Watering. It’s a must do when it comes to plants, but somehow something so simple can go so wrong. From watering too much to not enough, here are some of the biggest watering mistakes gardeners make.
Where You Water. Believe it or not, there is a specific way to water plants that is best for them. Placing your watering wand at the base of the plant, underneath the leaves, is best. Showering the leaves with water can actually cause more harm than good, not only preventing the plant from getting as much water as it needs, but sometimes leaving burn spots on the leaves.
When You Water. We’ve said it a lot in the past with the impatiens downy mildew breakout, but it goes for all plants, the best time to water plants is in the morning. If you water plants in the evening after work, it doesn’t give them a chance soak up the water and they sit in soaking wet sopil all night, which can cause rot. Watering plants in the middle of the day is not ideal either. Watering in the heat of the day means that the water will evaporate before it can even reach the roots.
What You Water. Everyone has their favorite flowers, and we’re not saying to abandon any of yours, but be mindful of what you are planting and the care it needs. If you plant a bunch of super thirsty plants, you will constantly be watering. You also don’t want to plant a drought tolerant flower that prefers dry soil, next to something that wants to be constantly moist. In other words, do not plant a border of sedum around a hydrangea bush.
How You Water. Seeing as we are recommending watering early in the morning, many people will set their water sprinklers to take care of the job for them. While this can be quite helpful for getting the job done, beware! Watering your plants every day for a few minutes can actually be ineffective. It is better to water your plants a few days a week for long periods of time than every day for a short period of time. Watering plants for a long time allows the water to penetrate the soil deeper, giving the roots more moisture and you healthier plants. However, if you set your sprinkler to water your plants for an hour a few days a week, be conscious of the weather. If we have an entire day of steady rain, you don’t want your sprinkler to go on the next day. This will oversaturate your plants and could cause more harm.
Mulch! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: mulch! Adding a thick layer of mulch, like two to three inches deep, will not only keep the weeds down, but it will help your soil stay moist, and keep your plants from drying out. So make sure you mulch your gardens and around the bases of plants that need moist soil. This will help save you some time when it comes to watering, and make your plants happy.
With school out for summer, kids have an abundance of time on their hands, and one good way to kill some of that time is with gardening. From their early years of picking flowers and watching butterflies, to older kids gathering the crops their vegetable gardens grow, any age child can learn and enjoy the garden. The most important thing to remember when it comes to gardening with children is creating an interest and encouraging their discoveries.
An important thing to remember when gardening with kids, is not to overwhelm them. Gardening can seem daunting for adults, let alone a preschooler, so it’s important to gage the activities for their age. For younger kids, simply exploring the garden can be the best way to introduce them to the idea of gardening. Looking at the bugs, smelling flowers and looking at the blooms can be awe-inspiring.
As they grow a little older, give children a little more responsibility by having them take care of the plants. Watering the plants, making plant labels, weeding and helping harvest the crops are great ways for elementary school children to enjoy the time in the garden. As kids grow even older, give them larger jobs like planting, moving rocks, or building a fence to keep the rabbits out of your garden.
As children age, their roles in the garden change, just as they change depending on what time of year it is. In the winter months, forcing paperwhites and amaryllis can keep their interest in plants and growing things, while the spring is a great time to watch seeds grow. Summer time is all about taking care of plants in the garden and fall is for harvesting your crops and cleaning up the yard to prepare for winter.
So why get your kids into gardening? The most obvious reason is that gardening gets kids outside & in touch with nature. Turning off the video games and movies, and getting out into the fresh air. Gardening is also a great form of exercise for kids. Another benefit of gardening with your kids is it may get them to eat their vegetables. Knowing they grew what is on the table keeps the adventure of gardening going. Some of the best vegetables to grow with kids include snap peas cherry tomatoes, pumpkins, winter squash, cucumbers and potatoes. Finally, gardening helps prepare kids for life. Putting in the hard work and seeing how it pays off in the end will show them that hard work gets results.
So no matter how old your children are, or what time of year it is, gardening can be a great experience for kids to learn and an amazing way to bond as a family.
With a new gardening season underway, this is your chance to break from your normal routine and try something new in your garden. Here are ten great ideas of what you can do differently this year.
- Don’t overthink it. Sometimes planting a simple container, with one or two plants, can far surpass the beauty of a complex container garden. Using the common geranium or petunia may seem boring, but they are so common because they are reliable. Use these plants as your fillers and try something new and different as your accent plant.
- Grow herbs. Herbs seem like an easy way to get into edible gardening, but no matter how basic they appear, herbs add great fragrance and taste to any garden.
- Try container edible gardens. If you don’t have a huge yard, or any yard at all, container gardens work well for many edibles. The key is to know the habit of your edible. For tomatoes, you will need a support or cage for the plant as it grows. For beans, you will need a trellis for the plants to grow up, and for cucumbers, try growing a bush variety to cut down on the need for supports. Peppers and strawberries are always an easy one to grow in containers. Just remember that perennial edible plants, like strawberries, rhubarb and blackberries for example, will need to be planted in the ground over the winter to come back the following year. You can also place the containers up against the house and bury them in mulch to help them winter over.
- Build raised beds. Along with edible gardening in containers, you can easily build a raised bed for your edibles. Raised beds also make great places to plant annuals as well. Incorporating these beds into areas of your yard that lack interest can help fill in the empty spaces of your yard.
- Plant with food. Along with the previous ideas, incorporating edible plants in with your annuals can add a new texture or fragrance that you would not normally get. Using herbs like dill can give a light and airy feel to a pot, while a rosemary topiary will not only give your planting structure, but an awesome scent as well. Just be sure that when you mix edibles with annuals, you feed your plants with an organic fertilizer that is safe to consume.
- Use the whole color wheel. There’s lots of green in the foliage we plant, but breaking away from that can help add depth to any garden. Plants like heuchera or coral bells, coleus, blue-green hostas and purple sweet potato vine, are just a few examples of colorful foliage you can use.
- Strategic planting. When planting your garden beds, especially with perennials, keep in mind the bloom time of the plants. You want to make sure you have flowers blooming throughout the year and not just during the early summer or the fall. Incorporating perennials with different bloom times will help give you an even look of color throughout the season.
- Plant for the bees. Despite their bad reputation for stinging, bees are a vital part of our gardens. Incorporating plants that attract these little guys can help the overall health of your yard. Planting natives in your yard, and having a water feature, can help keep the bees happy, and will most likely attract some beautiful birds, too.
- Plant for the monarchs. Monarchs are another pollinator we should be working to attract to our gardens. Plants in the milkweed family are always a safe bet for these, as well as butterfly bushes, salvia and alliums.
- Plant in the fall. There’s a lot going on in the spring. With the warm weather finally arriving, various sports games every weekend, and graduation parties to attend, finding time to garden can be hard. Waiting to do your perennial planting in the fall is one way to be sure you still get done what you need but don’t necessarily have to spend the time in your garden all at once. Planting in the fall can be cheaper, too, as many plants are put on sale later in the season.