Saturday, December 2, 2023

Five things you need to know: How to start a successful garden

Many cherry blossom trees around the historic triangle are in bloom, signally the beginning of spring. (WYDaily/ Photo by Gabrielle Rente)

After months of bitterly cold weather, spring is finally here. Now it’s time to get outside and sow those seeds.

According to the National Wildlife Federation’s National Gardening Survey in May 2020, last spring, more Americans started planting gardens to benefit wildlife.

Some also started food gardens out of fear of food shortages.

But let’s say you’re among the few who didn’t start a garden last year, or maybe you did but the plants didn’t last very long. If you’re one of those who considers yourself unable to keep plants alive, here are some tips to get your garden started.

  1. Have an idea and a plan: Bruce Milne, operations manager at Coleman Nursery, located at 3000 Ironbound Road in Williamsburg, said that before buying any plants or seeds, come up with a plan that works for your yard. “There are a few things to consider before planting,” he noted. “Is the idea gonna work? Do you have invasive species? Rabbits? Deer? Are the plants you want good for summer shade?” Make a list of the conditions your yard has and talk to a local gardener or landscaper if you’re unsure what factors to look for.
  2. Location, location, location: Knowing which parts of your yard get the most sun and which become shady during the summer is important to ensure that your plant is getting the amount of light it likes. “I think the biggest mistake, people make is wrong plant, wrong location,” Milne said.
  3. Prep your soil: Milne said this is another mistake many people make before the plant is even in the ground. “It’s important to not only make sure the pH of your soil is right for the plant, but the hole your digging to place it in is the correct size,” he noted. Some soil mixes aren’t suitable for certain plants. One example is a loamy soil, which is commonly found around the Tidewater region and isn’t the best for plants that like a more nutritious, darker soil.
  4. All plants need TLC: A myth many unlucky gardeners think is that some plants are easier to care for than others. Milne said he disagrees with this line of thinking. “It’s a poor way of thinking about plants. No matter what kind of plant you get or what garden you have, all plants require care of some sort,” he said. “There’s no magical rule or secret about it.”
  5. Know how and when to water: Research how much water the plant you are caring for needs, whether it is an indoor potted orchid, or a fig tree out in your backyard. Overwatering can cause root rot while underwatering will dry your plant out. Some plants are excellent at retaining water in their leaves, such as succulents, while others are almost always parched. For example, squash is an extremely hungry plant.

If you require more than a few tips to help you and your garden survive this year, then consider taking gardening classes.

Coleman Nursery will start offering gardening classes again this year, date to-be-determined. The nursery is open everyday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays. To find out more about what classes they offer, visit their website here or visit the nursery at 3000 Ironbound Road.


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