4 Simple Ways To Improve Your Garden

When spring comes around, so does the annual planning of the summer garden.  No doubt, there were also fantasies of walking through a robust garden clipping off tomatoes for salad, and pulling off bountiful ears of corn for supper.  The gardening process begins with finding the perfect garden location, waiting for the right temperature, and planting the minuscule seeds that will inevitably become a harvest.  But there is more to gardening than just planting a seed and watching it grow.

Watering the Garden

Even moisture is an essential key to maintaining plant growth.  Plants should have on average about 1-2 inches of water per week.  More water should be provided during hot summer months where there is drought like conditions.  Soaker hoses and other methods, such as the use of rain collection barrels can assist in water conservation and at the same time, providing water during the rainless summer months.  Another method of crop irrigation is the use of ollas, or unglazed clay pots buried in the dirt.  These clay pots get water to the roots, as well as alleviating water evaporation.  This type of irrigation is 50-70% more effective than modern day irrigation systems and it also assists in eliminating disease caused by excessive watering.

Mulching the Garden

Mulching around the base of the plants is another essential method in maintaining healthy plants.  Adding 2-3 inches of natural mulch will assist in retaining more moisture in the soil, discourage unwanted weed growth, prevent soil erosion and help eliminate unwanted pests and insects.  Mulching also helps the soil have an even temperature which will assist is healthy growing roots.  Additionally, natural mulches such as grass clippings and straw will provide added nutrients to the soil in the decomposition process.

Feed Your Garden

Native American Indians planted fish at the base of a garden mound as a gift for the plants.  That gift of fish, when decomposed, provided needed nutreints for the plant to grow and bear it’s fruit.  Using natural fertilizers will condition the soil, or growing environment for the plant.  Plants need certain “foods” to grow and become more productive.  Typically, “foods” that plants need to thrive are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.  These elements will promote strong, healthy root systems and healthy fruits.  Natural fertilizers can be purchased at gardening centers, or a person can try and create their homemade version of fertilizer in the form of compost.  Composting is a great way to give back to the garden.  This natural soil amendment is a process that needs to be started before the garden is grown as it takes time for the weather, and nature to break down particles that will become compost.  Depending on the size of a compost heap, compost would be ready for use in the garden after 4-6 months.

Another way of feeding plants is  companion planting.  Companion plants have a symbiotic relationship and equally benefit from being planted near eachother.  Some of the benefits are pest control, higher yield, and added nutrients in the soil.  This fertilizing method, simplifies the gardening process to a minimum.

Pruning Your Garden

Many do not like to take the time to do this essential step, but it truly makes a huge difference in the health of the plant, as well as assist in helping the plant redirect it’s ergy on the growing of fruit.  Taking time to prune dead foliage, branches, non-producing limbs, etc will assist in developing better sized fruit.  Pinching and pruning are two methods of controlling the growth of vegetables.  Plants are very adaptable, and prefer to be pruned or pinched from time to time.

What to Pinch

Pinching is used to remove growth buds, flowers or immature fruit.

  • Pinch branch tips throughout the growing season to grow more bushy and full instead of lanky and tall.  Remove only the last set of two leaves, including the stem, each time you pinch a branch.
  • Continuously remove any dead or faded foliage.  Keep only the growth that is green and healthy.
  • For flowering fruits and vegetables, pinch off 1/3 to 1/2 of the blooms that appear in order for the plant to concentrate on growing larger fruits.

What to Prune

Pruning is used to correct or remove branches or prevent the spread of the plant outside it’s growth area.

  • Prune plants when they are growing too large for their allocated area.  Use sharp, clean shears to prevent the spreading of disease.
  • Remove entire unwanted or non-blooming branches to keep plants contained.  Keep some foliage to shade the developing fruit and prevent sun scald.
  • Continuously remove any dead or faded foliage.  Keep only the growth that is green and healthy.

If practiced, these simple gardening methods will help a person grow healthier plants with higher yields.  Growing fruits and vegetables requires constant practice, and learning from mistakes.  These methods listed above can help a person establish a better understanding of what plants need in order to thrive.  Happy Gardening!

The Prepper's Blueprint

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published April 20th, 2010
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  • Kenny Wayne Vance

    One good way is to utilize all of the neighbors leaving grass and leaves out for the trash. I have been doing this for years, so much that I am now selective in which bags I pick up.  Some folks use clear trash bags that you can see what’s inside ( I wont pick up bags with Liveoak leaves (takes too long to decompose), beer cans, weeds inside.  My garden is so rich that I don’t till, I just dig a hole a plant. I have 3 in layer of mulch on top and add to it every mowing. Tomatoes are already at the tops of the tomato cages. I planted my seeds in Dec, and kept them under a lamp till the middle of Feb. Happy Gardening !

  • Hi Kenny Wayne,

    We used organic grass fertilizer on our yard this year, and when I throw the grass into the compost pile, I have no worries about any chemicals going into the compost. 

    I am going to start a new compost pile to get it ready for the fall garden.  Gotta start planning ahead! I am going to try the lasagna method this time around. I have heard some great things about this.

    Thanks for your comment and for visiting.  🙂


  • Kenny Wayne Vance

    Lasagna method works, but the key to good quality compost are equal amounts of greens and browns (carbon & nitrogen) and while this will work on a forest floor in a matter of years, We want it to work faster than that, so we must manipulate Nature by adding moisture and areation (areation is the hard part) You gotta stir it manually.  Your Grandpa used a perforated pipe (normally used for field lines in a septic system) in his compost piles and I used the idea with great results to turbo-charge a compost pile into usable compost in months, instead of years.  While not an expert,I have studied and read about composting and I would love to see your compost operation one day. I’m currently 90% organic until I see a bug that cannot be controlled, then it’s Nuclear Winter for them….  Kenny Wayne ;-]

    • The storage time for oraginc and non-oraginc veggies should be identical. The unfortunate fact is that with the advent of frozen foods, refrigerated trucks, and other packaging and shipping innovations, the environmentally friendly,non- energy consuming methods of a generation or two ago have been lost. Look up things like root cellars,older canning methods,smoking and drying techniques, etc. There are ways of having fresh wholesome produce without building another nuclear power plant or burning another train load of coal.Sorry if I sort of ran off the rails there. Was this answer helpful?

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