There are few things in life as therapeutic and rewarding as tending your own garden. As poet Alfred Austin noted, “To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.” But feeding the soul is hard work. It takes much more than some dirt and a pack of seeds. There is an art and a science to gardening, and it requires a certain level of know-how. Here are some key factors to take into consideration when creating and maintaining a little piece of your soul in the soil:
Give Yourself Enough Room
When creating your garden, you need to allocate the correct amount of space specific to the kind of crop you plan to grow to help it sprout successfully. For vegetables like beets, onions, lettuce, carrots and radishes, you need to allow for wide rows for the plants to grow underneath the soil without intertwining with each other. The seeds for these root vegetables should be scattered across a wide row of about 24 by 24 inches, according to Plant Something.
For plants like cucumbers, squash and melons, planting on a small hill is recommended. Vine crops require about a 12-inch circle of space per four to six seeds. For weaker seedlings, allow only three per hill.
When starting a new garden, often one of the most devastating errors a home gardener can make is watering too frequently or not frequently enough. Generally, for a 20- to 24-inch bulb, applying about 10 gallons of water twice a week is sufficient because this amount equals roughly one inch of rainfall, explains Lowes. However, certain plants like succulents may require less water. If you’ve had decent rainfall in your area (at least an inch in two weeks), then your plants are most likely thriving on their own.
The most important factor is to maintain the moistness of the root mass because it dries much more quickly than the surrounding soil. You should test the soil for dampness down to 12 inches in the ground. You can use a spade and your fingers to test for dampness.
The biggest threat is likely German cockroaches at home, but what is equally probably backyard garden is pests. The Asian long-horn beetle is the biggest offender in many Massachusetts backyards. These little beasts destroy entire trees and can throw the delicate natural balance of your backyard garden into chaos. So, it is important to keep an eye out for burrow holes and larvae in the trees surrounding your growing plot.
All gardens run the risk of rodent and vermin attacks, and your soil can hide countless hazards to your plant life. Although organic pesticides can work up to a point, for an infestation or persistent pest troubles, consult a professional pest control service.
Be Aware of the Weather
Different plants grow best in different times of the year, so be aware of what you are planting and when. For example, cabbage, brussels sprout, broccoli and lettuce, do best in cool weather and can manage small amounts of frost. However, if a cold front is moving its way toward your garden, it is wise to transplant them before it hits. Warm weather crops like peppers, tomato and eggplant have zero tolerance for the frost known to hit Massachusetts in the fall, so do not take these crops to soil until the soil temperature reaches at least 60 degrees in mid-to-late May.
Gardening isn’t for everyone. It requires patience and persistence. Most of all, though, it requires know-how and love, so take these tips into consideration when you take to the earth to plant your garden.
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