Gardening Success? Mark's Top 5 Tips

Gardening Success? Mark's Top 5 Tips

Posted on February 22 by Mark Cullen in Non-fiction
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I am often asked by beginner gardeners, “What do I need to know to succeed in the garden?” 

It is an excellent question as the “rules” boil down to a few simple but fundamentally critical points that cannot be overlooked if you want to achieve the garden of your dreams, whether it is a food garden or an ornamental garden. 

 

Here are my top 5 tips for gardening success:

  • Improve your soil.

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    99% of your gardening success will depend on the quality of the soil in which you plant. While we are busy observing the activity above ground at the stems, foliage, blooms and fruit, below ground there is critically important work going on! Plants must have quality soil at their roots to survive. If you have clay based soil that is hard to dig, remove it 30 cm deep and replace it with quality triple mix. If your soil is reasonably easy to turn over with a shovel, spread 5 cm. of compost or triple mix over the area and dig it in. Each year add generous quantities of organic-rich amendments to your soil in the form of quality compost, at least 2 cm. thick over the entire garden. All container plants perform best in fresh container mix each spring. Turn the used mix over in your garden!

  • Appropriate light.

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    It is very important that you match the sunlight requirements of each plant to available sunlight. Put another way, if you have a shady garden, it is important to plant only those plants which thrive in low light. If your yard is hot and sunny all day, steer clear of the “cool” plants that thrive in low light. It is a simple thing, but often overlooked when we cruise the aisles at a garden retailer and become infatuated with the fabulous colour! 

  • Water.

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    Where there is water, there is life. Every plant that you grow needs some amount of water, but some need more than others. When you plant, it is important to know the watering requirements of each one and add water appropriately. When a plant is first put in the ground it requires watering, but after that, the amount and frequency of watering depends on the species, the soil, and the location. A sunny location dries plants out faster than a shady one. Container-grown plants require water more frequently than those growing in the garden. Keep one more thing in mind: 9 out of 10 plant problems are the result of overwatering. Don’t be afraid to let your plants to get on the dry side between water applications.

  • Fertilizer.

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    Plants feed themselves through photosynthesis, so it is misleading to suggest that fertilizer actually “feeds” plants. What it does do is provide the essential basic nutrients that plants crave most: nitrogen, phosphorous and potash. Learn the fertilizer requirements of the plants in your garden and apply as necessary. Keep in mind that there are alternatives to synthetic fertilizers, many of them are natural. Look for Natura and Green Earth brands if you wish to use natural fertilizers. And keep in mind that there are many nutrients in quality compost which are provided to the plant naturally. 

  • Weeding.

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    How many times have I seen a garden beautifully executed in the spring only to be overrun by weeds a few short weeks later? Weeds are the #1 competitors in the garden. They choke out desirable plants and rob them of soil-borne nutrients, water, and sunshine. The secret to weed control is to get on it early in the season. While there are some weed-control products on the market, I enjoy knocking them down in my garden using a hoe or a Back Hoe (new this year!). Make sure that your weeding tools are sharp: I sharpen mine every time I use it! 

     

A beautiful garden in your yard? Yes, the dream can become reality, but it takes commitment on the part of the gardener. Follow these 5 rules and you won’t go wrong!

 

www.markcullen.com 10,000 gardening questions. Answered. 

Mark Cullen

Posted by Kendra on April 21, 2015
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Mark Cullen

Mark Cullen is Canada’s best-known gardener, connecting with more than two million people each week through various media outlets, including a weekly CTV morning show segment and a weekly column in the Toronto Star. As a spokesperson for Home Hardware, Mark spent years speaking to everyday Canadians about their gardens.