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Planting The Garden – 6 Big Tips To Get Plants Off To A Great Start!


Planting day is an important day in your garden’s success. Photo Credit : Shutterstock / Petra Schueller

Garden season is here! Over the course of the next few weeks, millions upon millions of tomato, pepper, cucumber, zucchini and other vegetable plant varieties will make their way into gardens.  Getting your plants off to a great start is a big key in having a successful harvest, and with just a few simple steps on planting day – you can ensure the plants in your garden are primed and ready for a record year!

So read up, get the garden tools ready, stretch out those muscles – and make planting day this year the best ever.

6 Big Planting Day Tips:

#1 Companion Planting – What you grow where makes a difference!


This picture of potatoes and tomatoes may look pretty – but they do not grow when planted beside each other.

Before you ever place that first plant in the ground – be aware that some vegetable plants perform better when grown near others, and vice-versa.

For instance – tomatoes do well when planted around peppers, cabbage, carrots, basil, onion and garlic. And peppers do well near tomatoes, cabbage, carrots and onions – but avoid planting either near potatoes. Why? When planted near each other, tomatoes can make the potatoes more susceptible to potato blight – and potatoes can have the same negative effect on tomatoes

As for those potatoes, plant them near beans, cabbage, corn, peas, squash and eggplant. For other planting companions – you can check out our article : Companion Planting In The Garden

#2 Creating The Perfect Planting Hole With The Perfect Mix

Start your plants off right by putting them in the perfect home – a great planting hole. We create all of our garden planting holes with a post hole digger – it quickly carves out a nice 8 to 10” deep hole that is more than wide enough to accommodate transplants.

We then fill the hole back in as we plant with a 50/50 mixture of soil and compost – also adding in a few crushed egg shells and a tablespoon of coffee grounds in the mix.  The compost soil mix provides a perfect growth medium – the coffee grounds are an all natural source of nitrogen for the plants as they grow – and the egg shells add in calcium, which is much-needed by plants such as tomatoes and peppers.    See : Planting With A Post Hole Digger  and  Why Egg Shells and Coffee Grounds Are Great For The Garden

#3 Mulch The Plants

Whatever you do – don’t leave the soil around your new plants bare!


Compost is one of the best all around mulches you can use in the garden

Mulching is one of the best ways to get your plants off to a great start. It keeps out competing weeds and helps to insulate the root zone of plants from temperature swings. We use compost as our mulch – creating a 1″ to 2″ thick mulch around the base of each plant – about 8″ in diameter.

By using the compost, we get the added benefit of a slow release fertilizer leaching into the soil every time it rains or we water. If you don’t have compost available – use straw or shredded leaves. All of the above mulches also break down and add organic matter to your soil, improving it each and every year!  See : How To Use Mulch In The Garden

#4 Provide Support


The Stake-A-Cage at work in our garden

Plan ahead on planting day and get those supports in the ground now for plants like tomatoes and peppers. It lets you tie them off early for support – and it also keeps you from going back and disturbing the root zones a month later to drive them in.

We use a really effective homemade staking system for all of our plants we jokingly call the “Stake A Cage” – a cross between the traditional tomato stake and cage.

It is nothing more than a piece of fencing panel fastened to a wooden stake that creates the ultimate support system for tomato and peppers plants of any size. See: How To Create The Ultimate Garden Supports

#5 Stay Off The Soil Around Plants

When working in your garden, be sure to stay clear of the ground directly around your plants. Stepping on and around the root zones of plants compacts the soil and can stunt their growth.


raised row gardens are great for keeping foot traffic away from root zones

When soil compacts tightly around a plant’s roots, the roots have a much more difficult time soaking up the water and nutrients that are vital to their growth.  It becomes nearly impossible for their tender roots to expand, which in turn hinders the top growth and yields as well.

It is one of the reasons I love the raised rows in our garden so much – it naturally protects root zones and keeps foot traffic away. See : The Secret To A Great Garden – Raised Rows!

#6 Practice Good Watering Habits

It is absolutely vital to water your plants on planting day to help them tolerate the stress of the transplant. We put about a cup of water into the hole and then water the plant again once it is in the ground. If we plant in the early morning – we will check at the end of the day to see if there are any signs of wilt and maybe give it another drink in the evening if needed.


Proper watering can make all the difference ! Photo Credit : Shutterstock / Dusan Zidar

When plants are very young and for the first week or so after transplanting, you may need to water daily to get them established.

After that – watering every day is a no-no. Most vegetable plants need about 1 inch of water a week.  If mother nature can’t supply that  – then you need to supplement.  If you are experiencing a prolonged dry spell – water every two to three days with about a 1/2″ of water to the plant at a time.  This allows enough water to go deep into the soil and create longer roots.   Don’t fall into the “water every day habit” though for established plants. Plants that get a little water every day never send their roots deeper to look for moisture and nutrients – and you end up with a weak root system and a weak plant   See : Secrets to Successfully Watering Your Garden 

Here is to a great gardening season. Happy Gardening!  – Jim and Mary

Be sure to check out our new book Growing Simple, now available at in both paperback and ebook versions. If you would like to receive our Recipes, DIY and Gardening articles each week, be sure to sign up to follow the blog via email in the right hand column above, “Like” us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.