions and local climates.
How To Properly Take Good Care Of Your Garden
Alright, so you’ve done an incredible job in starting your own garden, yay! Now, after building it and as your plants start to grow, your job here is not yet done – there’s a lot more to do if you really desire to make your garden bloom the whole year. Yes, having a garden is fantastic, but the real question here is, how to do it? What level of care is required in order for the garden to thrive and reach its full potential of growth? No need to worry, we’ve put down relevant information to help you ensure your garden is a huge success throughout the entire growing season, with consideration to the cold winter season.
Be Mindful Of Watering
Watering is a regular activity and you have to be consistent about it. It’s a simple fact that plants need water, the challenge here, though, is the amount of water that your plants or garden require. An efficient irrigation system is highly advised to ensure that the watering schedule id followed and that your plants receive the right amount of water. A drip irrigation system is more preferable for a garden because it can save up to 60% of the water used by sprinkler systems, plus, it can cover both large and small garden areas. You can setup the automatic timer for a more proficient watering. A soaker hose can also be a good choice.
Overwatering your soil can allow moss or mold to emerge as well as diseases that could destroy your garden. A little amount of water is bad too! You’ll know if it is under-watered if you see wilting of plants, brown or dead leaves, and stunted growth. It’s paramount that you learn the ways of how to avoid water stressed plants.
In watering garden plants each season, you have to consider the precipitation levels in Fayetteville. In spring and summer, your garden must be watered deeply and it should penetrate the ground to six inches. It’s better to water deeply twice a week than lightly every day given one or two inches of water per week. Deep watering should be done until fall. When winter comes, the plants go dormant but it doesn’t mean that they no longer need water.
Your plants won’t need as much water during their dormancy as they do in the spring and summer but be sure to water them deeply a few times a month. Remember, water when the soil is dry to the touch, the temperature is below 40 F. (4 C.)
Keep The Weeds Out
Weeds are not welcome in your garden, hence, you should keep them out. The presence of weeds can harbor insects and disease. If you weed regularly, particularly at the beginning of the growing season, it should be relatively easy to keep weeds at bay. Early weed detection and removal can help the plants establish in the garden, and if you neglect it, weeds will rob moisture and nutrients from your garden plants while also providing a haven for pests and disease. Certainly, you don’t want that to happen.
Once you see any signs of weeds emerging, immediately act on to it. You can manually pick and remove the weeds from your garden, or suppress its growth by adding mulch. Controlling weed growth can also be done naturally or culturally which includes non-chemical practices or methods like spraying household vinegar on it and applying boiling water.
Aside from the organic weed control methods, you can opt for the chemical approach. In case you choose to use chemical herbicides, be sure to select the appropriate product for your situation. There are herbicides that may not directly tackle the problem and may cause other problems which are why you have to best ones. Also, you must not forget to read, understand and follow all of the label directions when mixing and applying herbicides.
Mulch, Mulch, Mulch – Why Is It Necessary?
Mulch is a necessity for landscapes as well as gardens. Adding mulch can be useful in a lot of ways such as improving the soil retention of soil, regulating soil temperature, preventing soil erosion, reducing the occurrence of diseases, and as we’ve mentioned previously, it can greatly reduce weed growth. It keeps the soil moist, too. Almost any organic matter can be used as mulch materials including hay, straw, leaves, sawdust, paper, bark or grass clippings. So, when you’re done mowing your lawn, don’t throw all the grass clippings away, instead, pile them up and make use of it as a mulch.
The ideal time to apply mulch to your garden is in early spring or in fall, but don’t do it too early otherwise you’ll delay the soil’s warming. For your garden, pile a three or four inches layer of mulch and pull it back from trunks and plant stems to discourage rot and mice. If you have perennials or flowering trees, it would be great to pile up a volcano-shaped mound of mulch at its base.
Feed Your Soil
In as much as we, humans need food to live, your garden plants need nutrients as well in order for them to flourish. However, to ensure that this will be successful, you have to test your soil first. Gather samples from your area and bring it to a soil testing laboratory. This service is offered for free by the Cooperative Extension Service and the Soil Testing Laboratory, so, if you want to save money, don’t hesitate to take your samples there.
