As soon as the weather breaks, there is always a list of fun activities that you want to get started checking off. Summer always passes by fast and we find ourselves back in the crisp fall months. One thing that is perfect to get started right now is…… A GARDEN! I’m talking about fruits, flowers, veggies, herbs, and even some good old greenery. Getting started on a garden of your own can be a daunting task, but luckily I’ve gathered some insider information from some experts to get you squared away. I spoke with a member of the Burrellton Garden Club of Lower Burrell, and my father who has somehow kept a 6-foot tall palm tree alive for the past three years in western PA (that’s a good enough credential, right?). We have gathered some tips and tricks to help any beginner cultivate their summer garden with love!
5 Tips for a Successful Garden
- Consider adding natural fertilizers to your soil! – You would be surprised to see what a difference adding some common, natural items to your soil can do for your flowers, fruits, and veggies. Things such as coffee grounds, grass clippings, and eggshells offer added nutrients to your soil. These items are already going to be disposed of anyway, so why not dispose of them in your garden to up the vitamins and minerals your plants need to grow?!
- Protect your garden from invaders. – It’s no secret that furry friends of western PA love to frolic into neighborhood gardens. Bunnies especially can be quite the snackers on your tasty veggies. A couple of ways you can protect your garden is by either staking it with forks or adding a rope perimeter. By placing biodegradable forks (fork side up) in the grass throughout your garden, the bunnies will be deterred from entering the maze. Adding a rope perimeter no higher than 6-inches off the ground will deter these little guys from hopping in as well.
- Read up about how much your plants need to drink. – As you might have guessed, not every plant needs the same amount of water to flourish. The ever-trendy succulents will wither away by being watered too frequently, however, a beautiful hanging pot of flowers will wither away with not enough water. To get the right balance, a watering can with a sprinkle/spray spout works best. It offers a gentle stream of water for those plants just getting started. I know it may seem easier to bust out that hose, but you have to nurture your plants, not drown them out. Hanging plants are a bit of another story. You need to often keep these plants watered and fertilized. With the lack of ground moisture and the sun beating down, these flowers can dry out quickly. Be sure to water them frequently.
- Keep track of who is who, and when you should plant them. – Whenever you get involved with herbs and veggies, I’ll be honest a lot of them look similar starting. This is why it is so important to keep track of who is who. Most seed packets or flower starters you can find at a nursery come with a little label of sorts that you can display in the ground to help you keep track. If you’re feeling crafty, check out some DIY garden labels like the ones below from The Micro Gardener. It is important to know not all plants thrive at the same time of year. Be sure to check out the when to plant guide on Miracle Grow’s website.
- No yard space? No problem! – If you are someone who lives in the city and doesn’t have a whole lot of yard space or maybe any at all, that doesn’t mean you can’t join in the gardening fun! If you have a balcony or patio, you can create a mini garden without all of the yard space. All you need are some large, clear plastic bins. In the winter you can use them to store summer clothes, beach towels, and more, and then in the spring, empty them to start your back porch garden! The large ones are perfect for starting the seedlings and you can even graduate to full-blown plants if you stick to the larger bins. You can also consider utilizing a vertical garden system to save space like the one pictured below!
Now that you have some of the basics of gardening, where to find those seedlings, starter plants, and gorgeous landscaping necessities?? While Pittsburgh is known as the Steel City, we have quite a few places to help you gain a green thumb. Check out some of the local nurseries and greenhouses below to stock up this season!
- Best Feeds Garden Centers
- Bedner’s Farm & Greenhouse
- Brenckle’s Greenhouses
- Chapons Greenhouse
- Hahn Nursery
- Michael Brothers Nursery
- Mosside Greenhouse
- Shadyside Nursery
- Soergel Orchards