Those new to gardening, or trying a new type of gardening, often want to know the tricks of the trade, just as anyone does with a new project or hobby. Certain gardening techniques are widely used but may not be obvious to the neophyte. Some of the basic and useful gardening techniques include germination, mulching, and companion planting.
Some gardening techniques have multiple uses, and germination is one of those. Germination is the earliest stage of development of a seed into a seedling, when the seed “wakes up,” breaks through the seed coat, and begins to grow, putting out roots and leaves. Seeds can be allowed to germinate in the soil they will grow in, but for planting in climates with a short growing season — or just to increase crops — gardeners will often start the seeds indoors a few weeks ahead of planting, which also allows carefully spaced planting of the hardiest specimens. Germination is also used to test older seeds, such as those from last year’s packet, to see if they’re worth planting. The “shelf-life” of a seed varies a fair amount, with corn and parsnip seeds lasting only one to two years, for example, while melon and cucumber seeds may last as long as six years.
Mulching is another of the multi-purpose gardening techniques. Mulch is some kind of protective layer put around growing plants. It is often organic matter, such as straw, hay, leaves, peat, cedar chips, or lawn clippings, but plastic or other material can also be used. Mulch serves to keep the ground moist, prevent the growth of weeds, and regulate the ground temperature. With mulch around the base of a plant, its roots are less likely to freeze in a sudden cold snap.
Companion planting, also called co-planting, is one of the gardening techniques that is really clever. The idea is to use the properties of one plant to help keep insects and other pests away from neighboring plants. This can not only prevent damage to plants and crops, but also limit the need to use chemical pest control. Besides that, one gets some extra flowers or herbs into the bargain. Plants that are recommended for companion planting include marigolds, nasturtiums, petunias, garlic, chives, and basil.