We have all been there. One day, its late Spring and the garden is growing beautifully – and in the blink of an eye – summer rolls in and it all becomes a tangled jungle of weeds & bugs! But don’t despair – with a few routine quick and easy garden tips, you can keep that backyard veggie patch a beautiful food-producing sanctuary! Here’s how:
7 Garden Tips To Keep Your Garden Beautiful
1. Remove Damaged & Diseased Plant Material
Don’t let pests and disease get a start in your garden. Every day or so, take a few moments to walk through your garden with a pair of hand pruners and remove any plant material that has been damaged or broken off by pests, disease, strong winds or storms.
Disease and pest damaged limbs put a great amount of stress on plants, keeping them from putting their energy towards producing those valuable coveted vegetables. By removing damaged material, you keep the garden looking great, disease at bay, and pests from hopping on to the next plant and spreading throughout the whole garden to do their dirty work.
2. Reduce / Eliminate Fertilizing
Like anything in life – too much of a good thing can be bad! Although it is perfectly fine to give your young plants a bit of natural fertilizers – begin to cut back as the summer season hits full swing. Plants that are over-fertilized put all of their energy into producing bigger stems and leaves – and not into producing fruit and veggies. (see : DIY Organic Fertilizers)
3. Pick Your Veggies Often
One of the best things you can do for your garden is to pick regularly. Many varieties will begin to stop producing blooms for new veggies once the plant becomes too overloaded with ripening produce. By keeping it picked and off of the plants – you allow for more to take their place. It also helps to keep pests at bay – nothing quite attracts all kinds of animals like over-ripened fruit in the garden!
In addition to removing damaged and diseased plant material – take the time to prune and remove the lower branches from vegetable plants like tomatoes and peppers. This allows the air and light to reach the plants – and keeps them healthy and thriving. It also makes it much easier when it comes to time to water! Pruning is one of the most overlooked and yet beneficial chores you can perform in the garden to help plants – and it only take a few minutes! (See : How To Prune Tomatoes and Peppers)
5. Stop Tilling Those Rows – You are only Planting Weeds!
Although it may seem like a great way to eliminate the little weeds, frequent tilling of your garden is not good for your soil or your plants. Bare soil causes all kinds of moisture loss, and allows for new weed seeds to blow in and take hold. Not to mention – every time you till the earth – you plant more weeds seeds that have landed on the surface. Instead – use a heavy mulch of shredded leaves, straw or natural shredded bark in those walking rows to keep weeds out – and the soil structure in tact. It will cut down on watering, weeds – and save your back all at the same time! (See : Why You Don’t Need A Rototiller For A Great Garden)
6. Mulch, Mulch, And Mulch Some More
This goes hand in hand with the above tip – but it really has made all the difference in keeping our garden both manageable and healthy all summer long. By keeping mulch around your plants – you eliminate weeds and conserve moisture to the plants on those hot “dog-days” of summer. It also helps to regulate the soil to a more constant temperature, keeping plant stress to a minimum. We use a heavy layer of compost as a mulch around all of our plants, but grass clippings, straw, or shredded leaves work well too. For all of our walking rows – we use untreated shredded bark and wood mulch about 4 to 6″ deep – eliminating all of the work in maintaining the biggest problem for all gardeners – weeds! ( See : How To Use Mulch In The Garden )
7. Five to Ten Minutes A Day – Goes A Long Way!
This is one of the biggest garden tips – it simply makes all of the difference! Spend just a little time each and every day walking through and maintaining your veggie plot – and your reward will be a beautiful garden! We say it often – but 5 to 10 minutes each day is not the same as 35 to 60 minutes once a week. It may work out to the same time – but not the same results! If you let your garden space go for days at a time, small weeds can turn into a jungle – and a few damaged or blighted limbs can turn into a dead plant. So take a cup of coffee early in the morning, or a nice cooling glass of iced tea in the evening, and get a little exercise each and every day while working in that garden!
Happy Gardening! Jim and Mary
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