The satisfaction of watching the growth and life cycle of a plant can be as beneficial to a gardener as the harvest itself. From grass to flowers to vegetables, successful gardening depends on basic knowledge of plant life basics like soil and climate requirements, nutrients and lighting. Depending on the size of the area devoted to planting, maintenance tools may be required and basic knowledge of what tools are appropriate will save time and labor.
The proper soil gives all plants the basic requirements needed to thrive. Water retention, oxygen, root space, food and minerals are dependent on the condition of the soil. The ideal soil for healthy plants is loam, which is a balance of the other three types of soil: sand, silt and clay.
Improvements can be made to existing soils by adding organic matter. Leaf mold, compost and peat moss can improve drainage, pH and nutrients.
Native plants can survive with the moisture provided by nature, but other plants usually need additional watering.
Different types of soil dry out faster than others. Clay-based soils need less water than sandy-based soils. On average, plants benefit with an inch of water a week.
If the soil tends to dry out quickly, moisture can be preserved with a layer of mulch.
Most plant nutrients are naturally made available to plants by water and soil. Potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen supplements usually have to be replenished. Fertilizers are best used in the fall, wintering in the soil and ready to nourish plants when the spring growing season begins.
Tips for Planting Vegetables
Vegetables thrive when planted in fertile soil with a lot of sunshine and moisture. Keeping the weeds out of the garden and watching for insect pests will be the most important job of the vegetable gardener once the plants have become established. Flowers planted in the vegetable garden can help with insect pest control. Cosmos, yarrow, coneflower and sunflower will all attract beneficial insects that will help control pests that can harm valuable vegetable plants. Time of planting varies by climate. Read the directions on purchased vegetable seeds and plants for the proper planting times. The climate may also determine the depth of the planted seed for proper germination.
Many gardeners extend the growing season by successively planting vegetables every two weeks, so that the harvest is spaced out.
Tips for Planting Flowers
Many gardeners purchase annual flowers to add immediate spots of color to the garden. Annuals can also be used as cut flowers or can be dried for ornamental use.
Because of the variety of colors and sizes of most annuals, the perfect plant can be found for any location.
Annuals planted between perennial flowers will fill in the spaces left in the flower garden until the perennials bloom later in the season. Group plants according to their water and sunlight needs.
Annuals can be tucked into a bulb bed to fill in the gaps left by the early blooming tulips and daffodils.
For a colorful low border or hedge, consider planting a mass of annual flowers.