Secrets to a Healthier Garden

With 40 years of gardening under my belt and my Master Gardener Certification, I NEVER profess to know it all. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I find that the more I learn, the less I know.

However, with that in mind, I would like to share some secrets I know to have a healthier garden.

  1. Start with healthy plants. I purchase my plants from Moss Greenhouse. I can individually select and don’t have to baby sickly stock. They are well grown and I believe have a secret source of fertilizer that makes them superior. They are recognizable anywhere you go. They also grow zone appropriate garden plants.
  2. Water your plants with a diluted seaweed solution periodically. The benefits are amazing.
  3. Harden off your plants before planting them outside. When I pick them up at Moss, they will sit on my back patio, out of the wind and be protected while they acclimate. If I have to run the flats indoors for a night, it’s easy to do.
  4. Do not till or dig excessively. I use black plastic sheeting with drip lines underneath. I will leave it for several years. When we do have to remove it, the worms have done their job and are close to the surface. Their rich castings are evident. Over tilling, destroys them. I will every few years put new compost, leaves, manure, etc down to recharge the whole garden area.
  5. Experiment with plants. Determine what works well for your purpose.
  6. Protect Transplants with floating row covers immediately after planting. It’s much easier to avoid cabbage moths that way.
  7. Pull weeds. Weeds are opportunists. You give them an inch and they’ll take a mile. They are survivalists and hog the nutrients and water from your plants. Oh, you can eat certain weeds, but I prefer vegetables thank you very much!
  8. Water regularly. Drip irrigation is best because it prevents leaf burn and a large loss of water due to evaporation. Drip irrigation makes it easier to keep water consistent and avoid overwatering. Stressed plants due to lack of water don’t perform as well.
  9. Watch your plants for predators. Look under the leaves for eggs. Become familiar with the eggs of potato beetles, squash bugs and other nasty culprits. However, learn to discern the lady bug egg because you WANT them there.
  10. Compost, compost, compost! Leaves, vegetable matter, straw, are great to help fertility. Avoid greasy foods, bacon grease, meat…anything that will draw flies and rodents. Coffee grounds, pine needles are great. You have your wet and dry mixes to layer like lasagna. Don’t put diseased plant remnants in your compost though. I also question grass clippings if you have your lawn professionally treated. Chemicals are added to the grasses…nitrogen being fine, but some have weed suppressing chemicals that can do more harm than good. Be careful what you use.

These are basic ideas to add to the success of an amazing garden. Have fun and get to work!