If I had it my way, I’d have titled this: The 20,493 Tips Successful Gardeners All Follow.
What I’m saying is, there are a million little things that incredible gardeners do to get amazing harvests and beautiful gardens.
This list is my summary of the bigger ones — the essentials that many newer gardeners overlook or don’t consider important.
Let’s get into it! At the bottom of the article, comment and let me know which habit you don’t practice enough.
- Make Compost
- Use Compost
- Notice Things
- Feed Your Soil
- Practice Prevention
- Share The Wealth
- Be Present
1. Compost Everything
One-Liner: Don’t let anything go to waste.
Composting is the secret weapon of incredible gardeners. They know how to get “something for nothing” — pulling fertility out of food scraps, wood chips, and all sorts of waste products that many of us throw away without further thought.
It’s a simple idea: you start with food waste, leaves, and yard debris, and come out the other side with rich, black compost to feed your soil.
It doesn’t matter whether you use a compost tumbler, worm composter, or indoor compost bin to get the job done — all that matters is you practice the habit of composting your waste materials.
2. Use Your Compost
One-Liner: Making compost is no good unless you, you know…use it!
It’s one thing to make incredible compost and an entirely different thing to use it properly. Skilled gardeners know how to apply compost:
- Spread it at the base of plants to stave off disease
- Add to your potting soil to increase the slow-release fertility in the mixture
- Top-dress your raised beds to improve soil quality
- Apply it heavily to depleted soils to return them to fertility
- Sprinkle on your lawn after you aerate it to increase growth
The point I’m making here is…use your compost. Use it everywhere!
3. Notice Things
One-Liner: Keep a watchful eye over your garden, like a cop on a stake-out.
There are a million things that can go wrong (or right) in your garden. Experienced gardeners are just that — experienced. They’ve put real time in their gardens, toiling and noticing the little changes that happen day by day.
They look for the tiny signs that signal a pest, fertility, or disease issue. Then they correct for them well before the problems get out of hand.
They feel the change in the temperature, wind, rain, and soil structure. They know what they can control, and what they can’t, then they focus on what they can control.
One-Liner: Protect your plants and soil with good mulch practice.
Mulch can best be thought of as a shield that protects your soil and plants.
- Helps regulate soil temperature
- Prevents water evaporation
- Keeps weeds down
- Prevents soil-borne diseases from affecting plants
Experienced gardeners mulch liberally, and they mulch with organic material that will eventually break down and work its way into the soil.
They also use cheap mulch ideas to keep their costs low in the garden, because they know that spending the most money isn’t important — getting the best results is.
5. Feed Your Soil
One-Liner: Soil needs high-quality, good food for the long term, not junk food.
Experienced gardeners know that their plants get their nutrition from the soil, and they feed the soil accordingly. They give their soil well-finished compost, full of beneficial bacteria, worms, and fungi.
They play the long-term game — feeding the soil with high-quality ingredients instead of amending with quick and dirty fertilizers that are divorced from natural systems.
6. Practice Prevention
One-Liner: An ounce of prevention in the garden is often worth ten pounds of cure.
Experienced gardeners know that problems are easily solved when they aren’t allowed to become problems at all.
This means they use neem oil to prevent pests and diseases, they choose the right growing medium, and know what nutrient deficiencies look like. They do these things because it’s easier to prevent a problem from occurring than solving one that’s gotten out of hand.
7. Share The Wealth
One-Liner: Share the fruits of your labor and watch it all come back to you tenfold.
Experienced gardeners grow more than they need — then they give the rest away. They know that the little they sacrifice in giving their harvest away will come back to them tenfold in goodwill and connections with their neighbors, family, and community at large.
8. Be Present
One-Liner: Do it for the love of it, not the result.
Expert gardeners garden because they love it. They’re not in it for the harvest (well, not ONLY for the harvest). It’s a journey, a process, and a passion.
They walk into the garden in the morning, take a sip of coffee or tea, and take it all in. It’s a beautiful thing to cultivate life from the ground up — literally.
Do you have a gardening habit that I didn’t mention? Let me know in the comments…I’m a fellow gardener just like you and am always looking to grow better!