7 Rules of Thumb for Gardening

Keep this list and check it twice.

For some people, gardening is natural. Just like those people who are naturally adept at home decorating and cooking, people born with green thumbs are not the majority. Most of us regular Joes need decorating, cooking, and gardening help. And today, we're going to tackle the latter.

The bad news about gardening is that there are many varieties of plants that require different care—there's no one-size-fits-all solution. However, the good news is that there are at least some key skills to turn to when you're dirt-handed and desperate. Those key skills will be referred to the gardening rules of (green) thumb, and, yes—that pun was necessary.



The 7 Gardening Rules of Thumb


1. Do your plant homework before planting

As mentioned above, there are lots of different plant varieties. So if you want to make sure your green friends stay green, it's important to learn more about them before planting them. You'd hate to plant a shade-lover in full sun, for example, and some plants just might not bode well in Charlotte's climate. And then there's the whole question of spacing. Just do a little light reading first, O.K.?


2. Remember that soil is king

Think about your house. If it's built on an unfit foundation, it's only a matter of time before your house takes a tumble. The same goes for your plants. Spend a little time making sure your soil is rich and nutritious if you want your plants to flourish.


3. Be the grim reaper when necessary

Sorry—not every plant is going to have a happy and healthy life. Diseases are sometimes inevitable. If you've got some sad-looking plants on your hands, you've got to say goodbye. A diseased plant not showing signs of improvement can hurt the others in the garden bed, so you'll have to pull it. It can be hard to uproot the plant you loved and cared for, but it's for the best. Be strong.


4. Calendars are your friends

As much as you think you'll remember when you last watered your plant, it's best to still keep track. Create a watering calendar to keep your plant watering on a routine, this way you can avoid the fatal outcomes from over- or under-watering. Another calendar to keep would be for sowing and harvesting. There are ideal seasons and times to plant your seeds, so having the reminder on paper helps you hit the right growing window. Similarly, if you're growing backyard fruits and veggies, you'll want to keep track of their harvesting seasons to make sure you're on schedule.


5. The "thumb" rule of thumb

Confused yet? The "thumb" will help you with watering your container plants. Since over-watering is a big cause of plant death, the "thumb" rule is meant to deter you from doing so. Basically, before you water a plant, stick your thumb (or index finger) into the soil about one inch deep. If the soil is dry, you can give it water. If it's still moist, put down the watering can, and back away very, very slowly. Come back another day when the soil is parched.


6. Pay attention to hole sizes

In addition to proper watering schedules and soil, the hole you dig for your plant is also very important to its success. Generally speaking, the hole you dig should always be about the same depth as the plant when it was in the pot you bought it in. Never deeper. If you're planting seeds, there is usually a depth recommendation on the packet. Furthermore, width-wise, the hole should be about two times the width of the pot—this will give the roots room to relax and settle in.


7. Even though it's hard, be patient

It's a virtue, y'all. Gardening takes time to master, and plants take time to blossom. Not every plant will be a winner for you—sometimes you'll have to move them around, try new varieties, and switch up your methods until you find a combination that works for you and your garden. Don't give up after the first dead plant!

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