Welcome to Gardening Essentials! This series serves as a how-to guide for beginner gardeners, with helpful tips and tools compiled by me, a 7-year gardening veteran.
Spring is upon us, which means it's time to start our plantings. Your first course of action is to plan out what to grow, how long the plants need to be seeds, and which plants to grow next to each other (companion planting). Find all this and more in the 2018 Farmers Almanac. It has advice for every growing region, helping you determine which plants grow best based on the climate.
Now you're ready to get started! But before you do, make sure you avoid these three common pitfalls of a spring garden.
Weeds compete with your plants for space, nutrients, and sunlight, and are often difficult to fight. Instead of tediously pulling weeds by hand, which is hard on the lower back, try out a recent discovery of mine: the scuffle hoe. This simple and effective tool scrapes against the ground, ripping up weeds that crop up. (Hot Tip: Before you buy, use one of our Ace Hardware promo codes and save on shipping by selecting free in-store pickup.)
The second most pesky thing in garden maintenance is keeping the critters away. An easy solution is to create a barrier by surrounding the garden with a chicken wire fence. Keep those bandits from crawling under the fence by securing the wire to the ground with tent stakes.
Companion planting can also prevent your plants from being nibbled on. For example, dill and basil are ideal for planting next to tomatoes, as they ward off a tomato plant's natural predator: the hornworm.
Have bad luck keeping plants alive? The best way to turn that black thumb green is by getting advice from a local gardening club (local is key, as regions differ in terms of which plant is ideal to grow and when). Home Depot has a fantastic program; it's free to join AND you get a $5 promo code. The Home Depot Garden Club offers regional advice on when to plant, proper soil conditions, and other useful gardening tools specific to your growing zone.
Keep checking back throughout the growing season for more tips and advice on cultivating a bountiful garden. Happy growing!