The Ultimate Guide to Protecting Plants
Taking care of plants comes with the territory of gardening, whether for subsistence or commercial use. Landscaping your front or backyard requires properly maintained crops that enhance the outlook of your home.
In this article, we discuss techniques for protecting your plants so they can thrive from planting stage through maturity and harvest.
#1. Natural pesticides
Pests can be a nuisance as they nib on the roots and stems of plants, thus weakening them. You can counter a pest infestation by applying pesticides on a routine basis. As the campaign for organic foods heightens, gardeners are becoming increasing conscious of their farming practices.
Avoid using pesticides that are laden with chemicals as these compounds will transfer into the produce. Opt for organic pesticides made by mixing nontoxic household products such as dishwashing soaps, vinegar, liquid detergent, and neem oil.
These formulations are effective in eradicating common pests like aphids, thrips, whiteflies and spider mites. If you have used synthetic pesticides before, clean the spray equipment before pouring the natural insecticide to avoid contamination.
#2. Apply fertilizer
Even when the soil or planting medium have a high content of nutrients, it is advisable to boost nutrients by applying fertilizer at planting stage and throughout the plant's lifecycle. Fertilizers help crops to grow fast and reach their maximum potential.
Healthy and nourished plants give high returns on foliage, fruit or tubers. Plants take in fertilizer in two ways; through the roots or foliage dressing. Gardening experts recommend using a slow-release fertilizer at planting stage as it allows absorption of fertilizer chemicals in sequence, as opposed to overwhelming the crop.
Nitrogen is a fundamental component of fertilizer, and it acts as a growth booster and greening agent. Potassium strengthens the stalks and enables them to hold more water, thus becoming drought resistant. Phosphorous is another crucial element in fertilizers that serves to accelerate the maturity process of crops.
#3. Efficient watering
Plants require optimal levels of water to allow photosynthesis, the process of converting light energy into chemical energy that helps in the ideal functioning of the plant.
Water enters the plant through the roots and travels up the stem until it reaches the leaves where photosynthesis takes place. Water is an essential ingredient in germination as it activates the enzymes that orchestrate the sprouting process.
Another crucial benefit of water is helping roots to absorb nutrients from the soil. Plants need water for transpiration, the process of releasing vapor-containing water through the stomata of leaves.
Transpiration keeps the plants cool during warm days, and it helps nutrients and water to flow throughout the plant's system. If your landscaping endeavor includes growing monkey grass, use a sprinkler system to water in the morning or evening hours when the temperatures are cool.
#4. Weed control
Weeds are an inevitable part of gardening that can swiftly become a nightmare if you fail to act fast. You can prevent or slow the sprouting of weeds by applying a pre-emergent control like Preen that helps to curb the growth of annual weeds.
For best results, use this chemical early on in the spring before weeds start germinating. Mulch is another form of weed control that suffocates weeds and keeps the soil moisturized by reducing the rate of evaporation.
Effective weed control requires frequent weeding by pulling out young weeds before they mature and spread throughout the farm. Thermal weed control is another option where heat kills weeds without interfering with the ground.
For large pieces of land or overgrown weeds, use weed control tools like finger weeder, roller crimper, or Agri Ronco. Some farmers use crop rotation cover cropping for the same purpose. Invest in proper maintenance tools to trim overgrown vegetation and keep your landscaping clean.
#5. Warm soil
Correct temperature is a prerequisite to the germination of seeds. The ideal temperatures vary from plant to plant. For instance, beans germinate in temperatures of sixty to ninety-five Fahrenheit.
If you plant seeds in cold soil, they may fail to germinate or even if they do, the lack the strength needed to grow properly. Such plants often suffer from stunted growth, and they become vulnerable to pest attacks and diseases.
Warm soil boosts the speed of biological processes that furnish the plants with nutrients. The accurate measurement of warmth requires a soil thermometer. You can find a variety of thermometers at your local garden center or the hardware section of supermarkets.
Homeowners who grow crops in the front or backyard are familiar with animal invasions that eat their crops. Deer, rabbits, woodchuck and even family pets like dogs can wreak havoc on your garden.
Since you cannot fight these animals with insecticides or pesticides, you will need a more creative solution to protect your plants. Erecting a fence around your plants is the most prevalent solution in the suburbs or farm areas.
Fencing material depends on the animal that you have in mind; if you want to keep chickens away from tomatoes, a mesh fence will suffice. Electric fences are ideal for warding off wild animals like hyenas. You can also build a wooden fence with reclaimed wood to keep costs low.
#7. Air circulation
Crops need plenty of air to survive. The leaves access carbon dioxide present in the air and use it to make starches and sugars. The roots also need oxygen to stay healthy so they can perform their tasks of gathering water and nutrients from the soil or other planting media.
If the roots fail to perform their standard functions, the plant becomes stressed, and this reduces its lifespan. Leave enough spacing between plants so that air can easily circulate. It is common to clustered plants on small patches of land, particularly in the suburbs.
Growing plants close to each other harbors the free flow of air and creates a micro-environment for diseases to thrive. Lack of fresh air leads to accumulation of toxic gasses that affect growth. If you are new to gardening, seek advice from your local gardening experts on how much spacing to give.
#8. Winter covers
If you live in an area that experiences harsh winters for months on end, it is imperative that you protect your plants from frost. The easiest way is covering up the garden before nightfall using a tarp, cardboard boxes or plastic row covers.
This practice helps the plants to retain the heat they acquired or produced during the day. Potting plants allows for mobility when the cold weather hits. During heavy snowfall, transport your potted plants to the patio or garage and return them when the sun comes up.
Avoid placing these crops near vents as the air will dry them up. Ensure that your plants get adequate sunshine during winter by setting up a sunroom in the shed or garage.
Taking care of plants is a rewarding process that can quickly become a family activity. Invite your kids for garden walks after school and assign small chores like collecting fallen leaves, weed control, and harvesting fruits. Maintain your crops throughout the season for a bounty harvest.