Gardening Basics: Soil, Seeds, Water and Fertilizers


Gardens entail a lot of care with regard to soil, seed quality, the correct amount of water and types of fertilizers. Gharpedia shares some cues in these segments.

Do you want your garden to be ‘Owner’s Pride, then, simply selecting saplings of vivid flowers and organic herbs from the nursery and planking them into the soil will not suffice, my friend! You’ll need to put in some extra effort and keep an eagle’s eye on the quality of the soil, seeds and fertilizer that go into the rearing of your plants, alongside the amount of water you make them drink.

Through this blog, we bring some useful pointers on gardening basics, how to prepare soil for garden and how to prepare garden soil in this regard for budding gardeners.



Soil is a mixture of organic material, some small minerals and rock particles. It plays a vital role in the way plants grow because of its relationship to the roots. The roots gather moisture and fertility and use soil as a storehouse for food elements and water. Roots also make use of soil to anchor plants and hold them in place. Loam is the ideal soil for garden which is best for most of the plants. The bottom line is – the healthier the soil, the healthier your garden.

Did you know that the soil of a famous French vineyard is so prized that the vineyard workers need to scrape it off their shoes before they leave work each night!

Here are some ways with which you may be able to improve the quality of your soil and make it shoe scraping good.

Testing your Soil’s pH

The pH level tells you whether the soil is acidic or alkaline in nature.  Many plants need acidic soil to thrive. Some types of acid-loving plants and bushes are roses, azaleas, gardenias, rhododendrons, English holly and camellias. Other plants need alkaline soil to thrive. The best ph for garden soil lies in the range of 6 to 7 since most plants thrive in this range. Some alkaline-loving plants and bushes are lilacs, mimosas, bougainvillea, common garden petunias and bird of paradise flowers.

To learn about your garden soil ph, perform one or both of these simple tests and take the results into consideration when planning your garden –

  • Take one tablespoon of wet garden soil and sprinkle a pinch of baking soda on it. If it fizzes, gurgles or effervesces, the soil is acidic and its pH is under 5. To raise the pH level add lime.
  • If nothing happened, test one tablespoon of wet garden soil with half teaspoon of distilled white vinegar. If there’s fizzing, gurgling or effervescing, then the soil is alkaline. The more excited the fizzing the higher the soil’s pH level. To lower the soil pH, add sulphur.

Supplementing your Soil

Supplementing your Soil

Some gardeners will not sow their crops until they’ve enriched the soil with Epsom salt. Apparently, it helps grow stalks stronger, leaves greener and blossoms more substantially. It also makes plants less vulnerable to disease. Sprinkle about one cup of Epsom salt over every 100 square feet (10’X10’ patch) of the garden. Of course, use a smaller amount if your garden is smaller.



The word ‘magic’ aptly describes a seed. Seeds find ways to germinate in some way or the other. For example, gravity causes heavy seeds to simply fall off the plant and land on the soil. Very fine seeds get blown away by the wind. Some seeds are covered with hooks that catch on the fur of animals passing by and are eventually rubbed off on the ground. Some pods burst and toss their seeds out over a wide area. And then of course there are gardeners and farmers who lovingly plant seeds and nurture them.

Here are some suggestions to make planting those seeds a more fruitful mission –

Dump the Clump

Seeds have a tendency to clump together and hence planting them randomly is not a good way. Prevent them from clumping by mixing the seeds with sand (bags are available at nurseries, pet shops and most hardware stores). Make sure the sand is moist.

Put the clump-free mixture of seeds and sand (four parts sand to each part seeds) in a large salt shaker and sprinkle it over the soil. The even distribution of seeds will produce plants that grow better and stronger.

Storing Leftover Seeds

Storing Leftover Seeds

The next time you finish a jar of vitamins, keep that little moisture-absorbing silica gel packet that came in it. They are good to use while storing seeds.

Put any leftover seeds in a jar along with the silica gel, close it tightly and keep it refrigerated until next year. It’s best to keep the jar in the fridge, which is a cool and bug-free environment. Most seeds will stay viable for two to three years.

Or you can store leftover seeds in empty, air-tight, light-free 35mm film canisters.

Just be sure to label the jar clearly, so you know which seeds have been placed in the jars.

Caring for Seedlings

Caring for Seedlings

If you want to know how to care for seedlings and how to water seedlings, here is it. When you start seedlings, it is always better to opt for plastic pots over the clay pots because the plastic pots have a better ability to retain moisture. You do not need to go out and buy them. Recycle empty (and clean) margarine tubs, cherry-tomato or berry containers, or nursery cell packs. For that matter, any wide, flat plastic container will do. The best way to water seedlings is through spray bottle.

