Successful gardens don’t have to be complicated or exotic. A great garden grows, is harvested and enjoyed by a gardener who knows and follows 10 basic steps. As in most endeavors, keeping the process simple and grounded in the basics pays off.

  1. Select smart. Know about how many plants you can grow in the space you have and avoid the temptation to over purchase.
  2. Count the days. Make sure plants have time to grow to maturity. Seed packets tell the number of days until harvest. If you happen to plant later than hoped, buy varieties with fewer days until harvest.
  3. Nourish the soil and plants. Growing veggies have big appetites and need nourishment from the soil. Apply several inches of compost and till or spade it into the soil prior to planting. Apply slow-release fertilizer during the growing season per label guidelines.
  4. Plant in sunny areas. Veggies and herbs love sunshine. Shaded areas will be less productive.
  5. Space plants by their needs. An over-crowded garden is less productive. Rely on seed packet info for proper spacing between seeds when planting. Leafy greens can grow more closely together, but tomatoes and other larger plants need space for air circulation and to keep them from being shaded by nearby plants.
  6. Water consistently. Irregular watering that allows plants to wilt through underwatering or soil to be saturated through overwatering creates stress plants don’t need. Water consistently and monitor soil moisture to determine when to water.
  7. Weed frequently. Weeds suck up moisture, steal nutrients from the soil and will shade and choke emerging seedlings. If left to flower, they will seed a new crop.
  8. Thin seeded crops as they grow. As root crops such as onions, carrots and radishes grow, harvest some of the crop so the rest have room to grow.
  9. Provide structural support. Set cages to support tomatoes and poles for beans. Also apply mulch throughout the garden as it helps retain soil moisture and prevent weed germination.
  10. Be proactive with pests. Know when insect levels have crossed the line from a nuisance to become a threat and be prepared to take action that will not damage edibles. Some pests can be treated by spraying them with water. Others require different controls. Learn what you need to know and get expert advice from the garden center and landscape pros.