My garden is one of my happy places. I love spending time in the dirt- it’s peaceful, it smells wonderful, and the little tasks like watering, weeding, and pruning act as a sort of meditation for me. However, I know that gardening can be tricky! I have killed WAY more plants than I’d like to admit to, but over the years I have learned some great tricks and tips to get the most out of your garden!
However, as much as I swear by these, gardening changes constantly! Year by year, place by place, and season by season you need to experiment to see what works best for you because something that works once doesn’t necessarily work the next year too! This year I’ve tried a couple of new things (like planting corn for the first time!) so I’ll make sure to keep you updated (especially on Instagram) as to what works and doesn’t, but here are some of my tried and true tips!
1 Companion Planting
There are SO many reasons why learning about companion planting is a great idea for your garden. From pest control to natural trellising, companion plants can make sure that your garden is prolific and easy to maintain!
Did you know that adding in specific plants can deter pests? I love adding marigolds around my garden to not only add a bit of color, but also produce a scent that can keep away certain pests like mosquitoes and cabbage worms and they also attract beneficial insects thatch help control aid infestations! Another great flower-veggie combo is planting nasturtiums with your squash to repel squash bugs.
Efficiently Use Space
Whether you have a small garden or a large one, using space efficiently will boost your bounty! One of the most well known combinations of space saving plants is called The Three Sisters- known as the ‘holy trinity’ of some indigenous cultures, the combination of planting corn, beans, and squash is beneficial in many ways. The beans will use the corn as a trellis to climb while simultaneously adding nitrogen back into the soil to fertilize the corn and the squash. Meanwhile, the spiky squash leaves will protect the tender beans from pests and predators!
Creating Natural Shade
In a different way of using space, companion planting using different levels of plant life can create a more favorable atmosphere for plants. Late season transplants can do well under established plants that will provide them a bit of shade while they acclimate to the soil!
2 Shop Local
Planting what works best for your zone, your soil type, and your garden’s light availability is what is going to make your garden great! With seed catalogs, the ability to ship live plants, and big box stores offering a plethora of different options it is easy to get sucked into novelty and forget about what works in your area! That’s one of the reasons I love working with local nurseries. O’Toole’s Garden Centers was founded here in Denver generations ago, and with that history comes experience and partnerships with other local businesses.
All of the garden supplies that I grab from O’Toole’s are grown and made right here in Colorado- from compost to seedlings! That means that they are specifically acclimated to the type of soil we have, the weather, and the growing season’s length. I love being able to walk into a store and know that no matter what, from trees to thyme, I’ll have the ability to grow what I buy! Plus, having a knowledgeable staff who can answer all your questions doesn’t hurt!
3 Don’t Be Afraid to Mix Things up
I think a lot of us think the perfect garden is set up in equally spaced rows with one kind of plant in each row. While I think that can be necessary for commercial farming, home gardens give you so much flexibility! I love adding in herbs and flowers in extra spaces in the corners of raised beds or near the fence line. I like to things like tomatoes in zigzags to give them extra room, and one of my favorite features of my garden is actually a display of plants on their own, stacked in pots on a little wooden step stool! Letting go of perfection and embracing a little bit of chaos can make for a very productive garden!
4 Plant to Attract Pollinators
Gardens can’t produce food without pollination! While I’ve already written a whole post on how to specifically cater to different types of pollinators, we have to make sure that we are planting in a holistic way- attracting wildlife to our gardens. I love to plant extra flowers even if they aren’t edible around my garden for a little extra incentive- and that is another way that the pest-deterring marigolds can work for you too!
5 Maintenance is Important
While I would never be accused of having a perfectly weed-free garden, I do make it a point to check on my garden at least once a day! This way you can be sure that you’re on top of things like pests, fungi, watering issues, weeds, and fertilization needs. I am constantly tinkering in my garden, and find that spending time inspecting it creates better yields- and you’ll catch things like unsupported tomato plants so you can catch them and remedy before they break and you lose your harvest!
Like I said earlier, these are my tried and true general tips that have worked year after year, but when it gets down to the nitty gritty like fertilizer types, soil amending, and the like, be sure to experiment with what works best for you and your ever-changing garden! Be sure to follow myself and O’Toole’s over on Instagram to stay up to date with my garden and watch it as it grows, and please do tag me in your garden updates! I love to see what you’ve gotten up to in your little pocket of eden!
This post was sponsored by O’Toole’s Garden Centers. All opinions are my own.