Plant cultivation begins with preparing the soil to accept the seeds or young plants. After soil preparation, seeds or seedlings are the start of cultivating both vegetables and flowers. Proper care of the growing plants eventually will result in the harvesting of the cultivated flowers or vegetables. If you retain some seeds, the cycle of cultivation and growth can begin anew in the spring from the seeds grown the previous year.
Soil preparation is a very important part of cultivation. Soil preparation involves loosening and breaking up of hard, compacted soil and adding nutrients and organic material to promote the growth of the plants that will eventually be planted in the garden. Soil preparation techniques will vary depending on your type of soil. Help is often available from your county agricultural extension department.
Once the soil is prepared, you can plant the seeds or seedlings in the prepared soil. Whether you plant seed or seedlings will depend on your location and the type of flowers of vegetables to be planted. Tomatoes can be difficult to grow from seed and often are best planted as seedlings. Corn, on the other hand, grows quickly and easily and can usually be grown from seed. Planting depth will vary by the type of seed. Planting depths are indicated on seed packages.
Even in very good soils, many crops do better with fertilization. Fertilizer adds nutrients to the soil that promote growth and improve plant health. Healthy plants are more resistant to some pests. Organic fertilizers, like cow manure, fish meal, or in some cases, whole fish, are excellent fertilizers. Compost, made from a variety of organic wastes including leaves and kitchen waste, is another excellent fertilizer.
Caring for your garden over time is very important. You must remove weeds from the garden. Weeds can compete with your flowers and vegetables for both sunlight and nutrients. By removing the weeds, you ensure better flower and vegetable plant health. In most climates, watering your garden regularly is very important. Many plants will die without adequate water, especially when young. Watering once a day unless rain supplies water is a good idea. In drier climates, water a bit longer. In wetter climates, don't water your garden as long.
The final step in cultivation is harvest. If you are growing flowers, cut your flowers before they go to seed in order to encourage more blooms. Harvesting vegetables is the final step in food garden cultivation. In many cases, you can keep seeds from vegetables like corn, squash, or peppers to be planted next year.