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This is, of course, one of the most frequently asked questions about any type of gardening. From vegetable gardens to succulents, how much and how often to water can be challenging to determine. The bad news is that there is not a uniform answer that is going to work for every gardener and you cannot simply decide you are going to water once a week on Sundays and leave it at that.
How often you need to water your garden will depend on a variety of factors, including the climate where you live, the time of year, the amount of rainfall you receive, the type of soil you have, where your plants are located in your garden, and whether your plants are in containers or the ground.
Even when you think you have it all figured out, it will change on you, because your soil is going to dry out faster some weeks than it does other weeks. For example, your soil is going to dry out a lot faster during hot, dry months than it will during colder months. You will also find that some plants in your garden need water more often than others.
So, here is what you are going to do so that you know how often to water your plants.
The first step is to read the labels when you purchase seeds or plants. Mostly, you need to know if the plant is drought-tolerant once established or if it prefers moist soil. Plants that prefer moist soil are going to need to be watered more often.
For most of your plants, you are simply going to stick your finger about one inch into the soil. If the soil is dry, it is time to water deeply. If the soil still feels moist, wait until it feels dry. In Southern California, most gardeners are able to water deeply about once a week in cooler weather and twice a week in hotter weather.
If you really have a hard time knowing when to water your garden, plant some leafy green lettuces between your vegetables or in your flowerbed. When the lettuce leaves start to wilt, it is time to water.
How often you fertilize depends on what you are fertilizing and which type of fertilizer you are using. If you are fertilizing fruit trees with a fertilizer made specifically for them, you are going to fertilize them once a year in spring. If you are fertilizing a natural grass lawn, you will likely want to do that twice a year (some people even do it three times per year). Vegetable gardeners can fertilize their garden beds about once a month with a quick-release fertilizer or about once a season with a slow-release fertilizer. For great organic option concider the Viagrow earth worm castings.
Some gardeners prefer to feed their flowers and plants with a liquid-soluble plant food once every one to two weeks.
Some plants are heavy feeders and require regular fertilizing to thrive, while others will happily grow and produce for years with little to know fertilizer. In fact, there are some plants that you might kill if you fertilize them too often and increase the level of nitrogen in the soil higher than they can handle.
If you really want to get into fertilizing for enhanced blooms or higher food production, look up each type of plant to find the type of fertilizer and fertilizing schedule that works best for them.
Most gardeners are going to do just fine if they mix compost into the soil before planting, side dress their plants with more compost every couple of months and use a natural, liquid-soluble plant food once or twice a month.
Full shade refers to areas in your garden that receive fewer than four hours of sun each day.
Partial shade and partial sun refer to areas of your garden that receive between four hours and six hours of sun each day. If your plant calls for partial shade, it will do better at the lower end of this sun exposure scale. If your plant calls for partial sun, it will do better at the higher end of this time frame.
Full sun refers to areas in your garden that receive at least six hours of sun each day.
The answer to these gardening questions depends on your gardening situation. Most plants can be grown in containers, look at the Viagrow plastic grow bags, Viagrow fabric pots and most purchased are the Viagrow thermoformed plastic pots. In raised garden beds or in the ground your choice is more dependent on how much space you have, how good your ground soil is and your particular gardening needs.
Soil amendments are materials added to soil to improve soil structure, enhance drainage or moisture retention, adjust your soil’s pH, or add nutrients. For example, you might add Coir ( which are coconut shells ground up ) sustainable, all natural and environmentally friendly – We do not recommend Peat as mining of peat bogs are not environmentally friendly. To improve the soil structure, or you might use compost as a soil amendment to add nutrients and improve your soil’s structure. It is always a good idea to add perlite and or vermiculite to your soil mix as these amendments decrease compaction and increase porosity allowing plants to convert available nutrients into food.
If you are just getting started, don’t have much time to dedicate to gardening or are pretty sure you were not born with a green thumb, it is a great idea to choose some easy-to-grow food plants. This will allow you to enjoy the benefits of growing your own food without the stress or time of caring for higher-maintenance plants. If you need to build your gardening confidence, this is also a great way to expand your gardening skills and build on your successes. Growing easy vegetables is also a good choice if you plan on gardening with your kids.
The terms compost and mulch are sometimes used interchangeably, which has created some confusion regarding the difference between the two. While compost is sometimes used as mulch, they are two different things that serve different purposes in your garden.
The basic answer to this gardening question is that compost is an organic soil amendment made up of decomposed materials. Gardeners mix compost into soil or side dress plants with it throughout the season to add nutrients to the soil and improve soil structure.
Mulch is most often used to describe organic materials but can describe either organic or inorganic materials that are spread on top of the soil to limit weed growth, reduce erosion, moderate soil temperature and improve moisture retention. Some common types of mulch include wood chips, gravel, straw or pine needles.
You have probably heard many references regarding plants becoming established. In Southern California, you have likely seen tags on plants that say they are drought-tolerant once established. If you listen to gardening podcasts or read gardening articles, you have probably heard people talk about plants being well established.
If so, then you likely know that your plants need more water and food before they are established and that you can start watering them less once they are established. This, of course, leads to the perennial gardening question: How do you know when a plant is established?
After you transplant a plant into your garden, it will take time for the root system to develop and spread into the surrounding soil and for new growth to appear on the plant. This is the time (prior to becoming established) that your plants need more food and water, since their root systems are not able to adequately extract them from the soil.
Once the root system is established, you will notice new growth above the soil. You will also notice that you cannot simply yank the plant out of the ground with a little tug. Shrubs can take one to two years to become established. Trees might take up to three years to become established in your garden.
Soil pH is a measurement of the alkalinity or acidity of soil. Soil pH is measured on a scale of 1-14, with 7 as the neutral mark. The ideal range for most plants is between 6–7. Most plants prefer a somewhat neutral pH, anything from 6.2 to 7.0. However there are many plants that are more specific in their pH needs, Generally speaking, if your plants are growing healthy, with no signs of problems, your soil pH is probably in an acceptable range. However if your plants are looking stressed, discolored, or not growing vigorously, one of the first things you should do is test your pH. To test and adjust the pH in water or a liquid fertilizer mix use the VLPTK4, Viagrow pH control kit. To test in soild or dry mediums use the VPTK4, Viagrow pH test kit.
1. Get the containers ready. Line your seed containers with your seed growing medium, we recommend a 60% coir, 20% perlite & 20% vermiculite mix. Fill the containers to within half an inch of the rim, rather than all the way to the top. Sprinkle water over the growing medium to moisten the growing medium all the way to the bottom. Don't douse it in water; it should just be slightly wet to provide a good environment for the seeds.
2. Determine whether to soak the seeds. Some seeds need to be soaked for a few hours before planting, while others can go straight into the growing medium without soaking. Determine whether the seeds you have need any type of pre-processing before they get planted. Look on the seed packet or research the seed variety you are growing. To soak seeds, place them in a clean container and cover them with room temperature water. Let them sit for between 3 and 24 hours. Strain them and pat them dry with a paper towel. If you soak your seeds, plan to plant them directly afterward. Don't let them dry out again first.
3. When you are ready to plant or Sow the seeds. Scatter seeds evenly over the growing medium preferably coir or plant then directly into super plugs or Coir seedling starter cubes and use your fingers to lightly press them in, if need be you can create a hole about 1” inch down cover the seeds with a layer of growing medium about three times the thickness of the seeds. Moisten the growing medium again once the seeds are sown.