For the month of May, I found it only fitting to focus on gardening. The warm weather is here, which makes it the perfect time to get started. We featured a whole range of gardening and lawn care stories and dove into the subject, covering how to build one and get rid of pesky weeds. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned expert, this guide will have something to offer you!
I must confess. I am not a gardener. In fact, I’ve never gardened in my entire life. It’s not that I don’t want to, but I don’t have my own place yet. I hope that when I do, I’ll take up gardening as a summer hobby. After all, I come from a long line of gardeners and relatives who would be disappointed in me if I didn’t.
Why you should be gardening
You’ve probably heard countless times how important gardening is for the soul. It’s soothing, it’s healing, it forces you to get outside and enjoy the beautiful weather. Let us tell you in two minutes why you should consider gardening for your well-being:
Where to start
What’s your gardening preference? Flowers or vegetables? Start the process by choosing what you’re interested in planting.
You’ll want to fashion a raised garden bed to get started. Rather than planting directly into the ground on your hands and knees, a raised garden bed is, well, raised. The structure makes it easier to garden throughout the hot summer months, so you won’t be likely to easily give up!
Have you been working with lawn care professionals to get your lawn ready for the summer? Don’t rip out their hard work just yet! You must think about where you’re going to construct your new raised garden. These factors should influence you:
- Location. Make sure you build your garden bed in a spot where there’s a lot of sun and away from any slopes since you want the soil to be level.
- Access. Make sure you have access to all sides of the raised garden bed.
- Size. Build it to a size that can easily be maintained throughout the summer.
Yes, it’s that simple!
Look at this neat infographic! It clearly explains how a raised garden bed works!
This video will walk you through the process of building and curating your new garden in a raised bed:
Now that you’ve secured a location and know how to build a raised garden bed, it’s time to get started on the actual gardening process:
- Fill the bed with lots of soil and add fertilizers of your choice.
- Put your plants in place (flowers, vegetables, you name it)!
- Once your plants are in the soil, pack the soil around the roots.
- Water and watch it grow!
Keep your plants alive
When I attended Canada Blooms – the big flower and gardening show in Toronto – in March, ultimate gardener Frankie Flowers spoke these words and I’ll never forget it:
If you’ve ever gardened, you’ve killed a plant.
Good, so I’m not alone. I do have plants in my home and have killed them from time to time. When I did some research on why this was happening, I was pleased in being able to point out my mistakes and learn for them. Maybe you’re making the same mistakes I am:
- Over-watering. Your indoor and outdoor plants can’t speak for themselves, so it’s your job to nurture them with water. But putting too much water to the point where the water sit overtop the soil instead of trickling down to the roots of the plant is dangerous. Over-watering will kill the plant. Pour enough so the soil is adequately drenched without drowning it.
- Under-watering. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked around in my kitchen knowing I had to water my plant, and completely forgot to do so. Of course, under-watering your plant is equally dangerous because you’re not giving it the nutrients it needs! If you’re struggling to find a balance between over and under-watering, consider purchasing an automated self-watering system.
- The temperature isn’t quite right. This is an easy problem to fix. If you’re cold, your plant is cold. If you’re warm, so is your plant! There’s no way for you to control the temperature outside, but you can cover outdoor plants with tarp during cooler nights and adjust the temperature in your home. Better yet, move them around in your house. Trial and error will help you decide what works best for your plants.
Your plants will tell you in subtle ways if they’re suffering from under or over-watering. If you’re not nourishing them enough, the leaves will wilt. If you’re overwatering, the leaves will not only wilt, but the edges will turn brown.
Ward off the weeds!
Let’s turn our attention back to gardening outdoors. Now that you’re armed with the tips you need to keep your plants alive, now you have to worry about contending with weeds that prevent your garden from looking beautiful! Hey, I thought gardening was supposed to be fun. Turns out it’s really a lot of work!
No matter how much time you spend perfecting your garden, you’re bound to come across some weeds. Here’s why:
- You’re fertilizing too much: Too much fertilizer nurtures weeds. Correct this by reading the directions on the packaging of the fertilizer you buy, and use one that has a high percentage of control-release nitrogen. This provides a slow and steady nutrient supply which will slow (and hopefully eliminate) the growth of weeds.
- You’re watering too much: If you’re watering your garden frequently, it creates a breeding ground for weeds. Adjust your routine so you’re watering infrequently, but giving your garden a good soaking. A good rule of thumb is to picture a tuna can – it’s about 1 inch thick and that’s how much water it needs.
Now that you know why weeds grow in the first place, zap them with these household remedies. You’re bound to have one of these products somewhere in your home!
That jug of bleach you keep in your laundry room isn’t just for getting stubborn stains out of white clothes. Pour a but of bleach over the weeds that are sprouting out of hard-to-reach places. Wait a day or two and pull them out. The bleach should prevent weeds from growing back.
Helpful tips: The bleach will evaporate within two days, therefore you’re safe to replant and resoil as you please. However, bleach will kill anything it touches. If you get it on your soil, lawn or plants, wash them off liberally to protect them. And be careful not to get stains on your clothes too!
If you’re a bit clumsy and worried about getting bleach all over your garden, consider using this less-invasive household product. It’ll do the job just as well as bleach will!
- 1 cup salt
- 2 cups of water
- Bring the mix to a boil
Once that’s done, pour the solution directly onto the weeds to kill them.
Alternatively, you can spread salt directly onto the weeds. Hose down the treated area, or wait for a rainfall to do the work for you.
If that doesn’t work…
Sometimes, your weeds are no match for household remedies. It’s time to pull out the big guns and resort to herbicides. This should be considered a last resort only after you’ve tried to resolve the problem with other solutions.
Here’s a guide for buying herbicides:
- Find one that’s labelled as safe for the turf you’re looking to treat.
- Read the directions carefully. It’ll illustrate what conditions you should be using the product. Some are finicky and will only work at a specific time of the year.
- Do you research and spend time asking questions at your local gardening store. There are so many different types of herbicides on the market and you’ll want to make sure you bring home the right kind.
Read the instructions carefully! You don’t want to drown your garden in herbicides and kill all your hard work!
This video explains how to use herbicides properly:
Don’t let your fear of gardening get you down. Truth is, it’s not that hard. Initially, it requires some labour, but in the end, you’ll be left with a beautiful vegetable or flower garden that will be admired by everyone who sets their eyes on it.
Speaking of vegetables, why not put your green thumb to work and get started on a vegetable garden? Our DIY guide to building a vegetable garden is your ultimate source for getting the project off the ground. The best part? You can have it done in one weekend, so you’ll have vegetables growing in no time!
Happy gardening season, everyone!