CARING FOR YOUR GARDEN
SIMPLE TIPS FOR MAINTAINING GARDEN HEALTH AT HOME
1. THINNING PLANTS
As plants begin to grow, it is important to thin them out! When seeds are planted, they are usually very close together and many more are planted than necessary to make sure that if some die, enough plants will still survive. Once these plants begin to grow next to each other, though, there isn't enough room for them to spread their roots out in that crowded space. When seedlings are 2-3 inches tall, look on your seed packet to see how far apart they need to be thinned to. If that information isn't there, a good rule of thumb is that you should thin to about 4 inches apart. You want to make sure to keep the strongest looking seedlings with the most leaves, and that you're pulling out the ones that you won't keep by the roots to get the entire plant out. You can replant your discarded seedlings somewhere else, donate them to friends, and family, or just throw them out.
2. WEEDING YOUR GARDEN
Inevitably, you will have weeds in your garden. They will get everywhere, and keep growing until they overwhelm the plants you actually want to grow. To ensure that your plants don't drown under the weeds, make sure that you periodically clear the area of weeds by pulling the plants out by the root completely so no weed is left in the soil. The garden won't need to be entirely clear of weeds, but be sure that none of the weeds are threatening your plants' growth.
During a hot and sometimes dry summer, it's important to keep your garden properly hydrated. If your plants are in pots, you should try to water them once a day. If the soil is wet, though, hold off on the water so as not to drown the plants. In a garden bed, you should be watering about an inch or two of water from a hose per week, either in the early morning or evening, so the water can sink into the soil during a cool part of the day instead of evaporating. It's important to water the roots of the plant and not the leaves, because wet leaves can get moldy and tomatoes especially do poorly when they have watery leaves. If the soil looks too dry, it's ok to water more, just be sure that your plants aren't drowning.
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Thinning seedlings can seem intimidating at first! Here's a helpful video showing how to approach it