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Tips for the Sophomore Gardener

Updated: Apr 15

For many of us, 2020 was the year that we got to work in our gardens. Keep up the trend in 2021 as you enter your sophomore year in gardening. Here are some tips for your second year so you can have a lush and thriving outdoor space.

Make a Plan

Now that you’ve set down roots in your first year of gardening, go into your second one with a plan. If you’re planning on starting seedlings, you should keep track of seed times and frost dates on your calendar. When it comes to selecting your plants for your second year of gardening, you should have a better idea of what will thrive in your garden. You may have selected a few plants in the past that were too ambitious or just not right for your light and soil conditions. You’re equipped with some new knowledge, so let it guide you toward flowers, vegetables, and herbs that are more likely to be successful in your care. As you learn more gardening tips, keep track of them in a dedicated notebook so you can look over them for years to come.


Learn from Your Mistakes

Along with making a plan for your second year of gardening, look back on your first year and where it may have all gone wrong, or just needs a bit of improvement. Did you let weeds get out of hand? Did you plant something that just didn’t thrive? Learn from last year’s mistakes and try a different approach. Before getting your hands dirty again this year, brush up on some planting tips. Every sophomore gardener needs to review their notes before taking their growing season test!


Weed Early

When it comes to gardening in your second year, you likely know that one of your greatest enemies is uncontrolled weeds. One great sophomore gardening tip is to start weeding early. You will never fully defeat weeds, but staying on top of them will save you time and headaches. Once you’ve hauled up as much as you can early in the growing season, schedule in about 30 minutes of weeding twice a week. Another weeding tip: put down a layer of mulch around the base of your plants. It will help prevent invasive weeds from choking out your flowers and can help with water regulation.


Work on Your Compost

Your second year of gardening is the time to start composting, and your plants will thank you! Start collecting compost-friendly organic materials from your home and kitchen. Dig into some compost tips to help you get started. If you already have a compost, keep it thriving by monitoring it for proper temperature and efficiency. Adding compost to your plants will make a huge difference, and you’ll look like a gardening graduate in no time.


Attract Pollinators and Wildlife

Bring butterflies, bees, and birds to your yard with the addition of planting pollinator-friendly plants and setting up some wildlife-friendly additions to your garden. Choose a bird feeder that will fit your outdoor space and attract the birds you are hoping to spot. Pollinators are attracted to native plant species that grow naturally in Allentown, so scrap the fancy imported plants and nurture the natural. You should also provide a fresh water supply for wildlife and pollinators and avoid harsh chemical treatments in your garden and yard.


Protect Your Garden

While you may want to attract pollinators and beautiful songbirds, you may not want to attract predators and pests that will consume or destroy your hard work. In your second year of gardening, invest in fencing to keep rabbits and other veggie-loving animals out. You’ll also want to get proactive with any pest or grub control. Know the signs of garden invaders and all the tips and tricks to keep them at bay.


Creative Companion Planting

Companion planting is grouping complementary plants together in containers or the garden. Companion plants won’t compete for nutrients, so they can live together in harmony. One tip for this type of gardening is to plant flowers and herbs that have natural pest-repellent abilities next to vulnerable plants like vegetables. A few companion planting suggestions are: tomatoes and basil, thyme and strawberries, and beans and corn.


If you’re looking for more tips for your second year of gardening in Allentown, come visit us! Let us help you have your best gardening season yet.