Gardening 101: Caring for your Garden

Tending a garden is a perfect example of how one needs to focus on the journey, not just the destination. Gardening isn’t simply about the final harvest, it’s about all of the care, thought, and attention put into it throughout the course of the season. Getting out into your garden on a regular basis allows for mindful presence, a connection to the earth and natural environment, and builds a relationship with your plants. This presence, along with regular maintenance, will allow you, and your garden, to bloom.

When caring for your garden throughout the year there are three main considerations to be made; irrigation, weed control, and pest management. Farmer Jo has some tips and tricks straight from the greenhouse to make sure that your garden thrives and produces the bounty you’ve been dreaming of.


One inch of water per week is the magic number. That’s how much water your garden needs on average to thrive. If you are so inclined, you can determine the flow rate of your hose and calculate how long it will take to reach the desired soaking (try this calculator). Or, you can buy or make a rain gauge and use that to determine if your garden is getting enough water. 

Either way, it’s important to connect with your soil, digging in with your hands, to see what’s happening below the surface. Check to see if the water is pooling anywhere. Are you watering sufficiently but the soil is still dry underneath? These observations are key to the success of your garden.

Weed Control

What is a weed really? It’s just anything you don’t want in your patch of garden. Many common garden “weeds”, like dandelion, thistle, and crabgrass, are simply plants that are incredibly well adapted to dealing with disturbed soil and are thereby difficult to eradicate. There are three main approaches that the home gardener can employ to deal with weeds and limit their ability to take over the garden.

Mulching: Mulching entails covering the surface of the soil with a thick layer of organic material in order to smother weeds and discourage their growth. Straw, dry leaves, wood chips, grass clippings, or even cardboard can be used as mulch, just taking care to apply a sufficient amount of the material to block light from the soil. Mulching also benefits your garden by helping to retain moisture, particularly in our hot, dry summers, and creates a perfect habitat for beneficial creatures, like earthworms.
Cultivate, Don’t Weed: If mulching isn’t an option for you then keeping on top of weed germination early is key. You shouldn’t be waiting for weeds to develop into fully fledged plants before tackling them. The goal is to catch them early in their development, ideally at the white thread stage, and disrupt the growing cycle before it really has a chance to start. Shallow cultivation is the trick here. Cultivating just the top few centimeters of soil doesn’t disrupt soil life, but is enough to kill those tiny weeds that are just itching to take over.
Cover Cropping: Once your plants are big enough that the soil is mostly covered by their leaves, consider sowing a green mulch, otherwise known as a cover crop. This will serve multiple purposes; it will cover the bare soil, add nutrients to the soil, and smothers out weeds. Farmer Jo recommends crimson clover as it is great for building soil fertility and dies off over winter.

Pest Management

In organic farming and gardening the key to pest control is prevention, not treatment. The reality is that organic pest control products simply aren’t as effective as conventional chemical products, so you need to catch issues early on - you need to nip them in the bud, so to speak.

Observation is key.

Get out in your garden, look at your plants, and be aware of what’s going on in their world. Is there evidence of insects like little holes in plant leaves? Are squirrels or rabbits getting in and making a buffet of your garden? Cultivate your observational skills and really get to know your garden and what’s happening in its world.

Mindful presence = a happy garden and a happy gardener!

Don't forget that our first annual seedling pre-sale is still on and selling out fast. Get your orders in for our organically grown and lovingly tended vegetable seedlings soon and we'll help you make this years garden amazing!

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