Spring is hot on our heels and that means gardening season is not far away. As the weather warms up and the ground thaws, if you’re a seasoned gardener, you’re probably already planning this year’s crop. If you’re new to the world of gardening, here are some great tips for getting started.
Healthy soil plays host to numerous life forms beyond your plants, such as earth worms, centipedes, beetles, ants, and more. If you are building a new garden, using the earth in the ground may not be enough. Consider building smaller planters or retaining walls with wood or stone, as this allows you to add healthier soil on top. Once you have added the topsoil, be sure to mix it into the existing ground soil, as leaving the two layers separate can cause problems down the road for your plants.
If you are using a garden from a previous season, this time of year is great to turn over the soil. If you can, turn it over with a shovel or pitchfork and add in some compost or fertilizer each time. The organic material from the compost provides plenty of nutrition to the soil helping your plants grow healthy and strong. Turning it over also aerates the soil and loosens deeper layers allowing for better root growth.
There are three main types of soil: sand, silt, and clay. The ideal mixture for most plants is a fairly even mix of all three of these types, but sometimes will require additional nutrients from compost or fertilizer. When thinking about the type of garden you’d like to have, consider researching the ideal soil types for each plant. This way you can treat different sections of your garden’s soil differently, or you can make sure you’re only planting things that match the soil type you have.
To find out what type of soil you have, check out these instructions from The Spruce.
Do you compost at home? Composting is a sustainable disposal method helping reduce your food and yard waste, in addition to landfill waste. For those considering starting their first garden, consider building a compost bin in your back yard. By allowing your organic food waste (mostly fruits and vegetables, no meats) to break down, then mixing it with dead leaves, twigs, etc, you can make some incredibly nourishing fertilizer for your garden. Compost generally takes 3 to 6 months to mature, but once you get started, over time, you can accumulate quite a bit of valuable material.
We recommend placing your compost bin in the back corner of your yard, or at least in a place away from yours or your neighbour’s windows. For more information, visit the City of Winnipeg website.
Drainage for Differet Types of Garden
Drainage is one of the most important parts of planning a garden. Heavy rain and over-watering can be easily dealt with by making sure your plants are safe in their space.
Potted plants, regardless of whether they’re sitting on the ground or hanging, must have at least one hole in the bottom of the pot. This allows water to move through the soil and roots without sitting and saturating the plant. Remember to put a plate or a small basin underneath the pot to catch the water.
Against the House
Having a garden next to your home is common practice. Ensuring proper drainage helps avoid problems down the road. Some methods of making sure your garden drains properly include installing drainage pipes, generally PVC, with the goal of moving water away from your property. Another simple method is raising the level of your garden with topsoil, but on a grade. Before laying the topsoil down, consider placing vapour barrier-style sheeting, or roofing paper, underneath so water is encouraged to move down your grade, rather than seep into it.
Standalone gardens in your yard are a great way to keep water away from your home, but you don’t want your plants to suffer as a result. When building your garden, make sure it is raised above ground level, or at least it’s not installed in a lower part of your yard. By doing so, water can simply drain out through soil and into the ground. By placing it at a high point, you also avoid water accumulation which can further saturate the soil.
There are plenty of tools useful to a gardener. Depending on experience, comfort-level, or scale, the tools you use may vary greatly from your neighbour. For the beginner, a spade, trowel, hand rake, shears, and a good hose are enough to keep a simple garden satisfied. Having a handheld metal weeder also helps for pulling small spot weeds.
More experienced gardeners with larger gardens often make use of a full-sized hoe, wheel-barrow, and a saw for larger plants. There are other great gadgets to make use of, such as rain and snow gauges (to keep an eye on how much water your plants are getting naturally), chainsaws, rainwater barrels/water collection systems, and all-terrain-vehicles (for removing stumps and large boulders).
Regardless of garden size, or gardener experience. The number one must-have item is a good set of gloves.