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April 11, 2022

Spring, and New Life

It’s so appealing, isn’t it, walking through your neighborhood and seeing fresh life popping up all around you? (This is especially the case if you, like me, live in a place with harsh winters). Perhaps you have a friend who has a very impressive home garden, so that their yard explodes in color and life every spring. Even in urban centers communal gardening plots have arisen, so that anyone can step in and lend a hand. Check out below to learn some gardening terms and tips, and get ready for spring!

But, what do you do?

It’s such a nice idea, growing something with your own hands, but it can be a daunting prospect. There are so many factors that go into a successful garden: plant type, soil, sun, water, that you may get discouraged before you even start. But don’t worry, we can solve this! While it’s not a comprehensive list certainly, we wouldn’t claim that one could become a master gardener after a single article, these tips will help you confidently break the soil, and get ready for a bountiful growing season!

Start Small

While you may have aspirations to end up with a garden that’s the envy of all who sees it, it’s best to start with more modest ambitions. If you start in a single planter with one or two types of produce, you’re more likely to be able to control the variables which lead to a successful season of growth. Equally, if your plants seem to be struggling, you’ll have an easier time trying to figure out what went wrong if your crop is small.
(As a note, your author began their growing journey with a single window planter: a great option for anyone living in an apartment, or somewhere without green space.)

Mind the Sun

Not all outdoor locations are equal when it comes to sunlight. Before you get to planting your garden, take a few days to observe the sunlight in your growing space. Many plants need at least 6 hours of sunlight every day in order to grow. If you have a spot in your garden that routinely gets low light, you may ask an employee at your garden center (or wherever you’re buying your plants) if they have recommendations for plants that can survive in low light.

Easy Access to Water

Each plant has their own requirements when it comes to how much water they need to survive, and how frequently they need to be watered. Once you choose your plants, you can find out these schedules from the internet, or the workers at your garden store. However, you can rough it; a safe rule of thumb is to poke your finger into the soil around the plants, about 1 inch deep. If you can’t feel any moisture, then it’s time to water.
But, more than frequency of watering, you should keep in mind access to water when setting up your garden. Water is heavy. Unless you’re looking to get a workout alongside your gardening, you may not want to carry buckets or cans of water a long distance. Therefore, if you have a choice, set up your garden in a place that can easily be accessed with a hose, or other water source.

Plant Properly

Before you put plants in the ground, spend some time making sure your soil is ready. This involves ensuring there are no weeds or rocks in your dirt, and adding any mulch or fertilizer you may need. Additionally, you may want to add nutrient-rich soil to the mix (which we’ll talk about in the next section!).
Once your garden is clear of obstacles, and primed for success, you can turn your attention to actually getting things into the ground. First of all, be gentle with your plants. Most new plants, no matter the type, have delicate stalks, and root systems which, if damaged, can severely hinder your chances of a healthy garden.
It is also worth spending some time researching your plants before planting. Each plant has their own requirements for how deep they need to be planted, as well as the optimal space to allow for roots. This isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, as plants are adaptable, but, if you want to give your plants the best chance to thrive, it’s worth the time!

Soil Matters

At an advanced level of gardening, soil is a complex variable which can be closely monitored to dictate the success of your garden. While that level of care and dedication can wait until you see if gardening is really a passion of yours, there are steps you can take in order to get yourself off on the right foot. Starting your garden with nutrient-rich potting soil will give your fledgling plants a fighting chance!

Garden Vocabulary List

One defining factor of gardening is that you have plenty of time to wait between planting and harvest; why not spend some of that playing Words with Friends? Here is a list of garden vocabulary words to help you reap a bounty of Word victories!

  • Annual

    10 points

    A plant that lives for only a single growing season.

  • Biennial

    14 points

    A plant that lives for two growing seasons.

  • Clay

    10 points

    The tiniest particles found in soil.

  • Crabgrass

    17 points

    A generic name for weedy grasses that spreads via rhizomes, making it very difficult to eradicate them.

  • Cultivar

    17 points

    A plant variety developed through selective breeding.

  • Cutting

    14 points

    A short piece of a plant that is clipped off for propagation purposes.

  • Deciduous

    16 points

    Plants that lose their foliage during the winter months.

  • Dioecious

    14 points

    Term for species in which male and female flowers are produced on separate plants.

  • Drainage

    12 points

    The ability for water to pass freely through the soil.

    Note: Have these letters, but can’t find a place to play them? Try GARDENIA! Same letters, different order.

  • Evergreen

    16 points

    Plants that retain their foliage throughout the year.

  • Furrow

    13 points

    A small trench made in the soil for planting seeds; may also refer to the depression between raised planting beds.

  • Habit

    10 points

    Manner of growth.

  • Hybrid

    14 points

    A plant cultivar resulting from the intentional cross-pollination of two closely related species or varieties.

  • Invasive

    17 points

    Plants that spread aggressively and are difficult to eradicate.

  • Loam

    8 points

    Fertile, well-drained soil; loams have an ideal balance of sand, silt, and clay particles, along with abundant organic matter and humus content.

  • Nitrogen

    12 points

    Essential nutrient responsible for green vegetative growth in plants.

  • Perennial

    15 points

    A plant that lives year after year.

  • Subsoil

    12 points

    The infertile layer of soil beneath topsoil that contains minerals, but little to no biological activity or organic matter.

  • Tilth

    8 points

    A qualitative measure of soil quality, based on parameters such as organic matter content, water-holding capacity, and texture.

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