One element to gardening that is important to consider is that plants grow better when they are cultivated in a climate and soil condition that they are designed to flourish in. For example, our weather is very temperate – it never gets very hot or very cold – which is great for growing year-round, but not so wonderful for growing heat-loving vegetables like tomatoes and peppers. We hope to remedy this by growing them in the hoop house my husband constructed; however, we learned the hard way that simply sticking plants or seeds in the soil, watering, and weeding does not guarantee gardening success.
Know Your Frost Dates
The first key to gardening is to not plant too early (or too late). You can’t always know how the weather is going to turn out during any given year, but you can look up weather patterns to find the last frost before the planting season and the first frost of fall. This information is helpful to prevent damage due to unexpected frosts.
Climate and Season Length
Consider the humidity levels and temperature in your location. You may struggle with growing long season or heat-loving vegetables like me, or you may have trouble growing cool season plants. Whatever your growing situation is, be sure to factor it into the plants you choose to grow. The Plant Hardiness Zone Map can be helpful in determining what will develop successfully in your area.
Know Your Soil
It is very helpful to know the type of soil you have to work with. There are three basic soil types: sandy, loamy, or clay. You can also test the pH of your soil with a simple test available at most garden centers. Some plants grow best in sandy soil, while others prefer another type, or a certain mix. The same is true of soil pH. Once you determine your soil type, you will have a better understanding of what will grow well in your garden. You can always amend your soil through different methods to achieve a different soil environment.
Talk to Your Neighbors
One of the best resources for growing in your area is a local gardener. Talk to people about what has worked for them, and what dates they recommend planting. Those of us who have learned by trial and error can save you some wasted efforts.