Expert advice for the beginning gardener

By on June 12, 2010

by Maggie Brundige
Kaneland Krier Reporter

Spring is here, which means it’s time to pull your green thumbs out of your pockets and begin planting.

Illinois has the perfect climate for not only flower gardens, but for vegetable gardens too. This is because the area gets enough precipitation throughout the year to moisten the soil, which is perfect for the growth and development of plants, Laura Widhalm, Kaneland High School horticulture teacher, said.

Selecting the right spot, and the plants that will thrive there, is key.

“You need to know how much sunlight your plants need so you can pick a spot on your land to start your garden,” Tim Norris, of Spring Bluff Nursery in Sugar Grove, said. “You will need to till the spot and fertilize it before you plant, as well as after.” Make sure water is accessible.

Norris and Widhalm offered the following tips for beginning gardeners:
1. Begin by finding an open piece of land to start your garden.
2. Till the soil with a shovel making sure every chunk of dirt is broken up evenly, giving your plants ability to breath.
3. Both vegetable and flower gardens need fertilizer to enhance the quality and growth. Lightly sprinkle fertilizer over the tilled soil, and mix it together with a shovel.
4. For a vegetable garden, the soil must be moistened, so gently sprinkle water on top with a hose until a layer of water is formed. Once all of the standing water has absorbed into the soil, begin planting seeds.

How much maintenance the garden will require varies, depending on the type of garden.

“The type of garden will determine the amount of care needed every day. The basic tools you will need to take care of your garden will be a hoe shovel and a hose,” Andie Strang, a Kaneland High School junior whose family owns Strang Inc., said.

Strang said growing vegetables and flowers is a fairly easy task, but that beginning gardeners need to understand that gardening takes time.

“If they research and take time, it’s easy,” Strang said. “But they have to put in more than one day’s effort. Gardening is a daily job.”

Norris advised regular care as well.

“Weed on a daily basis, keeping the garden neat and clean,” Norris advised.

“You will need to water it every day to keep them growing.”

Vegetable gardens need water twice a day in order to grow healthy and develop to their full potential, Strang said.

“Every specific plant needs specific care. Knowing the needs of each plant is extremely important,” Strang said.