Important Tips and Trick for Better Gardening

Now that your garden is planted and you are beginning to see the fruits of your labor, there are a few things you can do to take your garden from good to great. Here are some tips and tricks for better gardening.

Things you will need

For Composting

  • Compost box (purchased or home built)
  • Garden Shovel
  • Straw, hay, or grass clippings
  • Organic food scraps

For Weeding

For Planting

  • Garden Shovel
  • Heirloom, organic seeds
  • Well draining soil mixture

Compost! Compost! Compost!

If you want your vegetables to be organically grown and plentiful, you have to compost. It’s very simple and provides you with rich soil that your vegetables will love.

  • Compost is organic matter that has decomposed and is considered the best form of organic fertilizer.
  • There are many ways that you can start your compost pile. You can build a compost enclosure but the easiest and quickest way to start composting is to buy a compost box from your local garden center.
  • Your compost pile will not be ready to use for almost a year after you start composting (should be ready to mix into your garden soil at the start of your second year of gardening).
  • Do not build or keep your compost pile near pine trees. Pine trees increase the pH of the surrounding soil and that will ultimately effect the integrity of your compost pile.
  • Once you have established your compost pile, use your shovel to turn over your compost, burying vegetable and fruit scraps under at least 10 inches of compost.
  • Cover this first layer of compost with grass clippings, straw, or hay, and then continue adding to the compost pile as usual.
  • If you have a three sided enclosure, use your shovel to gently mix in the top layer of your pile once or twice a year, or every 12”. If you have a store bought compost bin, add a layer of rich soil or compost every 12”.
  • Make sure your compost pile stays moist. In areas that tend to get very warm and have few rain showers, you will want to moisten your compost pile with water and cover it with a tarp. If you are able to keep your compost pile moist, then it will be ready for use sooner.
  • After about a year (longer if your compost pile wasn’t moist enough), the compost that is ready for use will be in the very bottom layer of your pile. It should be very dark or black, fine textured soil.
  • Use the compost to add to your soil mixture at the beginning of each grow year.
  • Sprinkle the compost around the base of established plants throughout the grow season.

Here is an image that illustrates the layers to an established compost pile.

compost pile

Here is a list of common items that are great for composting:

  • Grass clippings
  • Egg shells
  • Coffee grounds
  • Vegetable and fruit waste and scraps
  • Dead Leaves
  • Sawdust

Here is a more detailed list of great items to add to your compost pile.

Here is a list of common items not to add to your compost pile:

  • Meat or fish (including bones)
  • Pet waste
  • Dairy products
  • Anything that has been treated with a chemical (i.e.grass clippings or weeds that have been treated with pesticides)
  • Fats and oils
  • Coal or charcoal ash

Keep out the weeds

In order to keep your garden looking and performing at its peak, you will need to regularly make sure there are no weeds growing among your vegetables. There are a couple of ways that you can go about keeping weeds at bay, without the use of harmful chemicals.

Pulling your weeds​

pulling weeds

The most common way to keep out weeds, is to manually pull them out. If this becomes your preferred method, you will need to pull weeds about once a week.

While wearing your garden gloves, grab the base of the weed and gently tug in order to pull out the majority of the root. If you break off the top of the weed and leave the root structure, the weed will quickly return.

You can use your garden shovel to help pull the roots out if necessary. Toss the weeds that you pull, into your compost pile!

Raised Beds​

Raised Beds

If you have a difficult time keeping up with the weeds, you can build raised garden beds that are lined with plastic in order to keep the weeds from growing in your bed.

This is more work in the beginning, but will keep your garden maintenance at a minimum. Raised beds also add a nice aesthetic appeal to your garden.

Straw/Hay​

SONY DSC

To reduce the number of weeds that grow, you can put down a layer of straw or hay. This will block the weeds from receiving the light that they need in order to grow in your garden.

Weeds will still grow through eventually, but not nearly as much as they would without it. Wind and other elements will blow away the layer of straw or hay and you will need to replace the layer eventually.

​Lining Your Garden

lining garden with plastic

Raised beds can sometimes add too much work or expense when you are starting you garden. Another option that many gardeners choose is to cover their garden with black plastic or garden mesh, and plant each vegetable plant through the plastic.

This is the easiest form of weed control for your garden but may be less aesthetically appealing.

After laying down your plastic you can cover it with a small layer of dirt to make it less visible.

Choose vegetables and other plants that will grow well in your climate zone.

There are a number of things that determine where a vegetable will and will not grow. Most of it is determined by temperature, day length, and moisture.

Luckily these are not things that you need to keep track of. It is easy to find out your climate zone, and usually the packets that your seeds come in will show when the vegetable should be planted in each zone.

If you follow the guide on the back of each seed packet, you should have no problem getting your vegetables to grow well.

seed packet

Use heirloom seeds to start your garden.

Collect seeds from each plant to start your garden the following year. Heirloom seeds produce more plentiful and flavorful fruits and vegetables.

These seeds have been collected within the same generation of families, are open-pollinated, and are usually comprised of old-time varieties.

Unlike hybrids, the seeds that you collect within one year will produce plants the following year that have the characteristics of the parent plant which are key to their survival.

Watch your garden be awesome!

These are some tips and tricks for better gardening. By using these simple steps, you will easy be able to take your home vegetable garden from good to great.

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