Top tips for a thriving garden

What you need to know:

Whether bulbs or herbs, it can be hard to differentiate your flowers and plants once they are in the soil. Stay organised stick plant markers into the soil by each plant species.

What is the easiest way to protect seedlings from pests and elements? When is the perfect time for weeding my garden or how can I get seedling without spending an arm and a leg? All these are concerns that many novice gardeners grapple with in their search for the perfect piece of green heaven. Here are some age-old tips have been tried and tested over the years that will help you create a beautiful, blooming outside space.

Tomato plants love bananas

Potassium-rich banana peels are excellent for plants such as tomatoes and peppers. Simply bury them in the soil near your plants where they will release nutrients as they break down. Or make banana tea for your crops by adding banana peels to a jar and covering them with water. Let it brew for a week and serve directly on the root-soil.

Eggshells are nutritious

To add calcium to your soul, look no further eggshells. An average eggshell contains nutrients such as sphosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, zinc, manganese, iron, copper and calcium that can benefit your garden. Grind your eggshells down finely and sprinkle the fragments onto the soil. A layer of shell is also said to help deter many pests and moderate the soil’s acidity, resulting in happy and healthy crops.

Fight snails with beer

 If you are fighting an increasing population of slugs and snails from your garden, the solution can be found in a bottle. Snails and cause substantial damage to gardens, mainly by chewing their way through your vegetables. To keep these pests at bay, place a container in the ground and fill it with beer, which will attract the slugs because of the yeast and fall into the trap.

Create a feast for pollinators

Pollination is vital for a thriving garden. Attracting pollinators to your garden increases the opportunity for your fruits and vegetables to get the pollen they need for producing more seed.

To encourage pollinators such as bees and butterflies to visit your garden, create a wonderland of strongly scented plants such as lavender and rosemary. Other scented plants repel creatures that are bad for the garden. For example, coriander and garlic deter aphids, while marigolds repel greenfly.

Also try adding diverse flowering plants that grow throughout the year because each pollinator has its own flower preference. Include perennials, hardy annuals, tender annuals, bulbs, flowering shrubs and trees in your landscape to provide a long-term food supply for the pollinators.

Make use of newspapers

Wondering where to grow your seedlings? Look no further than your newspaper. Cut the paper into long strips and use a mould (a tin can or lint roller) to fashion a tube. Fold the edges of the newspaper to form a base. Once the paper pots are filled with soil and seedling they can be transferred directly into flower beds. The newspaper will decompose naturally into the soil. The newspaper also comes in handy for protecting vulnerable soft fruits. Covering the fruits with newspaper and tying them with up string will keep your produce protected. The harvest will then ripen perfectly without the intrusion of a hungry caterpillar and other pests.

Weed as an expert

Weeding is important because weeds compete with other plants for resources such as water, nutrients, sunshine and space. The perfect time to weed your garden with ease is on a sunny day in the afternoon. Make sure to grasp the weed close to its base and gently pull while ensuring you extract the root to prevent regrowth.

Many novices make the mistake of weeding when the soil is wet because it is easier but the weeds grow straight back from that little bit you have pulled out. When you weed in the afternoon when the soil has had time to dry off on a hot sunny day, you can just leave the weeds to die in the hot sun, without worrying about them coming back.

Tomatoes appreciate tough love

Old garden wisdom says that despite your instincts you shouldn’t take too much care over your tomato plants. Leaving them to dry out a little between waterings will encourage the roots to grow deeper as they search for water and will create a strong plant overall.

Get creative with containers

Instead of splurging on expensive planters, get creative and invent your own containers by upcycling household items such as cracked sinks or bathtubs, broken birdbaths and more. Remember to add drainage holes or substrate to help with drainage.

Garden with the weather

As a gardener, your biggest ally or enemy can be the weather, so learning read it accurately will increase your chances of creating a thriving garden.  For instance, if you are going to fertilise or add compost, it is best to do it on a day when there are no chances of rain.  Rain can wash the fertiliser away before it has had the chance to become part of the soil. It is also best to do planting on overcast days without a lot of wind.

 Also mulch your flower beds and pot plants during the hot season.  Biodegradable mulch, such as wood chippings or bark, can improve the nutrients in the soil, while other options, such as gravel and slate shards, aid moisture retention and protects plants against extreme weather. Mulch can also prevent weeds from growing and gives your flower beds a neat finish.

Plant vegetables in intervals

To ensure that you never run out of fresh produce for your kitchen sow seeds in intervals. Also known as succession planting, this is a simple method that has been around for centuries.

Sow seeds roughly 14 days apart to maximise garden space, optimise quality and guarantee yourself a constant stream of harvestable goods.

Get new plants

Another way to get new plants is growing them from old floral bouquets. Instead of throwing wilting flowers away, cut the stem just below the leaf node. Cover with a bag at first and keep hydrated while the stem roots down, then plant the stem in your garden. This will work for everything from roses to daffodils, which look best when planted in groups.

Speed up germination

Growing plants and vegetables from seeds can take weeks if not months, but crafty gardeners have come up with time-saving methods to speed up the process. Most seeds only need heat and moisture to germinate, so place your seeds in a jar with water up to 24 hours before planting.

Keep them damp and warm, you should not leave them for more than a day. This should be enough to encourage the germination process. You can also place them in an airing cupboard the night before sowing.