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If you are planting a garden of any size this summer, you need to follow these 14 simple gardening tips to keep your plants healthy and growing!
Simple Gardening Tips
Gardening season isn’t far off now! If you’re anything like me, you’ve already ordered your seeds and are ready to go; just waiting for the right time to get them in the ground.
Today I have 14 simple gardening tips to help this year’s garden be your most successful! Of course, my Gardening and Preserving Journal can also help you make your garden (and subsequent harvest) the best it can possibly be, so I would highly recommend checking out the garden journal as well.
Know When to Plant Your Seeds
Some seeds require you to start them inside, especially if you live in a northern zone. Knowing when to start your seeds indoors or in the ground is an important tip for a successful garden.
Keep those seedlings safe and growing with a little reading and research. Most of the time, the key to success is just reading the back of the seed packet on any new seeds you are planting.
— Learn all about Starting Garden Plants from Seed.
Make Your Rain Gauge Easy to Read
Knowing how much water your outdoor plants get can make or break your garden. After a good rain, a rain gauge can be a little difficult to read.
Make it simple on yourself, and add a couple of drops of food coloring to the bottom of your rain gauge to make it easy next time it rains! Blue water is much easier to see and measure than clear water!
Paint Your Garden Tool Handles
When working in your garden, the most frustrating thing can be losing your shovel, spade, or trowel again. All the handles of these tools are always green or black, making them difficult to find amongst the plants.
Save yourself the look and find game by painting all the handles a bright or neon color, so you can easily find them in the plants.
If you use compost or manure in your garden, it’s important to know how and when to use it so it’s effective in your garden. It’s best to spread compost over the top of your tilled garden for about 2-3 weeks before planting in the early spring. This will give the compost time to stabilize and integrate and give you the best soil.
Start Your Seeds Indoors
Planting seeds outdoors can be scary if you live in the North as I do. You never know when it will decide to freeze just one more time. I like to remove some of the stress from planting by starting my seeds indoors.
I plant both annuals and perennials indoors to get them started. Plants like tomato plants, cabbage, peppers, and herbs like basil, thyme, and rosemary need extra time. This can be easily accomplished by starting them indoors.
Plants like corn, beans, radishes, spinach, lettuce, potatoes, carrots, or any other root vegetables should always be started outside when the last frost date has passed.
— Here’s a little more info on how I start my seed indoors each year.
Buy Quality Seeds
Buying seeds is one of my all-time favorite things about gardening. I look forward to it each year. Over the years, I’ve discovered some favorite companies and seed types that are perfect for my soil and my gardening zone.
—In this post you can find all of my seed-buying tips and info.
Reuse Egg Shells
When you’re done with your eggshells, don’t throw them away! Crush them up, and sprinkle them on your garden! This is a great way to give your plants a calcium infusion.
Even if you don’t compost, this is an easy way to reuse food waste! Here is an excellent fertilizer recipe that you can try using old banana peels and egg shells. I know it sounds strange, but trust me on this one. Adding eggshells to new planting beds can add great nutrients to the garden soil before you even get started.
—Find more ideas for What To Do With Eggshells.
Keep Your Nails Clean
Every year during gardening season, I struggle to keep my nails clean. I found an easy trick some time back to keep them clean all season. Before I work in the dirt with my hands, I scrape my nails across a soap bar. This fills up the space under your nails with soap, so dirt can’t get it.
Then when you come inside, wash your hands. The soap will disappear, and your nails will still be clean. Keeping your nails trimmed can also be helpful, but it doesn’t always keep the dirt from sticking.
—This Homemade Hand Cleaner is also nice to have on hand when you come in from the garden.
Pick Ripe Produce
Don’t let produce sit in your garden and become over-ripe. This will only encourage pests to come and feast on your produce. Pick your fruits and vegetables as soon as they’re ripe to keep this from being an issue.
Plants like broccoli, cucumbers, peas, kale, lettuce, and more can actually get bitter and tough if left too long on the plants. Plus if you are canning or freezing your produce you will need to pick them at peak ripeness (or just before) for the best flavor and the safest when canning.
—Not sure what to do with all of your extra veggies? Check out these Canning and Preserving recipes for some new ideas!
Keep Insects Away
Another good way to keep insects out of your garden without harmful pesticides is to plant certain plants around your garden carefully. Insects don’t like certain types of plants and will avoid them.
Plants like mums, chives, onions, and others will ward off some insects and keep your garden looking beautiful. This is called companion planting and is worth looking into if you have had insect issues in your garden in the past.
Reuse Milk Jugs
If it looks like it will freeze after you’ve planted your plants, you can use milk jugs to protect them. Cut the top off a milk jug, and use it to cover the plant. This will keep it warm, moist, and free from frost and act as a mini greenhouse until your plants are large enough to be on their own.
Just be sure and remove the milk jug before the temperatures get too warm or the sun exposure will roast your plants.
Plant for Your Area
Not all plants do well in all areas. Do some research to find out which plants will do best in the area you live in. Plant for your climate and your zone. If possible, choose seeds from a seed company within your zone.
Use Epsom Salt
Sprinkle Epsom salt around plants like tomatoes and peppers to give them a magnesium boost! They will flourish since these plants can easily become deficient in magnesium. It will also help prevent bottom rot on tomatoes and certain other plants and new plantings.
—Find more Uses for Epsom Salt.
Water in Low Light
During the summer months, the water can evaporate from your garden almost as fast as you water it. Make sure your plants are getting the most out of the water you’re giving them by watering during low-light conditions.
You can water in the very early morning, before the sun is all the way up, or at dusk, as the sun goes down. This will keep the water from evaporating so quickly and from “burning” your plants. If your plants are in full shade this won’t matter much.
If you need more than just a canning jar inventory printable and/or you want to keep track of more than just your canned foods you will want to grab a copy of my Gardening and Preserving Journal. The Journal contains printables to keep track of your canning, the foods that you freeze, your canning recipes, and so much more!
Here are some other gardening posts that you might enjoy:
What are some of your best simple gardening tips that others can use this summer?
Share your words of advice and inspiration in the comments!
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Merissa has been blogging about and living the simple life since 2009 and has internationally published 2 books on the topic. You can read about Merissa’s journey from penniless to the 100-acre farm and ministry on the About Page. You can send her a message any time from the Contact Page.
This post on Simple Garden Tips was originally published on Little House Living in March 2017. It has been updated as of April 2023.