Fashionably M.French: 5 Patio Garden Essentials

Saturday, August 8, 2015

5 Patio Garden Essentials

Meet my humble little garden. It resides inside three planter boxes on my cozy patio and consists of tomato plants, basil, African marigolds, ornamental peppers, zucchini, and rosemary. This is my second attempt at gardening and it has been much more fruitful. Last year wasn't terrible, just nothing to write home about. With four tomato harvests of about thirty to forty snacking tomatoes each, handfuls of basil, and all the rosemary I could ever want for cooking, you could say that my previously murky brown thumb has turned a nice shade of green. 

Creating a lovely patio garden of your own isn't always easy. It takes more time and planning than most people realize to get the results you see on Instagram and Pinterest (#homegrown, anyone?). I am by no means an expert, but I would like to share a few things I have learned along the way. A garden is only as good as the gardener. And a gardener needs the right tools to get themselves started! 

I have compiled a list of five essentials for building a strong and healthy patio garden. You might be asking yourself if some of these essentials are absolutely necessary for what you have planned. There is only one way to find out, which leads me into my number one essential...

1. Research, Research, Research

This has to be the most important part of growing your own garden. If you just go buy a bunch of plants that sound and look good, you will more than likely end up with one of two things- an overgrown mess that you won't enjoy or the more likely option of a patio full of wilted and dying plants. Make a list of the plants that you think you might want to grow and then do your research. Find out if any of the plants on your list would make good companion plants- or alternately, if they would not do well sitting in the same pot. Research your region to decide what would grow well in your climate. Research preferred soils, water requirements, etc. 

The internet is a good resource, as is your local library, but remember that there are experts- real people - who have made it their job to know all of this information. Utilize your local nursery or garden center! There will be plenty of staff who will not only be able to help you, but most of the time they are excited to help you. Small Plug- if you are in the Denver area, go to Tagawa Gardens. They are absolutely wonderful- they will walk around with you and help you plan your garden, give you tips and tricks,  and they even have weekly classes (most of which are free). And if you sign up for their Purr-ferred members program (free) then you get 20% off a full-priced item. Oh and you can find August's coupon here.Tagawa has become my little happy place and I love it. Gushing over. 

Once you have your game plan solidified, you can get on to the really fun bits! 

2. Basic Tools

Because we are talking patio gardens, that means that everything is on a smaller scale. There is no need for big heavy spade or even a garden hose for that matter. All you need are a few simple, compact tools that will help you properly take care of your plants. Look for a set, like the one pictured above, that includes a hand trowel, a small rake (sometimes called a cultivator, from what I've found), and a small hoe. You might also want a pair of gloves for any not-so-soft plants or plants that react to the oils on our fingers as well as a pair of sheers. For added comfort, you can find knee pads or a kneeling mat at your local garden center. And don't forget a hat for sun protection- a few minutes a day in the bright sun can do its damage.

One of the most important tools is a good watering can. You might be saying to yourself, "Oh, I'll just use a cup or a pitcher. Water is water, right?" Unfortunately, no. Using a watering can is much better for your plants. If you use a watering can, you will not only avoid drowning your garden but you will also be sparing them the beating of a waterfall coming out of your pitcher. Watering cans are inexpensive and last a while- get one for the plants.

If you aren't sure where to look for these tools, you can head over to my shop where I have found some great options. I threw in a few cheap options and a few that are a little nicer and will last longer.

3. Age Old Bloom

Age Old Bloom is a little powerhouse, as is its sibling below. This is a natural fertilizer that is high is phosphorus- which will aid flower and fruit production as well as develop a stronger root system. According to the product description, it encourages flower and bud formation, increased fruit set and will help overcome stress. I have no reason to displace these claims. This product has been great! Not only does it follow through on the claims, but it lasts forever. It is a concentrated formula that you can add to water and can even use as a treatment.

One thing to bear in mind is that you can over-fertilize your garden. If you use too much fertilizer or the wrong fertilizer, you can essentially burn out your garden. This goes back to the number one essential, research, research, research.

4. Age Old Grow

 As I said, this little guy doesn't disappoint either. This is a natural based fertilizer that is high in nitrogen- which aids in healthy plant growth above the ground. According to Age Old Organics, Age Old Grow encourages early growth, greater flowering and better fruit set for indoor and outdoor plants. They recommend you use Age Old Grow on your plants during the vegetative stage.

This is also a concentrated formula to be used with water. If you plan on using both Age Old Grow and Age Old Bloom, stagger their use and follow the instructions on each bottle. Remember that less is more- you don't want to over do it.

5. Stakes and Poles

Now that you've nurtured your little loves, it's time to give them a little support. Even the strongest plants can be susceptible to wind and even a day without water can have a drastic effect on a garden in a planter box or pot. Coming home to find your tall and proud tomato plant snapped in half is devastating. Trust me.

That's where stakes and poles come in. You can use either one, it depends on preference. If you use poles, be sure to tie the twine securely and in a place where it won't hinder plant growth. I prefer to use these little metal stakes with open hoops to support my tall plants. They are easy to move to different areas and loosely hug the stalk of the plant to help keep it upright. These are small and often forgotten but are an important essential to have on hand.

I would love for this to be a very interactive post- as I said before, I am no expert. Please do comment down below with any tips and tricks you may have for a successful patio garden. There is very little that is more informative than someone else's experiences. If you decide to use these essentials in your own patio garden then take a picture and tag me on social media. If you are looking for more patio garden inspiration, check out #homegrown #patiogarden and even my own Instagram for beautiful mouth-watering snaps.

Also, don't forget to head on over to my shop to find great patio garden essentials!

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