50 Gardening Tips And Tricks for the Homesteader

Dreaming of a lush garden, filled with tasty fruits, herbs and vegetables? Let me share with you 50 gardening tips and tricks that’ll turn you into a gardening wizard in no time. Grab your gloves, and let’s get digging!

My gardening tips grew these healthy bell pepper plants.
Photo by DIY Homesteading 101, Alina Bradford
  1. Start Small: If you’re a beginner, start with a small garden. Choose easy-to-grow plants like tomatoes, lettuce and herbs. You’ll learn basic gardening tips without feeling overwhelmed.
  2. Know Your Zone: Understanding your gardening zone helps you pick the right plants. It’s all about knowing your climate. Check out the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map to find your zone.
  3. Choose the Right Soil: Good soil is the foundation of a healthy garden. Mix compost with your existing soil to add nutrients. Test the pH and adjust it as needed.
  4. Plan Ahead: Draw a garden plan. Decide where to place your plants, considering sunlight, drainage and growth patterns.
  5. Water Wisely: Plants need water, but not too much! Water deeply and less often to encourage deep roots. Use a soaker hose to minimize waste.
  6. Invest in Quality Tools: High-quality gardening tools last longer and make your job easier. Trust me; it’s worth the investment.
  7. Use Mulch: Mulching keeps the soil moist and prevents weeds. Use straw, wood chips or even newspapers or broken-down cardboard boxes. I like to reuse my Amazon shipping boxes in my garden.
  8. Plant Native Species: They adapt better to your environment, require less water and attract local wildlife.
  9. Try Companion Planting: Some plants, like tomatoes and basil, grow better together. Look up companion planting guides to pair your plants.
  10. Learn to Prune: Proper pruning promotes growth. Cut back dead or diseased branches and shape your plants to allow airflow.
  11. Compost Your Waste: Create a compost pile with kitchen scraps and yard waste. It’ll provide free, nutrient-rich soil.
  12. Watch for Pests: Keep an eye on your plants for signs of pests. Use natural remedies like neem oil or insecticidal soap when needed. Check out more natural pest remedies in our guide to organic gardening.
  13. Rotate Your Crops: This helps prevent soil diseases and pest infestations. Change where you plant crops each year.
  14. Grow Perennials: Perennials come back year after year. Plant them once, and enjoy the harvest for years to come.
  15. Harvest at the Right Time: Picking fruits and vegetables at the peak of ripeness ensures the best flavor.
  16. Try Vertical Gardening: If space is limited, grow upwards! Use trellises and vertical planters.
  17. Use Rain Barrels: Collect rainwater to use in your garden. It’s eco-friendly and can save you money. Here’s some pros and cons of rain barrels.
  18. Create Garden Paths: Make pathways to prevent compacting soil. It helps with water absorption and root growth.
  19. Join a Gardening Community: Connect with fellow gardeners for support, seed swaps, and advice.
  20. Educate Yourself: Read books, attend workshops, or watch YouTube videos. Continuous learning makes you a better gardener.
  21. Enjoy the Process: Gardening is hard work, but don’t forget to enjoy it. Take time to smell the roses, literally!
  22. Choose the Right Containers: If you’re container gardening, select the right size and material for each plant.
  23. Grow What You Love: Plant what you and your family enjoy eating. You’ll be more motivated to tend to your garden.
  24. Label Your Plants: Trust me, you might forget what’s what! I make markers by cutting plastic containers (like whipped cream and sour cream containers) into strips and writing the plant’s name on the white side of the strip with a marker. Then I poke it into the ground.
  25. Protect Your Plants in Winter: Use frost covers (old bedsheets and blankets work in a pinch!) or move container plants indoors.
  26. Use Succession Planting: Keep your garden producing by planting new crops as others are harvested.
  27. Create a Wildlife-Friendly Garden: Encourage birds and bees to visit by planting flowers and providing water sources.
  28. Install a Drip Irrigation System: This system waters your plants slowly and consistently, saving water and effort. It makes watering a no-brainer for forgetful people like me.
  29. Choose Disease-Resistant Varieties: Look for plants that are bred to resist common diseases in your area.
  30. Grow Your Seeds: Starting from seeds is a lot cheaper, and you get to take care of your plant from day one.
  31. Use Raised Beds: Raised beds offer better drainage and can make planting and weeding easier. No more kneeling on the ground to take care of your plants, which I love.
  32. Experiment and Learn: Don’t be afraid to try new things. Even failures provide learning opportunities. Trust me. I kill plants all the time, but I have a lot of other plants that thrive.
  33. Use a Garden Journal: Keep track of what works and what doesn’t.
  34. Go Organic: Avoid synthetic pesticides and fertilizers and use natural deterrent techniques. Your garden (and the planet) will thank you.
  35. Provide Support for Climbing Plants: Trellises and stakes help your plants grow tall and strong.
  36. Test Your Soil Regularly: Keep an eye on nutrient levels and make adjustments as needed.
  37. Use Old Coffee Grounds: They add nitrogen to your soil. Just mix them into your compost or directly into the soil.
  38. Plant a Cover Crop in the Off-Season: They enrich the soil and prevent erosion. Clover or legumes are great cover crops.
  39. Keep Your Tools Clean: Regular maintenance prolongs the life of your tools and prevents the spread of disease.
  40. Consider the Sun: Observe where the sun shines in your garden and plant accordingly.
  41. Grow Herbs Indoors: Fresh herbs all year round? Yes, please! I bought some grow light bulbs and stuck them in regular lamps I had around the house for extra light.
  42. Use Eggshells for Calcium: Crush them in your blender and mix with your soil.
  43. Invest in Good Garden Gloves: Protect your hands. I ignored this advice and once sliced of two big pieces of skin when pulling weeds. That grass gave me what amounted to paper cuts on steroids. The blades sliced right through my skin.
  44. Use Leftover Tea Bags: They release nutrients into the soil. I like to pop open used tea bags and sprinkle them around the base of my plants.
  45. Learn Your Weeds: Some weeds can actually be beneficial. Know what to pull and what to leave. Plus, you can eat a lot of weeds. Use a foraging app (I use Picture This Plant Identifier) to identify weeds, and then I google to see if they are edible.
  46. Try a Greenhouse: Extend your growing season with a small greenhouse or cold frame. I’ve made mini greenhouses out of takeout containers that have a clear plastic top and clear plastic cups.
  47. Use a Wheelbarrow: Save your back and make transporting soil and plants easier. I have a Gorilla dump wagon. It’s like the little red wagon you had as a kid, except with massive wheels and a dumping mechanism.
  48. Consider Wind: Protect delicate plants from strong winds with windbreaks or proper placement.
  49. Add a Water Feature: It’s not just beautiful; it can help with irrigation and attract beneficial insects.
  50. Take Breaks: Gardening is a marathon, not a sprint. Rest, hydrate and enjoy your beautiful creation while you read about more vegetable gardening tips and tricks.

There you have it! With these 50 gardening tips and tricks, you’ll be well on your way to a thriving garden. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned green thumb, these insights are bound to take your gardening game to the next level. Happy gardening, friend!