Five steps for planting a successful garden
RAPID CITY S.D. – Whether it is flowers or produce, growing a garden can be a challenge. While some may naturally have a green thumb, others struggle to maintain their plants. With a few helpful tips from Garden Center Manager Anna Jones of Aspen Ridge Lawn & Landscape, you too can have a successful garden this season.
The first step is having a plan. It is easy to go to the store, pick out your favorite seeds, and plant them wherever, but this does not result in a successful garden. Every plant has specific needs for how much sun, water, and soil nutrients it needs. Certain plants do better around each other, while some will quickly overtake others and prevent growth. According to Jones, “you want to make sure you’re putting your plants in places that meet their needs. Make sure full-sun plants get at least 6+ hours of sun a day. If you have more shade-tolerant plants, maybe you could put them in the shade of your full-sun plants, or in another part of your garden entirely. You will also want to check on growing conditions, water levels, and fertilizer needs.”
Another way to make sure you have a great garden is to be aware of frost dates. Some plants, such as tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers will die if exposed to frost while in the ground. Knowing your average last day of frost will help you plant a garden that is not accidentally killed off by cool weather. While you wait for the last frost, you can start growing your plants indoors and get a jumpstart by transplanting them later.
Good soil is key to any fruitful garden. “The soil in the Black Hills is not known for being great. A good way to have a garden here is to have raised beds that you can fill with much richer soil. If you already have a raised bed, I suggest adding fresh soil or compost to your old soil and mixing them,” says Jones. Your soil should have lots of organic material in it to feed your plants. “The best thing to do is add compost to the current soil. It will greatly improve the quality of the soil and add needed nutrients back in that the plants can use,” says Jones.
Once you have planted your seeds, a good garden needs to be cared for. This includes weeding. Weeds will compete with your plants for light, water, and nutrients. Easy ways to keep weeds at bay is by taking a hoe and lightly stirring the top inch of soil around your plants to prevent weeds from seeding. Another way to prevent weeds is by using mulch on top of your soil to prevent new weed growth.
Watering is a gardening step we are all familiar with and unlikely to forget. However, you must water correctly to produce a great garden. According to Jones, “Watering is probably one of the most common issues I have seen, whether it is overwatering or under-watering. You never want your soil to fully dry out, but you also do not want it to be constantly wet and swampy. If the plant is in a pot, I like to stick my finger in the soil and if it still feels damp an inch in, then it is perfect. This doesn’t necessarily work for every plant or situation, but it is a good rule of thumb.” When you water is just as important as how you water. “Watering in the morning is the best time, followed by late afternoon when it has cooled off. If you do it in the middle of the day you run the chance of scalding the leaves on your plants. The best way is to water the soil directly and not get water on the plant itself,” says Jones.
Gardening can be tricky, but there are plenty of places in the Black Hills area that will help you at each step of the process, from planning to upkeep. Aspen Ridge Lawn & Landscape can provide plants, seeds, fertilizer, and compost mixtures, along with assistance from knowledgeable staff to help you create your dream garden.