My Mom and Grandpa were avid gardeners. I am in the midst of thinking about and planning a new flower garden and assessing what vegetables grew best this year. My garden is one of my simple pleasures (though it requires work.)
Whether you’re an amateur gardener or a professional, there are many things you might not know about your garden. For example, did you know that you can use baking soda to grow sweeter tomatoes? If you live somewhere with a high concentration of wild deer, did you know that they can jump over eight feet, clearing your garden fence with barely an effort?
Sometimes, a lack of knowledge simply means you get to discover some fun trivia about your favorite outdoor place to be, but sometimes knowing more about what your garden needs could mean the difference between a healthy garden and an unhealthy one. From growing plants to greenhouse etiquette, everyone could stand to learn a little something more about their garden, and we hope this list teaches you something. Here are 8 things you might not know your garden needs.
This is more of a point specifically regarding greenhouses than a general garden one, but it’s important if you want to grow out-of-season plants or food. It’s impossible to overstate the importance of good greenhouse ventilation. If your plants aren’t getting enough air, then no matter how much you water them and care for them they’re not going to grow. Your job is to simulate the plant’s natural growing environment as much as possible, and that environment always includes proper ventilation.
Research has suggested that exposing plants to sound will help them to grow. Of course, your plants will be constantly exposed to sound no matter where you are; there is no such thing as true silence when it comes to your garden, after all. Still, standing next to them and specifically playing sounds can help to stimulate their growth. Some studies have even suggested that plants really like jazz and classical but don’t love rock music, so tailor your tastes accordingly!
3. Coffee grounds
Coffee grounds are just one of the things you can use as a natural substitute for composting. The list also includes banana skins, or eggshells, or any other organic matter. You don’t actually need to compost soil in order to help your plants absorb nutrients as they decompose; the chances are you’ve already got plenty of things in your home that will do the job just fine. You can also use weeds, paper, or wood, among other things.
4. Baking soda
As we said earlier, applying baking soda to your tomatoes can help them to become sweeter. Any crop for which you wish to reduce the acidity can benefit from an application of baking soda. Believe it or not, baking soda is actually a wonder product when it comes to gardening. Not only is it great for sweetening sour crops, but it’s also an excellent way to fertilize wilting plants, clean birdbaths, and scrub your garden furniture free of any pesky stains.
Depending on what kind of animal you want to attract to your garden, it’s a good idea to keep weeds like dandelions and clovers rather than simply uprooting them. Some weeds, like chickweed, can be great litmus tests for whether your garden soil is fertile. Rabbits are attracted to clover, while butterflies and other insects will flock to dandelions because of their colour and fragrance. If you want to cultivate a wild garden with lots of animals in it, keep the weeds around.
Far from simply shoveling it away during the cold winter months, you might actually want to keep snow around in your garden. Snow can act as a fantastic insulator and can help to keep your plants warm; it packs in around them and protects them from the frigid air around them. When snow melts, thanks to chemicals it picks up in the air, it can also act as a great fertiliser. There are drawbacks to snow – it can weigh down plants and it isn’t great for evergreens – but it can be more helpful than you know.
Again, your first instinct upon seeing insects in your garden may well be to get rid of them, but to do so would be to make a mistake. The fact is that there are a lot of beneficial insects that do great work in your garden, so getting rid of them would mean more harm than good. These insects include hoverflies (excellent for ridding you of aphids), ladybirds (carnivorous), and butterflies (great pollinators). Think about what you’re doing before you call in the pest control people.
You’d be amazed how many people seem to think they can simply plant a garden, edge the lawn, and then let nature take its course. The fact is that if you want to maintain a great-looking garden then you’re going to need to put in quite a lot of work to keep it looking good. That means regular watering and trimming of plants, re-edging lawns if they need it, and sweeps for pests and other problems. Don’t simply leave your garden alone because you think you’re “done”.