A common question we get asked is to share some of our top plant maintenance tips. In this week’s tip, we’re cover a few things we recommend to help you become a better gardener

Know Your Plants
The first step is to know what plants you have. This is especially true for any new plant or one that you haven’t identified just yet. Take a picture and ask your gardening friends, a master gardener or at a local garden centre to help you identify what it is. You can also go to different online communities such as https://www.reddit.com/r/whatsthisplant/

Once you know what plants you have and their common and/or scientific name, you can research and read up on how best to care for them.

Keep Detailed Notes
Keep track of the main gardening tasks you complete and when you did them. For example, you’ll want to make a note when you add fertilizer and how much you add. When you do a soil test (and also make a note of it), this will help you with future amendments and knowing how to best care for your garden over the long term. If a new tree or shrub is planted, make a note of this as well as and any pruning or dividing you do. For annuals, keeping track of what gets planted where can help you to recreate a favourite garden look or to remember what a certain plant was if a friend or family member asks.

This way, you’ll be able to remember with certainty which year major tasks took place and have a base of knowledge to build upon.

Keep Popular Tools and Supplies Handy
A big waste of time is making multiple back and forth trips from the house/garage/shed to the garden each time you forget to bring something. Instead, make a checklist or keep a bin with all of the essential tools you may need while working in the garden. Some tools we always have on hand include a good pair of garden shears, a trowel and a rag. Depending on the tasks of the day, we might also include tools like shovels/forks/rakes, harvest bins, organic fertilizer and natural pest control remedies (ex. a spray bottle and insecticidal soap). A few minutes of planning and foresight can save you lots of time to step back and enjoy in the garden.

Develop a Routine
Creating a routine of common tasks you do each time you’re in the garden can help you to identify issues before they become more serious, provide different perspectives on your plants and garden, and make you a more efficient gardener. Here are a few things we do each time we go into the garden. First, we take a broad look at the garden as we’re walking and approaching it. Look if there have been any changes, major or minor since last time. Maybe that bed of carrots is starting to germinate and should be weeded, or maybe your tomatoes look like they need staking and support so the branches don’t fall over. Next, we’ll work through our garden in a more methodical manner from one end to another. Some things we’re looking for include looking at individual plants and turning over selected leaves to inspect for bugs and insects. Another thing we look for is feeling and inspecting the soil to get a sense of the soil moisture. At the end of our gardening session, we’ll take a couple minutes to make some notes on the garden in terms of what we did, things to look out for next time, and any other important details.

With these 4 tips, you’ll be well on your way to become a better gardener, be more in tune with your plants, and get the most enjoyment out of it.

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