Soil can vary from one spot in your yard to another. If you aren't using a soil tester, you have no idea what kind of nutrients -- or lack thereof -- your soil holds. Without that information, you have no way of knowing what additives your soil may need in order for your plants to be their most successful. Soil also can change from one growing season to another, so it's important to get into the habit of testing your soil each season for best results.
Overhead watering isn't the most effective. Not only do you risk wasting water as it blows in the wind; too-wet leaves also can become a breeding ground for fungus and disease. Consider a drip irrigation system or soaker hose instead. This way your plants get the moisture they need from the soil directly at the roots, where they need it most. Schedule your watering in the early morning hours before it gets too hot to prevent premature evaporation. Excess moisture overnight can encourage disease.
Amending your soil means to add back nutrients your plants have sapped while growing. Amending the soil can be as easy as adding compost, which can be purchased from local farmers, farmers markets, or garden centers. It is also incredibly easy to make your own at home. Learn how to create your own compost.
Aphids and other garden pests will make quick work of destroying your plants. But you might be nervous about pest control because you're worried it means adding poison to your garden. The good news? There are natural solutions to pest control that can be safe for your family and the environment. Research and select pest- and disease-resistant plants, ensure proper spacing, and employ nontoxic sprays or traps when needed.
Mulch is the insurance policy that protects all of your hard work. Not only does it help your soil retain moisture, certain types of mulch also can add necessary nutrients back to your soil. So it not only keeps your plants safe but it also helps them grow!