Hi, I’m Kristin Schleiter with howdini.com. I’m here today to show you the basics of garden maintenance. We’re going to cover weeding, deadheading, and staking, the three most important things you need to do to keep your garden looking tidy all summer long.
The first and most important thing you need when doing gardening maintenance is a great garden bucket. You’re going to put all your weeds in it, you’re going to put the things you deadhead off the plants in it, and rather than making little piles as you go along the garden, you put them right in here, nice and tidy, and it goes with you as you go.
The next most important thing is a good pair of garden pruners. They should be sharp, and you’re going to use them to do your deadheading, you’re going to use them to cut back any perennials that might need a little cutback. I love this pair that has the turning handle because it cuts down a lot on the stress of your thumb if you’re doing a lot of work that day.
The next important thing is a great garden trowel. It should be very sturdy, because you really need to be able to get into the soil, and it’s, it’s great if it’s all one, good, strong piece.
A variety of different kinds of gardening stakes is very helpful. These bamboo stakes are, are one kind, and then there are these link stakes. Different sorts of plants require different kinds of staking. And then you need something to tie the plants to the stakes. I love good old-fashioned garden twine. It lasts the whole season, it’s biodegradable, and it gets the job done really well. All of these things should be easy to find at any garden center, or if you can’t find them, try the Internet. It pretty much works for anything.
The first thing we’re going to do, is weed the garden. It’s the most important thing that you can do to keep your garden looking neat and tidy. And besides keeping it looking good, it’s also really good for the garden. It makes sure that the plants that you want to be blooming are getting all the moisture and food that’s in there, and those nasty weeds aren’t sucking it all up.
Weeding is really actually very simple. The first thing you do is grab the weed right down next to the soil line, as low as you can go, and pull. It’s really important that you get the whole root of the weed. Without the root, all you’ve done is just prune your weeds, and they’ll come right back, so make sure that you get the root. After you’ve pulled it out, into the bucket it goes. If you don’t prefer to weed by hand, you can also do it using a trowel. Same sort of a concept, make sure that you get the trowel right by the roots, underneath the plant, pop it up, shake off your soil, you’ve got the whole root. Into the bucket it goes.
Some people also choose to weed chemically. You can apply an herbicide, wait about a week, and then go back and remove the dead weeds. If you do have any over spray, it will also kill the plants that you want to keep in your garden, but most importantly, it’s putting chemicals into the earth, and they’re going to find their way into the water source, and potentially into your glass of water. So I like to do my garden organically.
After you’re done weeding, the next step is deadheading. It keeps your garden looking nice and tidy, and it’s very good for the plants. The more you deadhead, the more blooms you get, especially on annuals – it should keep them going through most of the summer. When you’re deadheading, you want to make sure that you follow the spent flower back to where it has a natural break, where it’s branching off from another, to another branch that’s got a bud on it so that you’re not removing any flowers that might be coming, and yet you’re taking anything unsightly out of your garden. Then you can either pinch it with your fingers, or grab a pair of pruners and snip.
When you’re deciding which flowers to deadhead, look at the plant, and see which flowers look really pretty – like you’d like to cut them and put them on your table. Those are the ones you want to keep. Anything that’s starting to look a little dicey, or just downright awful, is what you want to remove. This one is probably just about ready to go, this one for sure is ready to go, and this one is just lovely so we’ll leave it right in place.
The third step in maintaining your garden is staking. In the spring, when all the plants are low, everything looks nice and tidy. But as the season goes on, the plants get taller, and some of them, like the Celosia, get a little bit too big for its space. The best way to rein them in is to do a little bit of staking. There’s lots of different stakes you can use, the kind, the two kinds I’m going to show you today, are a bamboo stick, which is perfect for things like Lilies or Dahlias, or anything that has a strong, central stem. And a link stake like this, which just makes a short little fence around a plant that’s sprawling a little bit too much, like this Celosia. When you’re using a bamboo stake, select the stem which you want to stake, and place the, the bamboo stake very close to it, pushing straight down, but making sure that you’re not so close to the base of the plant that you could be damaging its roots. Push down until you can feel the stake is very firm in the ground. This has got to be supporting the plant through wind or rain, so you want to make sure that it’s firm. Take the plant and a piece of twine, and loosely tie it underneath a leaf or branch, just enough to give it a little bit of extra support, but not so much that it can’t move anywhere in the wind. You want it still to have a natural look, so you don’t feel like you have a bunch of soldiers in your garden.
The next step is to gather together the plant that you want to stake up. Now, I’m mainly staking this because I love this Colias down here. It’s so beautiful, and it’s really getting lost underneath the weight of the Celosia. So we’re going to push this up, grab a stake. Now you might have to stick the stake in a couple of times because there are rocks in the soil – especially here in Connecticut. The link stakes have a loop at one end that slides into the hook at the other. So you want to place it just about at the end of the stake before it. And this is how you hook: you just very easily slip the hook into the loop. Couldn’t be easier. And you can turn the stake as you need to, to keep it nice and tidy, and there you have it. And now, we’ll add a third stake, and then I think we’ll be good to go.
Now we’ve got the Celosia up, out of the Colias, and everything’s looking a lot nicer.
So there you have it: the three basic steps of garden maintenance, weeding, deadheading, and staking. With a little bit of effort, and a little bit of time, it’s easy to keep your garden looking great all season long. I’m Kristin Schleiter with howdini.com.