Commentary by Noah Herron
Gardening can be tougher than most people imagine. The secret to a productive garden is taking the time now to plan your strategies with the garden. Below are five tips to help you get the most out of your garden space.
1. Build up your soil
One of the most important factors in keeping your plants healthy and producing an abundant harvest is good soil. Each year, you should be adding compost and fertilizer to your existing garden to help replace nutrients lost the year before. Tilling the compost into the soil will help create a deep, rich soil that encourages healthy growth and good root formation.
2. Keep critters out
An inexperienced gardener will find out fast that rabbits, chipmunks and other critters love a garden, too! If possible, a garden should have a perimeter fence made from chicken wire or other material. If a fence is not possible, use blood meal, garlic or urine to keep critters out. Remember to reapply every week or after rain.
3. Spacing matters
Knowing the correct spacing will help you maximize your yields, and it also cuts back on weeding and garden maintenance. Finding a handy spacing chart will show you the distances to plant per row, row spacing and expected yields.
4. Preventative disease and insect control
Each year, people come into the garden center and ask me what is wrong with their plants. By the time they come in, it’s usually too late. Find a good OMRI-certified spray to help prevent problems before they occur. A weekly spraying to help control disease and insects is better than waiting for a problem to occur!
5. Succession planting
Lastly, get the most out of the growing season. Most people are “one and done” when it comes to planting the garden. We have a long enough season that the same garden space can be used several times for different crops. In early spring, when frost is still present, grow cool-season crops. Then, move onto warm-season crops. In the fall, when warm-season crops are done, replace again with another batch of cool-season crops.