Gently brush your hand over seedlings several times a day to get them used to air movement, which will help them grow strong and hardy. Sounds a little far-fetched? Tell that to the commercial growers who do this in their own greenhouses.


Watering Plants

Water, which makes up approximately 90 per cent of most plants, is used to carry nutrients from the roots to all parts of the plant. Water also provides elements used in making plant food.

Watering incorrectly is the number one killer of plants. Even though there are no hard-and-fast rules for correct watering, a lot depends on air temperature, soil conditions, the types of plants and their stages of development – these suggestions may help you get it right.

Watering your Lawn or Garden

Watering your Garden

Do your plants and lawn a big favour and water them early in the morning. That way the moisture is absorbed before the hot afternoon sun has a chance to evaporate it. As for watering at night … don’t do it! Leaving leaves and grass wet overnight makes them vulnerable to fungal diseases.

Watering often, but a little at a time, can weaken plants or grassroots and cause them to grow upward instead of downward. A better idea is to water more thoroughly and less frequently, as evenly as possible, and never faster than the soil can absorb.

The grass will tell you when it’s thirsty by starting to wilt. Look for a change in colour – from bright green to a drab blue-green.

If you do not trust your eye for colour then ignore the ‘keep off’ sign and step on the grass. If the imprint of your foot stays in the grass longer than a few seconds, get out the hose and start watering.

It’s also a good idea to water the grass thoroughly after fertilizing so that the nourishment gets down to the roots – instead of sticking to the blades of the lawn mower.



Just like their human friends, plants also require vitamins and minerals. Fertilizer is plant food that helps plants and lawns meet their nutritional needs. Nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are the three most needed nutrients, which are referred to as macronutrients. There are other nutrients that plants need in small amounts, and they are referred to as micronutrients.

Fertilizing the garden is really very important as you need to precisely know when to how much fertilizer to use and when to fertilize garden. So, most gardeners use a complete fertilizer with twice the quantity as much phosphorus as nitrogen or potassium which is considered as the best fertilizer for garden. The best time to fertilize plants to when they begin to grow actively.

If you want to know how to fertilize your lawns, here we have the perfect guide to fertilizing your lawns.

Here are ways to help feed your plants all the nutrients they need –

Using Natural Fertilizers

Natural Fertilizers

Pelletized horse feed (available at farm supply stores or wherever horse care products are sold) is an inexpensive organic fertilizer.

The pellets of crushed grains and molasses will supply your plants with much-needed NPK – the chemical symbols for nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Lightly sprinkle the pellets over the soil, or put some in your planting holes.

Important Pointers

  • In order to weed out any seeds that may be infertile, fill a bowl with tepid water and empty the seeds into it. The fertile seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl, while the duds will float. Just strain them out and discard the useless seeds.
  • You can create your own seed tape in the following way – You will need seeds, waxed paper, transparent tape and a landscaping plan. Once you decide which seeds are going to go where then you’re ready to prepare seed tapes that will help carry out your landscaping version. On a piece of waxed paper, put the seeds in a straight line that’s as wide as the tape you’re going to use. Then place the sticky side of the tape over the seeds, picking them up off the waxed paper. After finishing the first row, put it aside and continue the process until all the seeds are on lengths of tape that you can then arrange to the way you want them planted. Then plant them – tape and all!
  • Water plants, shrubs and flowers around the base – not over the leaves. Wet leaves can get burned by strong sunlight.
  • Do not let fertilizer come into direct contact with seeds or plants. Feed the soil around the plant, not the plant itself.

Here’s hoping that you will implement the above hacks and successfully strengthen the soil, fertilizer the plants in the right way and transform your garden into the proverbial Garden of Eden!

And before you take a leave, here we have some landscape tips and garden design ideas for you:

Best Landscaping Ideas To Give Your Front Yard A Makeover
5 Garden Design Ideas to Upgrade Your Outside Space
How to Get Your Garden Into Good Shape?
How to Make Your Own Terrace Garden – Step-By-Step Guide!

And lastly, we also have expert tips to spruce up your garden.

How To Spruce Up Your Garden This Summer? | Learn By Our Expert’s Tips!
How to Plan Garden of your Homes for All Season?

Author Bio

Huta Raval – An English Literature and Journalism Topper, Huta Raval has graduated from the L D Arts College, Ahmedabad. Post serving for 23 years in the NBFC and Public Library Sectors her desire for ‘writing the unwritten’ brought her to the creative field of content writing. Her clientele comprises of NGOs, Blogging Platforms, Newspapers, Academic Institutions, et al.

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