20 Unbreakable Rules for Becoming a Real Gardener

Reader Contribution by Ricardo Elisiário
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Sometimes we think of ourselves as gardeners, good ones; other times, we are too doubtful about our knowledge and skill to even publicly disclose our hobby. Here follows a list of 20 simple tips that’ll make your gardening practice something to be proud of — bragging allowed!

Have Your Garden as Organic as You Can

Why add chemical fertilizers, weed killers or pesticides when you can reap roughly as much by using none of those hazardous products that threaten your health and the life inherent to your garden’s earth?

Start with Easier Veggies and Flowers

Not everyone is born with a flair for plant care or a thumb already tinted green, so you better find easier alternatives to the plants you’d otherwise ambitiously try to start in your backyard.

Find the Most Suitable Spot for Each One

Some like the full sun of 30 degrees C (86 F) while others prefer shielding from such intense heat. A plant will never adapt all that well to a place that’s not theirs by right, so be conscious of this aspect to keep consequences to a minimum.

If You Don’t Have a Spot, Create It

Living in a third floor that has only 10-square-meters of balcony is no excuse to have you stuck without giving gardening a true chance. If you don’t have soil, you can also get pots and a bag of substrate in your trip to buy the first seeds. Get your hands dirty already!

Try growing a Winter Container Garden with these ideas from MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Give Plants Their Owed Space

Plants need not only a fair share of root space but also nutrients, water and light. By planting them as if they’re Siamese twins, you’re seriously compromising their full potential.

Decent Soil Is a Must…

The soil is where a plant sinks its roots, thus to deprive it of a medium that has the right ingredients for prosperous growth is nothing but a great mistake. In case your garden has poor dirt, you can always invest in some that’s store-bought, otherwise, what can you even aspire to harvest?

…But Soil Is Nothing Without Good Drainage

Whenever there’s flooding, by an excess of rain or anything malfunctions, and you get your garden entirely soggy, be sure that if you don’t find a quick and easy solution for that, the plants will shortly be as good as gone. Better prevent than later try to fix what went wrong.

Gardens Only Grow in Their Season

You may try to deceive nature, but I warn you that it’s not that easy–not at all. Species have their seasons and their life cycles, so trying to fool them is a lost cause. Why even try it when there are so many plants especially built for each particular season?

Trimming Excessive Growths Isn’t Optional

If you see vegetable growth that just doesn’t belong or isn’t doing the plant any favor, then better not leave it there, attached and sucking on the reserves. Prune when needed and sometimes even when it isn’t.

Incubate Your Seedlings at Home

If you’re just starting, and your skills working the soil and making good plant beds are still quite nonexistent, you should start by sowing your garden at home. Find a well-illuminated spot, preferably warm, and easily you will see your plants sprout and get ready to be planted out-of-doors.

Water Is Needed But Your Plants Cannot Swim

Drought kills, but so does drowning. To water your garden on a schedule is essential when the weather gets a bit too fiery, but dousing it excessively will bring more negative effects than positive ones, particularly if your soil is more clay than sand.

Let Your Organic Compost Cure for Long

Fresh rotten scraps that have yet to decompose and cook tend to have higher doses of harmful elements which can burn your garden’s roots. Let the compost bake for 2 to 4 months and you’ll end up with a great mix, full of absorbable nutrients and good microflora.

Be Ready to Wait for Some Time

A plant’s germination, growth and flowering stages, right until the fruits swell and ripen, are a whole series of events that take time. Now, if you’re of the impatient kind, there’s no other way than calming down or choosing plants with faster cycles.

Avoid Messing With Wet Soil

Plowing and hoeing the earth when it’s too damp is a great way to create a soil structure that isn’t as functional as that of a soil labored when the time is right. Work it when it’s neither so dry it gets powdery, nor wet enough to sculpt statues out of it.

Don’t Let Plants That Aren’t Ready, Flower

If you have a new tree, bush or really any plant that should still be focused on growing taller and stronger, do not allow it to bear fruit or its energy will be wasted in a way that often has permanent effects on future yields.

Add Every Bit of Organic Waste to the Pile

Kitchen scraps have much hidden life. Coffee grounds, peels and leaves, food leftovers and rotten things are the greatest addition to the compost pile. Throwing them in the undifferentiated bin is not only incorrect but also a big waste of nutrients.

Give Your Plants Sun (or They Won’t Flower)

If ever you worry that your flowers aren’t doing what their name says they ought to — flower — that’s probably because you’re not giving them the light they needed to blossom at the expected moment.

Avoid Watering Your Plant’s Leaves Too

Molds, rots and even some tiny insects that enjoy a good bath tend to appreciate those lousy gardeners that water their plants’ leaves whenever the evening comes and it’s the moment for the daily irrigation.

Allow Fallen Leaves to Be Incorporated

Fall is the time of decay and of endless riches when one has heaps of fallen leaves and nothing to do with them. And I don’t mean jumping into them. Instead, incorporate them into the usual compost pile because organic feeds organic, without exception.

Grow Only What Gives You True Pleasure

You might sometimes listen to words of advice and incentive. Equally, there is some pressure to cultivate in a certain way and strive to achieve a garden that isn’t really the thing you wish it to be. Be true to your taste and grow only that which makes sense to you. It’ll be much easier, and potentially more prosperous, because working against our wishes is never the right course to take.