3 Keys to a Healthy Garden

3 Keys to a healthy garden

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We put a significant amount of time, effort, and money into our gardens and when it doesn’t produce the results we want, it can be very frustrating. I don’t know about you but I don’t have a lot of resources that I want to waste. I want to invest my resources in something that will give me the results I am looking for. There are three key areas that will either make or break your gardening success.  Making sure that you put a little more effort into your soil, water and the amount of light your plants get will help you be more successful. Putting your effort into these 3 Key areas will help you have a healthy, productive garden. Let’s work smarter not harder.


The first key to a healthy garden is your Soil. Your soil is the foundation of your garden. If you do not have good soil, you can put all the time and money into your plants and not have success. However, if you have good soil, you will not need nearly as much time and effort to invest. Plants will thrive in good healthy soil. You will find you have less pest issues because the plants are healthier. You will even have less weeds and the ones you do have will come out easier and quicker.

So, what is good soil?

Key #1 - Soil

Good soil will have texture and typically be a dark color. It will have organic matter and you will see signs of life, like earthworms. A nice loam soil is ideal. There are several key nutrients that you will need including nitrogen, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, and phosphorus. The acidity of your soil also matters. Most vegetables like a slightly acidic soil around the 6-7 range. Some things like blueberries like a higher acidity but in general around 6.5 is good for most things. You can test you soil to find out where you are starting off and this will give you a better idea of what you need to add. In general, adding compost is a great way to improve soil. You will be adding organic matter, beneficial bacteria, and many nutrients to your soil.


The second key to a healthy garden is water. We all know if we don’t water our plants, they will die but there is more to it than that. Did you know that too much water can kill your plants as well? So, what is the right amount of water? Well, it depends on what you are growing, your soil, and the weather. It also depends on some other factors like whether you are planting directly in the ground or in containers or raised beds. A general rule of thumb for plants in the ground, is about one inch of water per week. Many plants you can get away with doing a nice deep soaking water once a week. This will work well for things with a deeper root system but things with a shallow root system will need smaller amounts of water each day. In the heat of summer, you may find you need to water twice a day. The key is to watch your plants. If they are drooping a tiny bit mid-day that might be okay but if they are staying droopy, they need more water.  Stick your hand in the soil, about a half inch to an inch below the surface should be slightly damp. Your soil should not stay soggy, or you may damage roots.

Watering methods

Key#2 Water

Drip systems can be great for some areas, but you do need to go out and inspect it and your plants regularly don’t just rely on the system completely. For larger garden areas a sprinkler can be the best option while hand watering ensures you are getting each plant and really taking the time to check on things. I find that the watering methods that make it the easiest for me are the best.  There are some areas that I need to hand water, an area of soaker hose and a couple of areas that I set the sprinkler. For me setting a timer when I turn the sprinkler on is a must.

Not only is the amount of water important, but the time of day that you water is also important. If you set a sprinkler in the heat of the day, very little water will actually make it into your soil and into your plants. You will lose a good portion to evaporation. Instead, I prefer to water first thing in the morning, before the sun hits my garden. The water has a chance to soak into the soil and everything is ready for the day. If you water at night sometimes you can set the stage for mold as things could stay too wet for too long. Your specific climate will play a role in this too so just be mindful of when you are watering as well as how much.

While it is commonly thought that you will burn your plants if you water mid day, this is not actually true. The problem is really more that the water will evaporate faster and not do your plants as much good. If you find that you really need to water something midday, that is okay just be sure you are getting the water to the soil around your plant. Some mulch around the base of your plant will help retain the moisture in the soil.


Finally, light is another key to a healthy garden. This is really more influenced by your site location. If you choose the shady corner of your yard, you may not have enough hours of light to get your plants to grow. Plant growth requires light. They need the light for photosynthesis which is how they produce energy to grow. Different varieties of plants require different amounts of light. That is why some plants will grow in the shade while others will not. Most veggies are not huge shade lovers. Most vegetables are producing a lot of growth, we want them to flower and fruit which takes a significant amount of energy. So, when you are determining where to put your garden, make sure you will get at least 6-8 hours of sunlight.  

Key #3 Light

Putting your effort into these 3 keys to a healthy garden will definitely pay off. If you have good soil, the right amount of water, and plenty of light you will be on track for a great harvest.

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