Whether you’re looking to grow some delicious produce or beautiful flowers, these 8 tips and tricks are a must know for all gardeners.

  1. Apply only composted, rotted manure that has cured for at least six months to your soil. Fresh manure is too high in nitrogen and can “burn” plants; it may also contain pathogens or parasites. Manure from pigs, dogs, and cats should never be used in gardens or compost piles because they may contain parasites that can infect humans.
  2. Perennials generally need three years to achieve mature growth. Remember the adage that they “sleep, creep, and leap” over the three-year period.
  3. Deadheading is a good practice for perennials and annuals. The goal of annual plants is to flower, set seed, and die, removing the old blooms tells annual plants to produce more flowers. Removing spent flowers also encourages plants to place energies into stronger leaves and roots instead of seed production. Avoid deadheading plants grown especially for their fruits or pods.
  4. Grow vegetables in a location that gets at least 8 hours of direct sunlight every day. Most vegetables need full sun to perform well. If you have some shade, try growing cool-season crops such as lettuce, spinach, radishes, Brussels sprout and cabbage.
  5. The best approaches to controlling weeds in the garden are hand-weeding and hoeing. Avoid deep hoeing or cultivating that can bring weed seeds to the soil’s surface. Weed early and frequently so weeds do not reach the seed. Use mulch to smother and prevent annual weeds.
  6. The optimal temperature for ripening tomatoes is between 68 – 77 degrees F. It is too hot for plants to produce lycopene and carotene, the pigments responsible for the fruit color, when it reaches 85 degrees F.
  7. Deadhead spent flower on spring-blooming bulbs so the plants send energy to the bulbs instead of using it to make seeds. Leave the foliage until it turns brown and then it can be removed with a gentle tug. The leaves store nutrients needed for the bulb to bloom the following year.
  8. When transplanting container-grown plants, dig a hole larger than the soil ball of the plant to aid with root establishment.