Most native soils in Arkansas are acidic, including Fayetteville (it depends on your area, so be sure to conduct a soil test), which require amending to increase soil pH. In connection with this, liming the soil makes nutrients available to the plants especially calcium. Now, once you’ve tested and enriched your soil, supplemental feeding will no longer be necessary.
By adding organic matter to your soil, each year before planting and side dress with more organic matter once or twice during the growing season is one of the best ways to feed your soil. Apply organic substance as much as possible, and with the help of a compost, you’re garden’s success is guaranteed. You can make your own compost in the shady part of your garden area by mixing kitchen scraps, garden clutter, and a whole bunch of organic materials. Organic plant foods are slow releasing and will continue to feed your plants all season long.
Moreover, commercial fertilizers can be one of your options too. Choosing the right type of fertilizer as well as the appropriate amount depends on the results of your soil test. It should have the right ratio of supplemental nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorous, calcium, etc. Don’t have second thoughts about asking local suppliers for assistance in picking the best fertilizer.
When The Weather Gets Cold, Do Cover
When winter comes, we bundle up to protect ourselves from freezing, same with your plants. You need to protect your plants from frost and you could use a cold frame or hoop cover. You might want to consider other season extenders such as row covers, cloches, hotbeds, etc. Using these materials can help insulate your plants and keep the soil warm. They can be used in the spring to help start plants sooner or in the fall, before the frost sets in, to keep the plants going. This practice will help prepare your plants for winter and help them thrive through the entire dormancy period.
Furthermore, cover the soil with mulch so it won’t erode over the winter. The first frost in fall is often followed by an extended period of frost-free weather. Hence, cover tender flowers, shrubs, and vegetables on frosty nights, and you may be able to enjoy extra weeks of gardening.
Maintain A Healthy Garden
Keeping a healthy and lush garden isn’t just built for a day, you have to continuously work hard for it. Of course, all your hard work will just go to waste if your garden only lives for one season, and for sure, you wouldn’t want that to happen, right? Well then, you have to maintain your garden to make it reach its full potential. Here’s how:
Watch Out For Pests And Diseases
Never ignore any symptoms of pest problems or disease by checking your garden plants regularly. Infected plants should be dealt with or treated right away in order to prevent the spread of disease to healthy plants.
For pest infestation, you can set out traps or use natural methods to get rid of those critters. Snails, slugs, aphids and Japanese beetles are just a few of the many pests that may invade your garden, so, get rid of them as soon as you spot them creeping in. Commercial insecticides or pesticides can be used too, as long as its content won’t harm your plants.
In case you have planted crops or fruit-bearing shrubs, get rid of rotting or dead vegetation such as leaves, pulled weeds and plant stalks. Aside from that, remove the old spent flowers to improve the garden’s appearance and encourage further blossoms. Pruning your plants is also important to promote your plants’ growth and health.
Take the time to clean, sharpen, and disinfect your garden tools. This will help you avoid any disease or infection from spreading and stunted growth.
Plant support can be in the form of trellises, stakes, tepees and A-frames. All of these support systems are relevant in increasing garden space, allowing increased sunlight exposure, promoting better air circulation, and pruning made easy.
It’s best to install the stakes or trellises at planting time to avoid the risk of injuring the plant roots. These support systems also allow plants to fully grow to increase yield potential. It could also ward off unwanted pests or critters.
Way To Sum It Up
Keeping your garden healthy with proper care and maintenance can be quite a handful but as what they say, nothing worth having comes easy. Meaning, you have to give it your all – sweat, determination, hard work, patience, and optimism. In the end, you’ll bask in the glory of your own persuasion when you see your own garden blossom.
Waking up each morning with a cup of coffee in your hand as you sit on the porch and welcome the new day with a positive outlook, is probably one of the best feelings in the world. When you keep these things we’ve mentioned above, you’ll certainly be on the right track and your garden will surprise you.