Gardening is a pastime that's as old as civilization, itself, and those who practice it today have the same goal in mind as generations worth of predecessors: Bountiful plants that are healthy and productive. As anyone who has tried their hand at this activity will tell you, though, planting a seed is easy, but creating an environment where that seed will thrive is not always that simple.
While a green thumb can go a long way in creating a healthy, productive garden, no individual gardener is an island! Even André Le Nôtre, the gardener Louis XIV commissioned to create the garden at Versailles (the garden National Geographic ranked the best in the world), had help from other contemporaries to bring his vision to life. If a master gardener like Monsieur Le Nôtre was in your phone's contact list, calling him up and asking these five simple questions would help you improve whatever variety of garden you're looking to grow.
1.Will This Plant Thrive in My Geographic Location?
Gardening is a pastime that's as old as civilization, itself, and those who practice it today have the same goal in mind as generations worth of predecessors
We don't know exactly how many different types of flora exist in the world, but it's pretty safe to say there are quite a few. Each kind of plant has an environment it calls home, and that home is where the plant will naturally grow best. Some species have a home that spans halfway around the globe; other plants have homes that are only a few square miles in size. A determined gardener can replicate a geographic region's conditions in order to make a plant feel at home, but the time, energy, and resources needed to do this with some species is simply too much for most of us to bear.
Choosing plants that feel at home in your specific neck of the woods not only makes growing them easier, it is a more environmentally-friendly choice. By picking plants that naturally thrive in your area, you'll see better results with less effort that requires the use of fewer extras like fertilizer and artificial watering schedules.
2.How Big Will This Plant Get?
More than a few gardeners have nurtured a seed or seedling to adulthood only to find that the mature plant is much too large for the space it was allotted. This doesn't just look awkward, it can have negative negatively affect the growth of other plants in the vicinity. Knowing the approximate size of the adult plant will help you plan your garden properly and ensure that no single species hogs all the water and sunlight.
3.Is This an Heirloom Variety?
It's your garden and you can grow whatever you like, but there are certain benefits to growing heirloom plants that should not be overlooked. Heirloom plants are available in more varieties, so you'll be able to grow vegetables that would be difficult or impossible to find in a grocery store. The seeds from heirloom fruits can also be saved and used in the next growing season. The most commonly-stated reason to grow heirloom plants, however, is the taste--something you'll have to experience yourself to truly understand.
4.How Should I Prepare My Soil for This Plant?
Different plants need different levels of nutrients to be bountiful, and different soils contain different levels of nutrients. In addition to finding out what the roots of a specific species of plant will enjoy feasting on (eggshells, manure, Epsom salts, etc.), every gardener should test his or her soil to see what kinds of nutrients are already abundant. Creating a balance between plant preferences and soil offerings will create strong, healthy plants that have a leg up right from the start.
5.What Will This Plant Attract?
There are plenty of insects and animals out there that gardeners see all the time and non-gardeners may never see at all. The reason why? Gardeners grow plants that specifically attract these creatures. Some plants attract butterflies; others attract bees. A few will attract larger animals like deer or even bears! If you don't want a specific creature in your yard, planting something that lures that specific creature can be a nightmare. Ask before you plant and you'll avoid luring something unwanted to your property, keeping you, your unwanted guests, and your plants happy.