The sun is out, the trees are in bloom and the grass is slowly starting to turn green. Spring has sprung! Whether it has been a lack of space or not enough time in your day, there are no more excuses. This is the summer you are going to finally plant your garden and watch it grow. But before you race out to your local horticultural store, we at Workman’s Friend have a few tips for the new gardener that will ensure your first growing season is a success.
Educate yourself about gardening
Like any new project or hobby, before you make a single purchase or commitment gather as much information as you can. That might mean going to the library and checking out some books on gardening specifically in your geographical region. Or if you’re more of a magazine reader then subscribe to a gardening one or buy a couple of monthly publications from the grocery store. It also wouldn’t hurt to interview friends, family members or neighbors who are avid gardeners. Don’t be embarrassed about asking them what you think are ‘dumb’ questions. Another great resource would be your local horticultural association or gardening club. They would know what plants, shrubs and vegetables would grow best in your specific climate. Remember, you are new to this and need to gather as much information as possible before you dig.
Consider your time
It’s important to size your garden to the amount of time you’re willing to spend on it. If you create a garden that is too large it will become a burden to you. Instead start small and once you get the hang of it, then you can expand your plot to suit your needs. Remember, gardens require on-going attention, on average 20-30 minutes a day including upkeep, pruning, watering, de-bugging, preventative maintenance, feeding and trouble-shooting. In your first year why not start with a few pots or a few different plants in a raised bed. Keep it simple Once your first season is done you can decide if you want to have a bigger garden next year.
Buy the gardening essentials
Whether you’re planting vegetables, plants or flowers you’re going to need the basics to get started and to be successful. If soil is the soul of your garden, then it is compost that feeds it. Compost is a mixture of organic decaying matter. Though you can buy it at your local gardening store, depending on the size of your plot you might want to have it delivered directly to your home.
Once the compost has been laid, then it’s time for mulch which keeps your soil nice and moist. It not only traps in moisture thereby reducing the need to water so often, it also helps reduce the time you spend weeding. You can chose from wood chips, straw or even stone or rock as mulch.
A gardener is nothing without his tools of the trade. Start with a basic set of gardening instruments including a three-prong cultivator that you can use to make rows, weed and perform other activities. Other good tools include a trowel for digging in small gardens and a dibbler, which helps to make holes in the ground for seeds and plants. Don’t forget to buy a good quality garden hose with a spray fixture at the end to gently release a shower when trying to water your plants. Most importantly don’t forget the essentials you might need. This includes a sunscreen, a wide-brimmed hat, long sleeves and Workman's Friend Barrier Skin Cream. All of these items will go a long way to protect your skin from sun damage while working outside.
Select a location for your garden
Do you plan on planting in pots, a raised bed or in an open field? This is an important question that you will probably be able to answer once you decide what it is you’re going to grow. Both of these questions are usually answered during your preliminary research and question asking period. Another factor that determines your location is the amount of sunlight your plants, flowers or vegetables may require. For instance, vegetables and herbs need a full six hours of direct sun every day; whereas, there is more choice with flowers. You can choose them based on how much sunlight your yard gets. One of the biggest mistakes that new gardeners make is they plant a garden out of the way and then promptly forget about it. The solution is to create a garden that is close to your house and near a spigot or source of water. Both will help make your first growing season a successful one.
Know your growing season
Many new gardeners are very excited to get started and as a result end up planting too early. The first sign of mild weather and they’re outside potting and seeing. If you do this too soon, your greenery will get hit by frost and die. Additionally, if you start your garden before it’s time and your plants do manage to survive through the cold and wet they won’t do as well as those planted later. The solution is to check with a master gardener or your local horticultural society. They will be able to tell you, when is the best time to start planting in your area.
One last seed
So you may not grow the best carrots or have prize-wining tulips the first year. Instead, what your garden will produce is a little exercise, a chance to connect with nature and above all-fun. Remember, you may not have as beautiful tomatoes or hydrangeas as your neighbor. But don’t compare your garden to theirs. What you didn’t see was all the aphids, mildew and dying plants they’ve had throughout the years to achieve their success. Keep in mind that gardening is a long-term hobby offering many challenges and sweet-smelling rewards.
Workman’s Friend Barrier Skin Cream is a light-weight and odorless hand cream perfect for any gardener. A simple application of our heavy-duty formula will keep your hands moisturized while you get them dirty. Then when it’s time to clean-up and simple wash and wipe and you’re done. Check out our website at www.workmansfriend.com