Over 18 million Americans picked up gardening during the infamous year of COVID-19. This dramatic growth brought the total number of home gardeners to a staggering 63 million, up 38% from the year before.
This immense growth in the gardening community was not limited to the United States alone. In the United Kingdom, 27% of adults began gardening during the pandemic to help alleviate mental health issues.
In Canada, garden retailers reported an amazing 450% increase in sales, most of which came from millennials buying the necessary supplies to start at-home gardens. The surge in Canada was so extreme that shortages were reported nationwide for various gardening supplies, including lids and jars.
Since there’s a growing trend in gardening, we thought we’d help any green-thumb newcomers by giving some gardening hacks for a thriving home garden. Because while maintaining a garden can be rewarding for many reasons, it can also be difficult and time-consuming.
3 Healthy Soil Hacks
Regarding a healthy and thriving garden, the importance of good soil can’t be overstated. The quality of your soil will be the determiner of how your plants turn out. Good soil can lead to thriving plant production, and bad soil can stunt the growth of your crops.
1. Using Mulch
Mulch can be made with various convenient ingredients, including straw, grass clippings, wood chips, and leaves. Mulch is a great tool for improving the retention of moisture in the soil, controlling temperature, and fighting weed growth, all of which are important for a healthy garden environment.
Using mulch can be an excellent gardening hack to help gardeners spend less time watering or pulling weeds while maintaining a beautiful and healthy garden.
2. Using Coffee Grounds
Yes, you read that right. Used coffee grounds can reduce soil pH levels while increasing nitrogen levels. The used grounds can also stop weeds from growing and improve water retention.
Next time you make a warm cup of joe, consider utilizing your used coffee grounds rather than just throwing them out as usual. Simply sprinkle the grounds around your garden or add them to your mulch mixture. Just make sure you’re conservative on the amount of coffee grounds you use in your garden, as too much can become acidic and damage certain plants.
3. Buying Soil Testing Kits
Soil testing kits are available at various locations, including gardening centers or Amazon, allowing gardeners to understand better what’s going on with their at-home gardens. Things like pH levels or nutrient contents, vital to a healthy garden, can only be known through a soil testing kit.
According to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, at-home gardeners can better care for their gardens and, as a result, produce better plants, all through the utilization of soil testing kits.
5 Healthy Plant Hacks
For most, we pick up gardening in the first place because we can produce plants. However, a healthy plant requires a certain amount of care and attention.
1. Wise Watering Tips
Watering your plants is a simple enough task but involves a lot of strategy and skill to be done successfully. According to the University of Minnesota, the best time to water plants falls between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m., as this will prevent water loss from evaporation or wind drift.
If you’re up to the challenge, consider setting up a drip irrigation system in your at-home garden. This system prevents water waste compared to a conventional sprinkler system. Drip irrigation also prevents over-watering and potential weed growth.
If you’re looking for a simpler watering strategy, it’s recommended to water plants more deeply and infrequently than shallowly and often. If you're unsure if your plants need watering, check the moisture level by inserting your finger into the soil. If the soil is dry, it’s time to water. If the soil is damp, no further watering is required.
You can also take a shovel or hoe, insert it into the soil, and see if it’s clean or dirty when you pull it out. Your plant needs water if the shovel or hoe is clean and dry. Your plant is well-watered if the shovel or hoe is dirty and moist.
2. Companion Planting
Did you know pairing certain plants together can boost your garden's overall health and yield? It’s called companion planting, and it’s been used by gardeners for centuries. Companion planting can keep away pests and improve overall soil health.
If you’re getting ready to plant a specific species, consider researching its plant companion and planting them side by side.
3. Raised-Bed Gardening
Instead of planting directly on the ground, you might consider building or purchasing raised beds for your garden. Raised beds give plants better drainage, higher yields, and longer growing seasons. Raised beds are also easier to maintain as less leaning over is necessary when watering, weeding, or doing other plant-caring tasks.
Raised beds also offer unique and aesthetically pleasing designs for your home garden. Consider using barrels, railroad ties, or old washbasins for your raised garden beds.
If you want to get especially creative, try repurposing everyday household items for your garden; teapots, worn-down boots, or broken bird baths can all make for a collective and beautiful garden environment, thus an incredible gardening hack.
4. Organic Pesticides
Pesticides keep pests from infesting your plants and their environment. Unfortunately, most pesticides contain toxic chemicals to humans, animals, and the environment.
However, some organic pesticide options will keep the pests away while keeping the environment, your family, and your furry friends safe. Examples of organic pesticide options include neem oil, vinegar, citrus essential oils, insecticidal soaps, castile soaps, hot peppers, kaolin clay, or sulfur.
It’s important to note that while these organic pesticide options can help prevent plants from getting infected, they can not cure already infected plants. Early detection and pruning of infected plant parts will ensure a healthy garden environment.
5. Plant Pruning
Regular pruning must occur to maintain a healthy garden. Pruning is the act of removing diseased, damaged, or dead parts of the plant. This removal will allow your plant to grow more and yield more.
Some gardening hacks for proper plant pruning include selecting the right tools. For smaller plants, consider simple hand-held scissors. For larger, more complex plants, pruning saws might be necessary.
Always research beforehand to see which season is best for pruning your plant. Certain plants may need pruning during the winter, whereas others do better with spring-time pruning. Avoid over-pruning your plants by only pruning when necessary.
Gardening is an immensely fulfilling and rewarding hobby many worldwide have begun to partake in. But for some, jumping right into the green-thumb lifestyle can be daunting and overwhelming.
These quick gardening hacks will help you feel more confident and produce a healthier home garden for you and your family.
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