Step #5: Ready, Set, Grow!

  1. You’ve got your gear
  2. Prepared your plot and soil
  3. Bought your seeds or seedlings

Now it’s time to plant them and ensure they’ll get adequate sunshine and water as they grow.

Different plants have different needs for sunlight. Heavily sun dependent plants include tomatoes, squash, beans, eggplant, corn, and peppers. Some plants with a smaller solar appetite include leafy vegetables, potatoes, carrots, and turnips.

You can sow plants that need less sun in early spring or late summer when the sun is less vibrant. When choosing what plants go where, be sure to place taller plants on the north side of your plot to prevent over shadowing your small plants and stunting their growth.

After your seeds or seedlings are in the soil, use additional compost as mulch to improve water retention, help control weeds, and keep the roots cool in hot weather. Other mulching options include straw, grass clippings, untreated wood chips, gravel, or stone. Unfortunately, Mother Nature isn’t always nice enough to provide adequate precipitation for a garden. Also, depending
on your region, you might need to supplement it by watering your plants a little or a lot. If you notice a plant’s leaves, fruit, or buds start to brown or droop, increase the water supply. Be careful not to over water your plants in an attempt to make up for a lack of rainfall. Strangely enough, a plant that is over saturated with water it will show nearly identical signs of stress to if it were extremely dehydrated.

This happens because oxygen is unable to circulate to its roots and the plant basically asphyxiates. Green leaves and stems that turn yellow or lighten in color could also be a sign of overwatering. To confirm the problem, reason that waterlogged plants do not respond positively to more water. Some water-rich fruits and vegetables, such as melons and cucumber thrive when they receive more water, while others, such as tomatoes, cannot handle having their roots wet for a prolonged period. When watering your plant, always water them at soil level in the morning. Evening watering can make them more susceptible to disease and mildew. Sporadic deep watering is more effective than frequent shallow watering. Be diligent about watering and weeding your new garden and chances are, it will flourish in no time!

A good rule of thumb is to start small and begin with plants that are easy to grow. This way, you’ll avoid situations where the joy of your new hobby is replaced with frustration. I suggest starting with tomatoes; they are simple, hardy, and delicious! The most important thing to remember about gardening is, enjoy it! You will have successes and failures, most of the fun in gardening is learning as you grow!