Plant care tips for new gardeners

Take care of your plants to have a beautiful, productive garden

If you prefer, you can hear me read the article out by clicking the ‘Play’ button below.

If you are new to the world of gardening, it can be immensely rewarding – and also extremely addicting! However, you will need some basic information to get going and get your plants off to a good start. I have found that although that information is readily available on the internet, you will usually have to work your way through lengthy videos or complex articles, to get to it. Well, let’s remedy that.

Below are five quick tips which will help you become a better gardener. These are arranged in order of when in the growing stage you’ll need them – from when you’re planning the plants, to when they’re fairly big.

  1. Space your plants out

When you’re sowing seeds or putting in cuttings, remember to consider how big the plants and the roots will grow, and leave space accordingly. Spacing can usually be overlooked if you have a small garden or are growing intensively in containers, but if you have a large space, it is better to err on the safe side. This is because if the plants are too crowded, they may not have good air circulation between them, or they may not get enough sunlight – both of which can stunt growth.

  1. Only water your plants when needed

Plants need water to survive, but too much water can kill them by making their roots rot. So, only water them when they need it. However, depending on the soil, your climate, the plant’s requirements and many other factors, how much water they need may vary. So, a good tactic is to stick your finger two knuckles deep into the soil, and if the soil feels damp, you don’t need to water (and vice-versa). Over time, you’ll learn when to water by gauging these other factors.

  1. Give them food at intervals

When starting out, gardeners either tend to get over-enthusiastic with fertilizer, or forget about it entirely – both of which can negatively affect your plant’s health. Chemical fertilizers are strong and need to only be applied once a year, but organic fertilizer is way more flexible. Most experts seem to apply it while sowing, and later when the plant is fruiting or flowering. However, since it is slow and mild, you can use it as often as every month. Just remember to dilute it before use!

  1. Protect your plants against pests

Plants attract many pests, and although some of them are beneficial, most aren’t. There are many ways to get rid of pests. Most can be removed by hand, by simply pulling them off and killing them. Their bodies will help the soil over time. Or, if you prefer, you can use organic pesticides (chemical pesticides can harm the soil, so they aren’t recommended). Yet another method is to deter pests or to attract beneficial pests such as ladybugs, which will eat the harmful ones.

  1. Pruned plants perform better

Pruning is a fun process, and it trains your plant to perform the way you want it to. If you have flowering plants, cut off the flower head after it has wilted, to encourage the plant to flower more. With vegetable plants, the general rule is that if you want more leaves (like with herbs and leafy greens), cut off the vertical growth point, so the plant expands sideways and grows more leaves. If you want more fruit and less leaves (like with most veggies), cut off side branches (aka ‘suckers’), so the plant’s energy is concentrated into making fruit.

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