Like everything else in life, gardens are more enjoyable if they are well cared for. Being living things, gardens grow. Your plants grow, their insect pests and fungus diseases grow, and the weeds always grow. All of these are easiest to care for if cared for frequently.
Garden care is best done frequently. If let go for weeks, weeding can be an imposing task that would daunt the stoutest soul. But taken in small bits, pulling a few weeds at a time, it isn’t so bad. If each part of the garden gets attention at least weekly, with the pruning kept up, the weeds pulled, the plants inspected for insect or disease problems, garden care becomes a light and pleasant activity.
Many successful gardeners just “putter,” pulling a weed here, noting a new insect there, propping up a drooping peony over there. This is the best way to care for a garden. Some jobs require getting out special tools and sprays, but most can be carried out with a trowel, a pair of clippers, and a garbage bag.
An important part of care is paying attention to the plants. This, too, is best done frequently. An insect infestation can often be stopped before it has a chance to damage the plant if spotted early enough. Weeds—even difficult weeds—are easy to kill while they’re seedlings. While you are puttering, examine plants. Part the leaves to peer into the interior. Turn leaves over to see the bottoms.
Fertilizing works best if put on a regular schedule—perhaps even marked on a calendar. Most garden plants thrive on three feedings a year with a slow-release fertilizer.
Watering should also be put on a schedule if you live in a dry-summer area. In places where rain takes care of most of your watering, watering is done “on demand,” and you check for dry soil as you are puttering.
If you don’t really like taking care of a garden, select plants that are native to your region, or to regions with climates like yours. They will survive on natural water, be able to fight off the local bugs and diseases, and carry through the winter with no care on your part at all.