Whether for relieving stress, an activity to occupy the kids when schools closed, or the ability to have a supplemental food supply, new gardens sprouted up all over the world. Seed companies saw a phenomenal increase in sales and many garden centers were depleted of tomatoes.

Perhaps, as a new gardener, you’re feeling a little frustrated. Not all those seeds germinated. Leaves may be looking a little yellow, brown, or spotty. And then there are the weeds. Take heart! Every gardener was new at one time and your garden will more than likely produce something to eat.

Here are a few tips to make next year’s garden more of a success:

Research-July and August can be slower months for local garden centers. Employees have a lot of knowledge for growing in your particular region. Let them know what part of town you’re in. The soil in established neighborhoods will be different from newer developments.

Composting-feeds the soil. Your garden will only be as healthy as your soil is. Adding organic compost improves soil health. A soil test is suggested to see which nutrients may be missing.

Start small- most new gardeners underestimate the work a garden entails. Consider raised beds next year. Raised beds limit size, they’re easier for weeding, and you can control the soil composition.

Sunshine-most vegetables need 6-8 hours of sun. Leafy vegetables and herbs, such as parsley and cilantro, can do with a little less. Many gardeners have thought that they had brown thumbs, but only had a plant in the wrong spot!

Watering- gardens should be close to the water source. No one likes to carry watering cans on 90 degree days. Water early in the day. Water plants close to the roots, as wet leaves can be susceptible to disease. Drip hoses are an excellent way to ensure that the water goes where it’s needed.

Mulching-helps to prevent weeds, retains moisture in the soil, and helps to keep an even soil temperature. Mulch can be worked back into the garden in the fall or in the following spring.

Relax- a beautiful, productive vegetable garden is a wonderful thing. If you are less successful than you expected, support your local farmer’s market!

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