The 10 Spot: 10 Gardening Tips to Nurture Your Own Green Thumb
The hardest part about being a rookie gardener is getting started. From what to plant and where, to prepping your soil and space, there are heaps of question marks. Thankfully, we scoured the region for local gardening experts who offered up some great advice.
Plant to attract beneficial insects and pollinators, including hummingbirds, butterflies, bees, and other pollinators by planting what they like. Among the many benefits: a garden swirling with fun-to-watch natural predators of bad insects.
GET IT RIGHT
Choose the right plant for the right place. Selecting new plants is the fun part of any landscape project, but don’t overdo it. Plant according to mature sizes and allow your plants to fill in. You’ll save labor, money, and water, plus your new plants will have the opportunity to look their best.
Deer—we have them, even if you don’t see them. If you’re growing anything edible, fencing is the only way to really stop them. You can spend a lot of money on plants and other deer deterrents, but start with a fence.
WEED IT AND REAP
Pull weeds when they’re small. If you have a large area, try your hand at solarizing the soil with clear plastic. The heat will cook and kill the weeds and seeds.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING
In spring, plant warm-season vegetables and berries, like beets, peppers, corn, and strawberries. Position rows north to south to maximize sun exposure (at least six hours per day); use organics to amend and fertilize.
Start small with one garden bed. If it goes well, add another—too much all at once can be overwhelming.
FEED ME, SEYMOUR
Feed the soil and the plants take care of themselves. It really is the microflora in the soil that keeps plants healthy. Add organic fertilizers and organic matter (compost, leaves, etc.) to build up your soil for healthier plants.
RAISE THEM UP
Beginner gardeners should use raised beds for growing vegetables. Line the bottom of each one with hardware cloth to keep out ground-dwelling pests and use homemade compost to add much-needed nutrients to your soil.
MULCH, MULCH, MULCH
Bare, uncovered soil is prone to wash away and erode. Protect the soil with wood chip mulch so you can suppress weeds, improve soil over time, and keep the precious topsoil in place.
BE A PICKY PLANTER
It’s oh-so tempting while strolling through a nursery to pick out plants that look beautiful and call out to you. Before you buy any plant, however, ask the following questions: Will it survive our climate? Do you have adequate sun/shade? What are the plant’s watering requirements?
Thank you to our experts: Tami Kint of Green Acres Nursery & Supply; Melise Tug of Bushnell’s Landscape, Garden, & Home; Diane Dillard of Roseville Better Gardens Club; Shilo Nielsen of Front Yard Nursery; Tracy Celio, Master Gardener Program Coordinator, University of California Cooperative Extension Amador and El Dorado County; Kevin Marini, Home Hort and Composting Educator & Master Gardener Programs Manager, UCCE Placer and Nevada Counties; Juliet Voigtlander of El Dorado Nursery & Garden.