May it be beneficial for your home’s pretty environment, your own mental health, or the living dream for a sustainable backyard—you are now a step closer to manifesting the most ideal and pest-free garden to start with. Drop your doubts and grab your rake for you will be reaping what you sow anytime soon!
A good sustainable garden won’t be possible without taking into account some important fundamental plan and methods in order to skip most mistakes that aspiring backyard gardeners tend to overlook. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
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1. Plant strong pioneer seedlings
It doesn’t hurt to plan so take the liberty to collect and select. For a healthy garden to thrive, accept that it’s going to be the “survival of the fittest” as well. Before planting your greens or flowers in the soil or bed you have prepared, make sure that the plants are healthy and are in good shape. Mixing your garden with unhealthy and off color plants will affect the healthy ones and can welcome pests in your garden which might escalate into an infestation in your backyard.
Here are key attributes to consider when buying or getting a seedling or plant:
- Deep color
- In good shape even during the germination phase
- Healthy roots (seen when transplanting)
- Sturdy stem
- No mold or too much moss
2. Grow in a healthy medium
Just like when building a house, the foundation is very important that it can be able to withstand and weather through time–and this also applies to your garden. To establish a good foundation, you will need a healthy, well-irrigated, well-lit soil bed which will serve as the nutritious medium for the plant that you will be growing.
As per an article in AVRDC organization’s study, it is vital to keep the nursery seedbed healthy in order to produce healthy seedlings if you prefer to grow it in the yard instead of the using protrays or raised beds:
‘There is a shift towards using protrays because they can be easier to manage and
more reliably produce healthy seedlings.However, if farmers are still using the seed bed
method of nursery raising, certain good practices have to be adopted to produce healthy seedlings..
To make sure that your seed bed is going to be a good medium, here are the key tips to remember:
- Apply soil treatments to avoid soil-borne diseases
- Strategize a sunny area with proper drainage
- Disinfect you nursery by solarization
Especially when you are growing fruit-bearing plants or produce, solarization may be a serious process that may go out of bounds to the simple and basic gardening but this is actually an efficient technique done by agricultural countries that grow crops, which is also doable in your very own backyard. As per the South Asian agricultural article:
‘Solarizing the seedbed soil before sowing will kill many insect pests and pathogens as well as weed seeds, and to prevent seedling damping-off and to reduce other soil-borne diseases..
The best time to solarize soil bed is during the dry season. Cover the soil with polymer film or transparent plastic sheets for 3-4 weeks.
These are the specific instructions from AVRDC’s agricultural research on how to solarize and disinfect the soil:
- Moisten the seedbed
- Cover the soil with transparent plastic sheets for 3-4 weeks (bury the edges of the sheets in the soil)
- After 3-4 weeks, remove the plastic sheets and plough the soil
- About 2-3 days later, level the soil and sow the seeds.
3. Get a good spot
Aside from preparing a good soil or medium for your plants, make sure that you pick the best spot to prevent you from getting a headache in maintaining and sustaining your garden in the long run.
Here are some tips to add to your bucket list to get started:
- Pick an area that is not cramped to allow your plant to breathe
- Must have a proper drainage to avoid flooding and overwatering the plants
- Make sure you have easy access and clean water source for irrigation
- Pick a spot with just enough and sufficient sunlight
4. Don’t cramp your plants
Knowing that you are still starting from your backyard or vacant lawn at home, you may need to consider clearing out a well ventilated area that is wide enough that it won’t cramp in the future when the plants start to grow and not wilt through time
Allowing your plants to breathe and become “socially distanced” from each other can help them sustain and grow in good condition. Wanna know why? Here are some reasons why:
- So that the plants won’t shade each other out and compete for water, light, and soil nutrients
- In order avoid too much relative humidity and foliar plant disease
- Powdery mildew like Phlox paniculata, rust, and downy mildew will thrive in too much humidity
- Plants also need social distancing to avoid healthy leaves from getting contact with infected ones
- A garden with too much cramped foliage will also become a good hiding place for pests in your backyard
Allow your plants to have a room to grow upon bedding the seedlings or plants. By the time they grow, regularly prune the stalk to allow air flow and clean the foliage to keep away from pests.
5. Harvest regularly
In line with the tip number 4, harvesting and trimming your plants regularly is vital to avoid the diseases caused by too much foliage and overcrowding. Aside from stunting the growth of the plants that were shaded out, an unattended garden can harness pests in your backyard to thrive and reproduce—we don’t want that happening.
To keep you from worrying about this in the future, make sure to:
- Trim and lean up foliage after harvest – this will allow the plants to get sufficient light and avoid pests from lingering.
- Harvest produce – this is basically the reason why we are making a sustainable garden in the first place, plus to keep the pests to get it before you.
- Unharvested plants will suck out nutrients from the soil and will cause stunted growth of your other plants.
6. Entice some frogs and birds friends to your garden
Another way to keep your backyard garden free from insects is by enabling insect-eaters like birds, geckos, or frogs to live or hangout in your garden. This will let your garden get a lesser chance of insect or pest infestation which we know could be a handful sometimes.
Aside from helping you by pollinating your plants, birds can also help you keep your yard from insects. Just make sure to provide water and shade in order to entice them to visit your garden.
Allow nature’s way of preventing a pest control or exterminator from having to rescue you from mosquitoes, stink bugs, gypsy moths, and other invasive pests that may also be tempted to inhabit your garden.
In order to make the birds and frogs feel welcome, here are tips given by master gardener, Marie Iannotti:
- Attract the birds by giving them a shady spot or a bird house where they can eat and keep them from predators
- Get your friendly toad a house, sometimes a bowl of water is all it takes.
- They will also appreciate a good source of freshwater.
By welcoming them, you can limit pests from invading your garden.
7. Use humane pest control in the household
As beginner gardeners in our backyard, we cannot fully isolate our garden from the day-to-day challenges that we muddle with just like the pests that are also present inside our homes like bed bugs, cockroaches, rodents, dust mites, etc.
If some of you are planning to grow a garden with produce that you may plan to cook and eat after the harvest, you may need to consider the kind of pest control to tap on in order to avoid exposing your garden from toxic pesticides that can cause damage to your garden or even keep you from digesting them.
Here are some humane and non-toxic pest control inside your home to help your garden:
- Heat Treatment – This is a thermal remediation treatment that will not be using chemicals and pesticides to get rid of bed bugs and other bugs like dust mites through heat.
- Insect-repelling plants – Plants like lavender, mint, basil are just some to mention that can repel insects such as mosquitoes and flies.
- Cockroach baiting and mouse traps – You don’t need chemicals to be sprayed and become airborne and avoid these pests from being cross-resistant from these chemicals.
Finally, through these tips and tricks, we are quite sure that you are ready and equipped with enough knowledge to kickstart your home garden. Without having to commit the common mistakes that are overlooked by some, you can make sure to cultivate a healthy and pest-free batch of flowers or produce in your garden. Of course, we all learn along the way but by hook or by crook—this is a good start from here.