How Does Your Garden Grow?
By Megan Alexander
I have always been mystified by a garden’s intrigue; garden paths leading to unknown hidden enchantments, the silent language between the flowers and the sun. As children, we are introduced to a garden’s magic through literature, such as The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett and The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter.
As adults, the garden becomes an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and the tales that we read as children become real as we watch the robin on our garden wall and shout at the bunny to shoo from our lettuce patch. Perhaps you are an avid gardener, knowing the names of each flower and vegetable, when to plant, and where.
Others may not know the difference between a spade and a hoe.
The good news is it is never too late to start your own garden as long as you have, “a little bit of earth,” as Mary Lennox so simply asked for in The Secret Garden, “to plant seeds in…a garden.” For gardening guidance, a useful tool is The Old Farmer’s Almanac. Its planting calendar allows you to enter your location and returns a chart guiding novice vegetable gardeners.
Another useful aide is The Old Farmer’s Almanac’s flower guide explaining how to plant, grow, and care for specific flowers. A garden adds such beauty to real estate and adds enjoyment to the days of its caretaker. Like most things, it takes planning, patience, and persistence, but in the end, the results will be worth it.
10 gardening tips from Megan Alexander:
1. Invest in a few good pairs of gardening gloves to protect your hands and to have an extra set when one is in the wash. Other useful gardening gear includes a light long sleeve shirt, hat, and rubber boots that can be hosed off. Gardening gets messy!
2. Never start gardening without bug spray. There are several varieties on the market now, including natural formulas to keep those bugs away. Ask your local nursery about the options.
3. Mulch your flowerbeds to protect the plants. Mulch insulates the roots, helps absorb water, and offers nutrients to help plants stay healthy.
4. Watch out for weeds! As soon as the snow melts, treat your flowerbeds with a weed preventative, such as Preen for gardens. This will stave off any weeds that have not begun to grow yet and will need to be reapplied about every 3 months. Make sure you read the labels to ensure the application will not harm the flowers and keep out of reach of pets and children.
5. Water, water, water! Plants love water, especially in the hot summer. If you notice your flowers wilting, a quick drink will perk them back up.
6. Remember, when planning your garden, that perennials will come back every year and annuals only bloom once. It is nice to plant annuals, such as marigolds, late spring, around a perennial garden so they will bloom into unexpected pops of color when the perennials begin to fade toward the fall.
7. Many plants spread, so they need to be properly spaced when planted. Be sure to plant according to any instructions that come with the seeds or plants you purchase.
8. Perennials multiply over time. Crowded gardens can be thinned out by replanting overcrowded flowers into new spaces. Transplanted flowers need lots of water for a couple of weeks following their move.
9. Perennial gardens need to be deadheaded in the fall, so make sure you carve out time to cut down all perennials once they are past their bloom.
10. Birds, butterflies, and bumblebees love flowers, so get ready to see them have a great time in your garden! It is exciting to see how busy flower gardens are with all the activity! Hummingbirds enjoy the bee balm. Birds like the seeds of the cone flowers in the fall. Bees and butterflies are constantly busy pollinating. It really is a sight to behold!
If you are beginning a garden, you probably have a great list of questions, such as:
How do I choose what to plant for my space? What will grow well in our region for sunny yards or shady yards?
What can I plant that will help keep pests away?
Do I plant seeds right in the ground or purchase baby plants in a nursery and place them? How do I decide?
Are there common plants to avoid because they are harmful to pets?
What are good things to plant in small spaces?
Which blooms last the longest?
What can I plant that is easy to care for?
When can I start planting? Does it need to be a certain temperature outside?
For these types of questions, I recommend consulting the experts. It is good practice to build a relationship with a local nursery, as they are experts in our region and can guide you in the right direction. The Old Farmer’s Almanac is a great resource and online searches for your particular questions usually return great results.
Welcome, Spring and happy gardening!
About the Author
- Licensed Real Estate Salesperson
- Certified Public Accountant, New York
- B.S. (Highest Honors) – Accounting, Rutgers University
- Co-Owner, Country House Bed & Breakfast in Queensbury
View Megan’s full bio here