We recently got the chance to sit down with Brian Minter, from Minter Gardens & The Country Garden Store for the inside scoop on how to make it look like you know what you’re doing in the garden! If you’re anything like me, gardening can be wee bit scary because I have no idea what I’m doing. I’ve spent many hours wandering the garden aisles at home improvement stores, trying to decide which planters to get, which soil to use and which plants to buy. I felt a bit silly asking for help for what seemed like really simple gardening. I’d end up making purchases, heading home, trying to get through it and then throwing out my wilted plants a few weeks later.
So this year, I was determined to learn the basics by asking lots of questions. Not only was Brian able to help us get a better idea of where to start, he also filled us in on the common mistakes beginners make and how to avoid them. We focused on container gardening, which is perfect for herbs, cucumbers, strawberries, lettuce and tumbler tom tomatoes.
1. Pick A Container That’s Big Enough
Whether you’ve decided to grow something to eat (fruits and veggies) or something pretty to look at (flowers), it’s important to choose a container that is big enough for your plants. You want to choose a container approximately 14-18 inches wide with adequate drainage holes on the bottom. Yes, you will have to ensure there is something below to catch the draining water, but a plant with proper drainage is a happy one plant.
2. Don’t Cheap Out on the Soil
The soil world can be a confusing one. With so many different kinds at varied price points, it can be hard to tell which ones are worth the extra dollars. If you want your plants to bloom, it’s important to choose a professional growers soil mix. It’s usually written on the bag’s packaging but if you aren’t sure you can always ask. Don’t worry you won’t sound silly if you tell them you are looking for a professional growers soil mix – they may even think you know what you’re talking about! If you are growing vegetables and are looking to go the organic route, be sure to look for quality organic soil blends as there are a number of them out there.
3. Don’t Plant Too Deep!
Whether you are starting with seeds, or repotting starter plants (ones that have had time to grow already), make sure not to plant them too deep into your pot. Pay attention to how deep they are planted in the pot that you purchased them in, and aim for the same depth in your new plant. Planting seeds, vegetables or flowers too deep will cause them to have to work too hard to grow and may cause them to die. The one exception to this rule is tomatoes, since they are naturally able to continue to grow even when planted deeply in a planter.
4. Use a Time Release Fertilizer
If you purchased a quality soil mix, you are not required to purchase anything additional to add to the soil mixture. If you are looking to give your flowers an extra boost (to help them grow, or just keep them healthy), look for time-release fertilizers to add to the top of the soil only. As you water the plants, it activates the fertilizers and continues to release small amounts of them that will be absorbed by the plant throughout the day. These kinds of fertilizers last approximately 4-6 months, so you don’t need to worry about continually adding more to your plants.
5. Watch Your Watering
When it comes to watering your plants the general rule of thumb is to give your plants something to drink in the same manner you give yourself something to drink – when you’re thirsty! When the soil of your plants starts to get dry, give them a really good drink. You want to give them enough water that the soil becomes moist, but not so much that there is extra water left sitting on top of the soil. To help prevent plants from molding, only water your plants in the morning and never at night. This gives your plants the chance to absorb the moisture before the dampness of the evening, keeping them much healthier.
Finally…. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions!
Although you may think you sound silly asking the very basic of questions, you can be sure lots of other people have had the same ones! Nursery owners are recognizing that the more people become involved with technology, the less time they end up spending outside in their gardens. Not only do they want to be there to answer your questions, the majority of them are actually excited to be given the opportunity to share their passion and knowledge with you!
We hope that these guidelines have inspired you to get out and create something beautiful for your backyard, front porch or even your tiny balcony! Container gardening is an affordable way to test out the gardening waters and still have something to show off to others once you get the hang of it.
What are some great gardening tips that you’ve learned over the years?