Garden Maintenance and Care

Now that your garden is beginning to grow, there are a few things to know when caring for your garden. Regular maintenance and care is key to the health and success of your Home Farmer garden.

Watering

One of the most important steps to caring for your garden is to regularly water your garden. But how do you know how much water to give your plant? Too little, and your plant will not get what it needs to survive. Too much, and you risk poor production, wilting, or killing your plant. A good rule of thumb is to feel the top inch of the soil before you water and check on the moisture. If the soil feels damp, you do not need to add anymore water. Soil types vary in water retention so it is important to take the type of soil into consideration. Keep an eye out fo for common signs of overwatering and under-watering. We have listed these signs below.

Signs of Under-Watering:

  • Brown or brittle leaves, especially towards the base of the plant
  • The soil around the plant will be dry
  • The plant is dead and not producing fruit or flowers

Signs of Overwatering:

  • Yellowing leaves
  • Drooping or wilting plants
  • Mushy stems
  • Mold or algae around the plant base

Mulching

Adding mulch to your garden can be a good solution to keep the soil moist, protect against harsh weather and temperatures, and keep weeds from growing. There are two categories to consider when choosing mulch: organic and inorganic. Both organic and inorganic mulch will deter weeds and keep moisture locked in the soil, but organic mulches will break down over time and improve the health and quality of the soil.

Organic mulch:

  • leaves
  • grass clippings
  • compost
  • wood chips from bark

Inorganic mulch:

  • Rocks
  • rubber chips
  • Plastic sheets

Before laying down any mulch in your garden, be sure to remove any weeds or unwanted plants. The amount of mulch that you will lay down depends on the sunlight the area receives. Areas with more shade can be covered with about 2-3 inches of mulch, while areas with more sun and heat can need up to 5 inches. Make sure to surround the base and stem of your plant gently when mulching.

Pruning

Some of your plants will require regular pruning to provide better opportunity for your plants to thrive and grow. Herbs, such as basil, will last longer and grow more vigorously if their flowers are pruned and their leaves are harvested regularly. Use shears or scissors to cut and remove the flowers as they start to appear.Tomato plants will also need regular pruning. As the plant grows, side stocks, or suckers, start to grow at the base of the plant. Using garden shears or scissors, remove the suckers which absorb nutrients away from the fruit. Once these are removed. more energy and nutrients will go towards production, and you will have healthier, bigger tomatoes! Weeds Having weeds in your garden is not only a nuisance, it is also affecting the growth and life of your garden. Weeds will take water and nutrients away from the plants. Therefore, it is important to regularly remove weeds from your garden as they appear and when they are young. Cutting weeds off at ground level is the best way to remove them, as pulling them up by the roots can damage the roots of the plants you want to keep. Create a set schedule to remove weeds weekly.

Maintaining and caring for your garden is crucial to its success. Proper care will help ensure that your garden thrives and you can Dig What You Eat!

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