I still love answering the most beginner gardener questions – really, those are the only questions I can answer without “running to the washroom” and calling my mom. So when you ask them, I feel sooo good.
I won’t give examples of some juicy beginner questions because some people might get embarrassed….like the gardener who planted the whole grocery store pepper in the ground to grow a pepper plant. That was awesome.
1) Plant your tomatoes deep: (You can also plant them sideways). If you had a grandparent who gardened you probably knew to do this before you knew how to burp.
2) Thin your carrots: This means, after you have dumped a whole pack of carrot seeds in a row, you need to pull out a zillion of them so you can get the proper 10 carrots that fit in that space. Every seed makes one carrot. This lovely british lady shows you how: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3QS3h6dp2U
Take a carrot out of the bag from the store, stick it in the soil. That is how much space one seed needs. (Please, still eat that carrot). So, next time you plant, you might want to take one tiny little incy wincy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini carrot seed and put it 3 inches away from the other seed. And then in a furry of frustration dump the whole pack 3 inches away.
3) Yep, you just plant a potato: It’s so simple that I took a photo of planting a potato to grow about 20 more. It’s magical.
4) Plant melons and squash into fabric/plastic: This one I sometimes forget to mention/do, so my apologies if your squash and melons are standing out there in the soil with cold feet – they will be ok and you can still do this. To keep the roots of melons, squash, and maybe even cucumbers cozy and warm in the soil, I plant them into either landscape fabric or *gasp* plastic. This gives better odds at more fruits production and ripening. I happen to have leftover greenhouse plastic so it’s kind of handy. If I was a master gardener, I would then cover the plastic or landscape fabric or tarp with a pretty mulch (Like my friend Ben Cesario at Fiddlehead Nursery) . But then I wouldn’t get to see the bindweed under the plastic strangle and starve my squash plants.
I put the plastic down first, then cut a whole in it to plant into the soil below. Then I weight down the edges with random refuse that I keep for just that purpose. If you’re aspiring to master gardener you have to start collecting random refuse somewhere.
5) Seeds Must Stay Moist – For a seed to germinate it must swell with water and then burst (like when your toddler squishes blueberries and your eco-laundry detergent does nothing but mix the blueberry colour into the whole load). If you don’t give it enough water, it won’t burst and sprout like magic. And you want to see the magic don’t you?? Then water. 2x daily if you can. Especially those tricky carrots seeds – which I cover with plywood to shade them from the drying sun and peak on them daily to see if they are sprouting. I also water under the plywood. That’s a good trick. You should write that one down. That’s Master Gardener material there.
Image of a bean seed bursting out of the soil (a slow-mo burst over the course of 24 hours or so).