BREAKING THE ROOT BALL - Starter plants have spent the beginning of their lifetime confined to a very small growing space. This causes their roots to twist around each other. In order to ensure their roots can branch out in their new growing environment, it's important to break the root ball. To do this, hold the bottom of the compacted dirt at the base of your plant and gently pull it apart. The idea is to only break the very bottom of the base of the compacted dirt, not to break the entire compacted dirt apart. You don't want two separate plants. Once done, the plant is ready for transplanting into its new environment.
BUGS - While we love all creatures great and small, some bugs can cause damage to your garden. They can include aphids, caterpillars, and squash bugs. Look for small black bumps, curled foliage, and wilted vegetation. These are excellent signs that unwanted visitors are inhabiting your garden. Most of these can be removed by hand. For the rest, you can invest in some organic insecticide or you can make your own with some water, dish soap, garlic, and cayenne pepper.
FULL SUN - If a plant tag states full sun, it means that plant requires 6 hours of direct sun. However, fruits/vegetables need 8 hours of direct sun.
HARVEST - Pick ripe produce regularly. This will encourage new growth, and it will prevent the accumulation of any rotted produce. Rotten produce attracts unwanted pests.
MULCH - It's not just pretty, it's functional. A 2 to 3 inch layer of mulch provides insulation, cuts down on weeding, and retains moisture where plants need it most. We recommend an organic mulch for fruit/vegetable gardens.
PARTIAL SHADE/SUN - If a plant tag states partial shade/sun, it means the plant requires less than 6 hours of direct sun but at least 2 hours. So, the word shade is slightly misleading. The plant still needs sunlight. The real question is when does the plant need sun, and the answer is in the morning. Because morning sunlight is less harsh than afternoon sun.
SPACING - All plants like their space. It's important to remember that spacing is circular in nature. So when you see a plant tag that states space "X" inches apart, remember that means "X" inches in all directions.
SUPPORT - Some plants produce heavy fruit/vegetables. Others have a knack for climbing. These plants require support structures to grow properly. Tomatoes need stakes, or you can use a tomato cage. Cucumbers, peas, beans, winter squash, and berries will need a trellis, but fences work just as well.
TOP SOIL REMOVAL - If you plan on planting directly in the soil of your own backyard, remove the top layer of soil first. This is the layer that holds all the roots of your existing grass. Tilling this layer into the dirt below will only mix the roots into the soil, and you will be plagued with grass and weeds the entire growing season. A flat square head shovel is perfect for removing this top layer.
TRANSPLANTING - Before transplanting your starter plant into its new environment, dig a slightly bigger hole than the container that holds your starter plant. Once your starter plant is placed within the hole (after you've broken the root ball of course), lightly pack the soil around the starter plant. Make sure that the top of your starter plant is ground level and also the same depth that it was in its original pot. Don't forget to water the new plant after you transplant it.
WATERING - All plants need water. Resist the urge to water your plant's leaves. This can lead to mold, fungal diseases, and sun spots. Instead, try to water the plant's base. It's also better to water early in the morning or early in the day. In the event that you do accidentally water the leaves, the plant will have time to dry before nightfall when plants are more susceptible to mold.