[A head of lettuce from my garden]
Somebody recently called garden upkeep “hygene.” For some reason, the word clicked for me. Keeping the garden clean of weeds and pests and the plants trimmed and healthy is a lot like hygene of the body. Without good hygene, the body gets so dirty it can sicken. The same is true of a garden.
This year, I’m focusing on good garden hygene.
Here are 5 Tips for Garden Upkeep:
Look At The Garden Every Day–Check out the health of every plant, every day. Know what’s going on with them. They change rapidly and suddenly, so keep an eye out for issues.
Address Problems When They Start–When you see any problem with your plants, deal with it immediately. Yesterday, I smelled mildew around my melons. In the past I would have ignored this, but now I know better. I tracked the smell down to the irrigation spout, which was splashing water on the leaves, allowing mold to grow. I pulled out the moldy leaves and dug a hole for the water to collect in instead of sitting on the plant. If I had let this problem go, the whole plant would have gotten moldy. I nipped the problem in the bud (so to speak) simply by paying attention.
Learn To Identify All Insects–It’s important to know what is living in your garden and why they are there. Many insects are beneficial and eat other bugs, while others are harmful to your plants and others are neutral and just hanging out. Learn to know the difference so you can act accordingly.
Pluck Weeds When They’re Small–I’m lazy about weeding, but I’m trying to be better about it. Not only are young weeds easier to pull out because their roots are weaker, they haven’t had a chance to seed yet. There’s a gardening adage, “one year’s seed is seven years of weed.” This means one weed can make enough seed to produce weeds for years to come. On the flip side, if you’re diligent about weeding, eventually you’ll get the weeds under control and won’t have to weed so much. If that isn’t incentive to weed, I don’t know what is.
[French green bean]
Pick As Soon As Food Is Ripe–This sounds obvious, but it bears saying: when something is ripe, pick it. Don’t let ripe food sit on the plant. Not only will it get overripe, it will attract pests and keep the plant from producing more food. Keep up on harvesting and deal with your produce right away so you can have a happy, healthy garden.
What are your tips for garden upkeep?