Maintaining plants seems like a tough battle for many. Pests, withering plants, fungus and viruses, a plant is no different from a person when it comes to health problems when we are malnourished or living in horrible conditions. Whether you are growing edibles, exotics or just flowers to admire, in this article we will discuss 6 fundamentals we must achieve to maintain healthy plants and gardens.
I cannot emphasise this enough because my number one thing on my list is soil. It is the absolute fundamental that you get this right from the start. If you are stingy with soil, don't waste your time growing plants. Plants take in over 30 primary and secondary nutrients to maintain proper plant health. Just like you, an edible plant that feeds you iron, potassium or magnesium, and many other elements you learnt in chemistry class needs to get it from somewhere. Any deficiency means a road to poor plant health and a host of problems that come after.
The very basic is a good draining soil, filled with organic material, preferably incorporated with humus rich top-soil. A soil filled with organic material will grow a host beneficial microbes that create that crucial nutrient exchange ecosystem to support plants in taking in the right nutrients required for strong plant growth.
Good soils hold nutrients and water well, dispensing life giving sustenance to the plant when they need it. Bad soils allow rain and daily watering so strip nutrients away creating a soil devoid of life. If there is nothing in your soil, I'm guessing you expect your plants to live only on sun and water.
2. NUTRIENT MANAGEMENT
If soil quality is low, a plant becoming malnourished is just an eventual outcome. What happens when you are you are malnourished? Your immune responses fail and a host of disease come to attack your body. A malnourished plant similarly attract pests to come, only to consume it so that its is broken down and returned back to the soil to feed back into the ecosystem.
Ensure you work out an organic nutrient application program to ensure those natural probiotic catalysts are available to feed not only the plants, but the soil as well. It is not only about putting more, it is what, when and how much. Feed very little but often.
3. SUN & WATERING
Water is important, but not that important for many plants as well. Before you start heading for your watering can and dousing those roots full of water, a simple way is to read up on the plant and how much water and type of soil it actually likes. Some plants like it wet, some plants prefer a watering only once every week. Too much water equals to root rot and fungal issues, too little and the plant dries up into a twig. So read up before you start planting and save yourself the unnecessary heart ache.
Plants can be susceptible a sunburn. A sunburned plant will have leaves that start to turn white. So when you know it is an indoor plant, keep it indoors with indirect light, not baking under direct hot sunlight. For plants that thrive in the sun, take note of heat waves that can also damage your plants when they run out of water. If you have good soil, chances of having a better water holding capacity can help your plants cope during hot days.
We get terribly hot days in Singapore and with the sun baking down on our clayey soils, it is no wonder it turns hard and compacted. Plant roots can barely penetrate these soils, much less get any nutrients out of it. Watering will do little to soften the clay when the sun comes out, so when you load those soils with good topsoil, you want to mulch the surface with wood chips or shredded leaves to keep your remediate soils moist enough to let nature work on it. With a soil that can retain moisture, beneficial microbial life, earthworms and insects can live and work your soils into a living medium.
5. KEEP YOUR EYES ON THOSE BUGS
There are times that even the most experienced gardeners will get a bout of pest infestations at the garden plots. And problems can come from a number of problems that a gardener has no control over. Weather, temperature even pollution. And the difference between a good gardener and a not so good one is who notices problems before they become a widespread issue, When it comes to pests, leaves wrinkling or presenting discolored spots usually mean something sinister is lurking under the leaves sucking it dry. Flip it around and start destroying those buggers before they destroy all your plants.
6. NO OVERCROWDING
Everything needs a little breathing space. Overcrowded plants will increase humidity, block out sun and fungus and those bugs will set right in to eat away. So trim your plants and make sure there is some breathing and airflow. How much trimming is needed you ask? As long as it does not look congested with plants covering each other competing for sunlight would be a good gauge.