Green Thumbs And Dirty Knees: Gardening Tips From Jen

Gardening is an enjoyable and relaxing hobby. I love the feeling of being one with Nature, with fuzzy, buzzing bees and butterflies flitting around. But it can be a lot of work too. With the weather warming up, I thought it would be a good time to offer a few basic gardening tips.

Tiger Swallowtail on lilac.
Image by ThruJensLens Photography

My number one tip is, put your garden where you can see it. I love watching all the activity, and how my flowers grow and change over the course of the season. If you want to get the most out of your garden, you need to see it. It also helps me stay on top of the weeding. We want our gardens to look nice, right?

Tip #2: Look to the skies! When planning a spot for your garden, you’ll want to know how the sun affects it over the course of the day. Does it get full sun for six or more hours, or is it perhaps on the East or North side of your home, and only gets early morning, or late day sun? This has a huge impact on what you can plant. Many perennials and flowering shrubs require full sun, whereas some plants such as fern and hostas, much prefer to be in a cooler, shady spot.

Tip #3: Dirty business. Your soil, that is. We need to take a closer look at the quality of the soil.I like to think of topsoil as a living organism. I mean, it is made up of organic materials, after all. Soil texture is important. For example, clay soils have small soil particles and sticky feel. Sandy soil is made up of large particles, and feels gritty. Both sandy soils and clay soils present challenges for gardeners. Loam soil is the name given to soil with a mixture of different sized particles. For clay soil, added aggregates like peat moss helps to improve aeration and drainage. Sandy soils dry out too quickly, so adding amendments like compost, manure or peat will help it retain moisture better.

Tip #4: Weed be gone! In the spring when your garden is just waking up, or before building a new flower bed, is the best time to get rid of weeds. Before they grow, develop roots that reach to the pit of despair, and pollinate to create a whole family of annoying little weedlets. Do it before you amend your soil, before you add your garden plants. Weeds compete with your precious plants for nutrients in the soil, and many can be quite invasive, choking them out. Exterminate them!

Tip #5: Mulch. Such a weird sounding word. but very useful in your garden. Mulch can be all natural, or come in decorative colours. It not only makes your flower beds look pretty, but helps retain valuable moisture and reduces the growth of those pesky weeds. To be really effective, you’ll want a good 2 – 3 inch layer of mulch. Mulch tip, level expert: build it up around your plants, but not touching the stems/stalks, as the moisture can cause softer plants to rot.

For anyone who cares to know, I not only love gardening as a hobby, but worked for nine seasons at the largest local garden centre in Southwestern Ontario, then another two years at a smaller one. I learned a lot from experts who have been in the industry for several generations. Most recently, I have been employed at the Home Depot Canada, and completed their garden centre training. I love sharing my knowledge with people, and helping them have a garden they can get a lot of enjoyment out of!

There are lots of great gardening books, magazines and web sites out there, if you’re looking for more information. Hope this little bit was somewhat of a help.

Thanks for reading. Please Click the “Like” button below & don’t forget to subscribe to my “Musings”!

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