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The Ultimate Guide to Horticulture: Gardening Basics

Updated: Nov 18, 2021

Most people are either intimidated by gardening or terrified of the everyday upkeep that must accompany a full garden. If you are worried about your chances of success, worry no longer! There is an easy guide to gardening for every level of expertise. From tips on how to get started and buy the right plants, to how-to's for essential tasks like watering and fertilizing, even crafting your own soil mixes, horticulture has never been easier.

You don't have to be a green thumb to turn your back garden into a beautiful fount of food and flowers. The Ultimate Guide to Horticulture will help you get the most out of every fresh, delicious growing season.

A person carefully planting seeds in his garden
Horticulture is more than just gardening, it's art!

Take your gardening from basic to fabulous: Know the difference between annuals and perennials? Figured out what a pH level is? Decide which plants are right for your growing zone?

Then get ready to learn even more! This article covers everything from pH levels to soil types and the art of composting. You'll be a horticulture pro in no time.

But, first...

What is Horticulture?

Horticulture is the art or science of cultivating plants. It includes caring for plants, raising seedlings, and nurturing young plants, as well as the harvesting and preservation of fruit and vegetables. Anyone with green thumbs can grow a vegetable garden, but to achieve maximum production, it's important to know how to choose your crops and how to properly care for your gardens.

Horticulture is a key component in any sustainable food system — both locally and globally. The ability to grow food in your own backyard helps reduce the need for long-distance shipping and also reduces landfill waste since you're only disposing of plant matter that you won't eat. It also promotes conservation — planting natural gardens instead of chemical ones, for instance, not only eliminates the need to use pesticides and herbicides but also encourages biodiversity.

Horticulture is a rewarding hobby or profession. Many individuals choose to grow their own food because they don't want to purchase it at the grocery store. Grow it yourself and you know exactly what went into your food!

How to get started on Horticulture?

Get Inspired…Motivated… and get Growing!

A vibrant and healthy garden consists of a variety of plants. The following tips will help get you started:

  1. Choosing the best location will influence how your garden grows. For example, if you want to grow mizuna, an Asian leaf vegetable that grows well in hot climates, plant it away from the house or other buildings where vines might be a problem.

  2. Make sure the area has good drainage and that it's well-drained year-round.

  3. Choose a site that gets at least six hours of sunlight per day.

  4. Be careful of where you place your garden. A vegetable garden near a septic tank or well could contaminate the water source.

  5. Shade-loving plants will not do well in areas that are exposed to full sun all day long, so consider their needs before you decide on a spot for them.

  6. Develop a plan, making sure you have plenty of room for compost piles and a garden shed.

  7. If you want to grow fruits, prepare an area that receives full sun.

  8. To get your soil ready for planting, add organic matter like peat moss or compost and make sure the pH levels are between 6 and 7. Remove rocks or any other debris from the soil. If your soil is heavy clay or hard-packed, dig it to loosen it up before adding organic matter.

  9. Prepare your soil for vegetables by digging the area with a fork.

  10. Layer the topsoil and compost into six inches.

  11. Plant herbs and flowers in pots or in the ground, setting them about six inches apart, so they don't crowd each other out.

  12. Plant lettuces and other greens along with stems so they take root quickly. A good rule of thumb is to use three times more stem plants than leaf or root crops.

  13. Plant fruit trees in a good location with at least six hours of sunlight.

  14. Organic compost can be made using animal manure, shredded newspaper, and straw, along with some vegetable scraps. The scraps can be mixed together in an open-top plastic container so they can decompose naturally. While compost may smell a bit funny when you start out, it doesn't stay that way long. The bacteria in the soil will break down the compost and make it good to grow with.

  15. Use a garden rake to turn over the soil underneath your herbs and vegetables.

  16. Soil tests are a great way to find out if you need any amendments or fertilizers. Depending on the results, you can then use the particular fertilizer that's best for your area.

  17. Topical application of various organic compounds (sometimes called organic pesticides) is a simple and effective way of boosting your plants' defenses against disease.

  18. Organic pest control can be achieved through companion planting. Try to avoid using synthetic fertilizers or pesticides in your garden. Organic gardens are not only healthier for the crops and the soil, but they're safer for animals and people, too.

  19. Use sturdy stakes as supports for your vine crops, such as squash and pumpkins. Many of them will grow quickly and climb on their own. Tie them to the stake or trellis using twine. Make sure you have stakes or some way to tie up tomatoes. They need support as they grow, and so do cucumbers, melons, and other types of vine crops.

  20. Be sure to plant vegetables that mature at the same time so they can be harvested at the same time.

  21. Ensure your plants receive enough sunlight throughout their growing season by watering them during dry spells.

  22. If you paint the tips of your plants with a solution of diluted vinegar, the leaf stems will curl or twist. This will discourage pests and diseases.

