In this guide, I will be covering the basics of plant care, so hopefully, you can stop killing and start growing your plants. Don’t worry, everybody kills plants to start with!
As a beginner gardener, I truly had zero knowledge regarding the needs of plants. I remember one hot summer, asking a neighbour why my fruit trees seemed to be dying while hers looked glorious and laden with fruit. I also remember being mortified when she looked at me quizzically and asked if I’d been watering them? Oops! Of course, I hadn’t, and as soon as she asked, I realised how silly I had been. But I guess I had just thought of all trees as having the same needs. And trees in the bush didn’t get any extra water apart from what fell from the sky! Did they?
However low the bar was with me and my gardening, I learnt and grew as my plants did.
To save you some of the heartache, failures and embarrassment I went through I have put together a few elementary points to follow to make successes more likely in your garden!
How to Understand What Your Plants Need
In a lot of ways, plants and animals aren’t that different in how they stay alive. They require a source of energy, a source of hydration, and their own set of unique vitamins, minerals, and compounds to grow and flourish effectively. However, also like animals, you can start to run into problems if you don’t know quite the right balance of each for your plants. With all that said, there are quite a few common elements of plant care that will allow you to keep most plants healthy.
At their most basic, plants need light, water, food and something to grow in! That equates to sunshine, rain or watering, a nice Australian organic fertiliser like Food2Soil, compost or nutrients from decomposing mulch, worm poop, and a growing medium like soil or potting mix.
All plants will need varying degrees of these four things but if you do a bit of research you can easily find out the information you need to get started and fill in the gaps from there.
Parsley Prep: Let’s Do A Little Test Run!
If, for example, someone gives me parsley, “Ick” I hear you say, ‘no-one eats parsley!’ I quite agree, but for argument’s sake let’s pretend they do, and it’s a lovely gift that I really want to keep alive. It maysound like a fanciful farce, but bare with us, because parsley production or cultivation is an excellent example of plant care in action.
What I now need to do is pretty basic, honestly, do an internet search and within two seconds you’ll have the info you need to keep said parsley alive and well. Keeping in mind the four tips for plant care; light, water, food and something to grow in, a quick look at ABC Gardening reveals that:
’Parsley prefers to grow in cool moist soil in a lightly shaded position. Water well or the foliage may become stringy and bitter. Cutting the foliage promotes fresh growth. Plants last for 2 years before needing to be replaced, but they may also self-seed. Seeds can be soaked in warm water before planting to promote germination. Raise from seed sown in spring after the risk of frost has passed, or autumn in frost-free areas.’
So, now we know that Parsley has moderate light and water requirements. Make sure your parsley has a good amount of light, preferably some shade throughout the day and moist soil, which means that you need to have soil that holds moisture. Finally, keep the water levels up in the hotter weather.
Research further to find out about FOOD requirements. Simply search ‘Parsley fertiliser’ and you will find that parsley does indeed like a feed. This is also a good time to remind those of you getting into plant care for the first time that not all plant products are the same quality. There’s a lot that goes into creating plant fertilisers, meaning that there’s hundreds of brands on the market with varying levels of quality, as well as various different intended uses. So, read reviews, do some research, and find the right plant products for your plant’s specific needs.
Know When to Feed Them
Here’s a handy hint! In general, if a plant is going to be producing fruit, vegetables, flowers or lots of foliage it is going to need to be fed once a year at an absolute minimum to grow well.
Therefore, you can surmise that your parsley IS going to need food. Given that parsley is not a huge producer you can also surmise that it is not going to need lots of food, a moderate amount will do. In saying that, I have seen monster parsley that obviously had responded well to bulk amounts of fertiliser. So, feel free to experiment within healthy parameters, if you’re curious about certail elements and ideal conditions for your plants.
A good Australian organic fertiliser like Food2Soil that contains balanced amounts of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, with the added benefits of good bacteria and fungi is an excellent choice. This is because, not only does it feed the plants directly with the nutrients needed, it feeds the soil as well, which in turn feeds the plant which is necessary to sustain continued growth and health.
When you keep the plant healthy by ensuring that it gets the right amount of light, water, soil and food it will be so much more able to fight off pests and diseases.
So, to re-cap, understand your plants’ individual needs, do a little bit of research and be consistent with your plant care, feed them the best possible fertiliser to give them the best start and watch them thrive. Plant care can be exceedingly simple or highly complex depending on your goals, so find plants you feel comfortable taking care of and do your research to see what the best products and care regimen will be for that specific species.