For the Best Gardeners in the Cardiff Area

   Feb 06

Your Questions About Gardening

Helen asks…

How should i start my garden?

Im 13 and starting to make a garden. the garden is going ti b around a tree. i just mowed it and now what. i never made my own garden.
how do i start?

GardenersCardiff answers:

Hey Lydiabun123,

If you like the tree, be sure not to cut its roots by putting your garden too close to it’s base. Your garden should be outside the drip line of the tree. Otherwise, you will hurt the tree (sorry, not trying to be harsh, just informative).

Once you have your garden area marked – turn over the soil to 24″ deep, it should be loose enough that your shovel will easily be thrust into the soil. Remove all the weeds, lawn, and roots ( hope not your tree roots). You should add compost to that soil and mix it up well. Now is when you get creative. Do you want raised beds? Or Rows?, Containers? Boarders? What plants to you want to grow? Draw out your area to scale on paper, then mark off what will go where. Now you have a plan, get the plants. If you plan to use seed, you still have time this year, but have missed the spring planting season. You should try Summer Squash or Zucchini – they are really easy and will give you a sense of accomplishment. Try some Tomatoes and stake them up (or use cages). In my past, we cut Maple branches for the stakes – low cost and they work. Carrots are easy, try them.

If seeds or plants, go to your local garden store and stare at the plants and seeds. Read the labels, pick enough to fill your garden space, and follow the planting instructions. Be sure to water enough, but not to drown the plants. A good rule about watering seed rows or raised beds is to water like it is raining, and move the hose away. See the shiny wet disappear? When it takes 3 to 5 seconds, you have watered enough.

For your mature plants, water at the roots, and not at night. Early in the day is best. Use some simple fertilizer, like 10-10-10 Miracle Grow – you dilute in water, and use a watering can to put around the roots of the plants. Follow the instructions. Come back here and ask more questions too. We want you to be successful and enjoy your new hobby.

Laura asks…

Why do trees and shrubs tend to cluster in private gardens?

I made a map showing the location of Fatsia Japonica near to my home. I covered 5000 houses and found 13 Fatsia plants. The strange thing is they all tended to be in streets near to each other and one area of 3000 houses only had one plant. Why do they cluster like this as each plant was planted by a different person.

GardenersCardiff answers:

Ppl tend to use the same plants in their areas because if the plants r growing successfully in someones elses garden then the odds r that specific plants will grow in your own as good. Also, its easy to take a sly grab at plants as u walk past them to get a piece of the plant & propagate yourself.

Mark asks…

Looking for best companion planting chart or personal experience companion planing tips.?

I am planning my garden for next year. Yes already. I would like to use companion planting method for better yields and to reduce harmful insects. I have seen many websites, but am looking for a gardener who uses companion planting each year what website they recommend or tips from what they know works. Thanks, i appreciate your time and help.

GardenersCardiff answers:

Good afternoon Frank Ford,

I hope you had a great day. It is great to see you are into companion gardening. Companion gardening is important but it is not number one when it comes to being a great backyard gardener. You should learn a combination of other benefits to help companion gardening. I hope my report explains and answers your question. If I may:

Your soil’s pH is the big difference between the average gardener and the best. All the fertilizers, hard work, watering, and care will not help if your soil’s pH level is not correct. Each plant or tree requires a different pH level for maximum yields, less insects, and fewer diseases. A pH Soil Testing Meter cost $9 at Home Depot. The meters also test the nutrients in your soil. They last for years. They require no electrical plugs or batteries. I hope you do not mind, but I included two (2) of my favorite websites which helps explain and verifies my report to you. You can also order one of their meters.


I have been an organic gardener for years…many years (smile). I do not use any chemicals or pesticides on anything I grow. Between companion growing, proper pH levels, earthworms, crop rotation (very important), proper/correct variety, and a little hard work, my vegetable garden and nine (9) rare fruit trees have fewer insects and high yields.

The first companion crops I learned about as a child was from the old school (Indians), “The Three Sisters”?? I still use “The Three Sisters” today. The website is included below.


If you decide to use “The Three Sisters”, I use a purple green bean. The color purple attracts fewer insects because the insects have a harder time avoiding predators against the purple background. The taste is the same. The color will turn green when the beans hit hot water. Again this means less work for Frank Ford.

Most gardeners plant tomatoes. I always plant the herb basil close to my tomato plants. I do not have trouble with aphids. If you decide to plant tomatoes, try planting some yellow tomatoes. They are beautiful and easy to grow. The color also attracts fewer caterpillars. Yellow tomatoes will make a great conversation piece at your dinner table.

Garlic is the best companion vegetable for almost all flowers, trees, and vegetable plants except asparagus. Garlic is like the super drug or penicillin. Stop trying to invent a new mouse trap. Why not specialize in garlic? I have used it FOR YEARS. The good properties of garlic are too numerous to type. Therefore I have included two great websites below.


There are hundreds of different varieties of garlic. Ninety (90%) percent of the grocery store garlic is grown in China. This garlic exports well but the taste is not good. Most people would not know the difference because they have nothing to compare good garlic. The Gilroy Garlic Festival is the biggest in the world. You may wish to get a link, from websites below, for ordering a bulb for future plantings.


Speaking about varieties in garlic, most gardening outlets do not carry the best varieties of any vegetable seeds. The reason is because major/corporate farmers only grow vegetables which mankind can import/export the best. The quality and taste of these vegetables/fruits are not the best. In fact, some are very bad and used truly for animal feed. But again, the consumer has nothing to compare. I can no longer find the many vegetable seeds in stores. I can only order the seeds or dry them myself. This is happening all over the WORLD. In fact, we now have seed bunkers to try and save many varieties in the plant kingdom which mankind has destroyed or made extinct. Therefore try to research and find the better varieties of vegetable seeds. Your research will be greatly rewarded at the dinner table.

Sometimes overlooked; Frank Ford, I would hire some extra workers. I would spend another $5 and buy a few earthworms at your local sporting goods or fishing shop. Earthworms work day and night. They continuously carry nutrients deep into the soil in order for your plants roots to feed. They are a home gardener’s secret weapon. They also work for minimum wages (smile). Place them around your plants. They will multiply in time.


In closing do not forget about crop rotation, especially tomatoes.


Good luck with your garden for next year. Right now I am researching and thinking about planting a “Peanut Butter Tree”.


You and your family have a beautiful week. Peace, from Los Angeles.

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