A large plantation of beautiful flowers
With great care and attention. you can produce beautiful produce!

Follow these other tips for growing beautiful and healthy produce:

  1. Keep plants well-watered at all times. You can use our Wi-Fi watering timer to make sure that your plants stay hydrated!

  1. Remove weeds before they go to seed by picking them off as they appear.

  2. Remove all diseased or insect-infested leaves straight away to prevent fruit damage.

  3. Keep fruits off the ground as much as possible, especially apples, pears, and squash.

  4. Harvest the produce you grow for food immediately. Do not leave it on the plant to keep it growing.

  5. When a crop is ripe, remove it from the plant and wash it thoroughly.

  6. Avoid using harmful sprays or chemicals that are harmful to humans or wildlife, such as those that contain sulfates, benzoyl peroxide, or lime sulfur.

  7. Keep water sources clear of debris.

  8. Fertilize only in the middle of the month, once a month.

  9. Add compost or manure to the soil when preparing it for planting.

  10. Keep plants watered and weed-free for optimum health and productivity. Don't let weeds go to seed; instead, remove them from your garden as soon as you find them.

  11. Make sure you have enough light or space between your plants to allow air circulation around them. You can also use trellises to support growing vines.

  12. Remove diseased leaves to prevent the spread of disease.

  13. Do not put weeds in compost piles if they have gone to seed.

  14. Weed your garden regularly, especially when the crops are young. The roots of many weed varieties can cause damage or death to young plants.

  15. You can make your own potting mix by mixing up equal parts of peat moss, compost, and vermiculite (or sand).

  16. Use a lightweight potting mix for seedlings. Use a medium mix for larger plants.

  17. Use a heavy mix for plants that need support, such as tomatoes and beans, or those that are subject to wind damage.

  18. Group plants with similar water needs together so that they can be watered the same day.

  19. Keep the soil damp but not soggy. If it's dry, add water immediately; wait until it's almost on the dry side before you add more water.

  20. Consider rotating your crops to prevent soil from getting too depleted. If the plants take different nutrients out of the ground, they'll keep it balanced.

  21. Rotate plants, so that the same family isn't planted in the same place year after year. This will help with pests and diseases, too.

  22. Group vegetables like beans and peas together if you want them to vine or climb a trellis or wall.

  23. Water carefully, so that you do not shock the roots of young plants.

  24. If your plants are growing in a dry area, place them under a drip irrigation system to keep the soil moist.

  25. In order to have organic produce, it's best to start out with an organic potting mix.

  26. Organic mulches are made from plant products such as straw, bark chips, and pine needles. Use them to keep weeds down and retain moisture.

  27. Outside plants can be protected from insects using row covers that allow sunlight in but keep insects out. Use well-drained and enriched soil for your plants, especially if they need lots of water or nutrients.

What equipment will you need for horticulture?

  1. A shovel and a hoe are probably the two most important pieces of equipment you'll need for gardening. A shovel is great for digging up soil and getting rid of old plants. A hoe is great for removing weeds and making new holes for plants. If you want a starting kit for your gardening, check this out! All you need in one!

  1. A spade is another useful tool for digging and dividing plants.

  2. Rake, hoe, and pitchfork are all great tools for weeding.

  3. When transplanting, you'll need a trowel to make holes in the ground for all your little seedlings. A watering can is also helpful when planting seeds or young plants. It's important that seeds are watered regularly so they don't dry out before germinating.

  4. A wheelbarrow is useful for moving all your soil and compost from one place to another.

  5. Also useful are tarpaulins, plastic sheets, and styrofoam coolers that you can use as an outdoor growing or storage area.

  6. You might also want to buy a seed-starting tray for planting seedlings. These trays have holes in the bottom that allow water to drain, so you don't have to worry about damaging germinating plants.

  7. You'll also need stakes and string if you're going to grow your tomatoes on a trellis or if you want to stake your other plants.

  8. Do not use treated lumber for building walls or structures; it may be toxic to your plants.

  9. Make sure that any chemicals you use are safe for humans and wildlife in general (and especially children).

In summation, horticulture is the care and cultivation of plants for food, medicinal or aesthetic purposes. Horticulture is the art and science of growing fruits, vegetables, flowers, sod, seeds, bulbs, herbs and nursery stock. Learning horticulture is a great way to learn about nature's bounty while providing yourself with some healthy food. Gardeners need to be careful about which plants they choose because certain plants cannot be grown together in close proximity due to an incompatibility.

Horticulture can also be seen as a form of therapy. Read the following article and find out more about the healing power of gardening.

Horticulture Therapy: The healing Power of Gardening

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