How to manage your garden’s love life.

Erin Viney of The VRI in Traralgon shares some wisdom on stimulating plant-based love in your garden.

Stage 1—Self-reflection.

Before you make any large commitment, such as starting a relationship or putting a plant in the ground, it’s important to know who you are and what you need.

If you’re looking for something long-term, you may want to consider perennial plants that live for several years. But if you’re considering casual planting or a short fling, then focus on annual plants that only live for a season. Some plants are biennial ( #equality), meaning they take two years to complete their life cycle.

Next, consider your preferences. Are you looking for eye candy? Then, please consider planting flowers: edible varieties include nasturtiums, violas, and French marigolds. If you’re looking to spice up your life, you might consider perennial herbs, such as rosemary, sage or oregano, or annuals like basil, dill or parsley. If you want a relationship that nourishes you, go for vegetables: tomato, pumpkin, lettuce and zucchini are all great options.

Stage 2—Are the conditions right to begin this relationship?

Is the time right to jump into (a garden) bed with someone new? Have you considered the time of year, the weather, the phases of the moon? (No joke! The moon cycle really does affect plant growth, but we’ll leave that to the more experienced gardeners to explore.) All the partner suggestions provided in Stage 1 are perfect for planting in spring.

You should also think about where you are in life, literally. Consider the climate of your region. Gippsland’s climate is temperate, ranging from mild to cool, so don’t expect tropical plants to thrive.

Soil type is another important factor; if your garden tends towards clay or sandy soil, you may need to focus on plants that prefer this environment, or invest in some soil from a gardening centre. If you’re serious about maximising your garden’s potential, you may even wish to buy a kit to test your soil’s pH level.

Finally, relationships require room to grow. Violas, mint and thyme are all ground covers and need to be carefully kept in check or given the space to roam free (so don’t be too clingy).

Pumpkins need around four feet of space to produce, and tomatoes need breathing space of about two feet or they’re vulnerable to disease. Smaller plants require less space and can be planted around six inches (15 cm) apart. When planting seeds, place them in the soil at twice the depth of the seeds’ required width.

Stage 3—Taking them to bed.

Whether you’re growing from seed or purchasing an existing plant, at some point that baby needs to go in the ground. If you’ve purchased a plant from a nursery or raised it from seed in a controlled environment, the plant may give up when faced with the harsh realities of life or an icy spring frost. To harden them off, take things slow, leave them outside for a few hours a day to get a glimpse of what awaits.

When finally bedding the plant, the most important thing is to ensure they don’t expose themselves; try to keep as much soil around the roots as you can. If the roots are exposed to the air, the plant will wilt and may die.

Once the planting is all over, remember to hydrate! Those roots will be thirsty, so make sure you water directly after planting.

Stage 4—Nourishing your relationship.

Just like any relationship, your plants need time and attention. Visit them regularly, providing water and fertiliser, and keep an eye out for pesky hangers-on, such as slugs, snails, aphids and caterpillars.

Pay attention to the needs of your plant. If it’s looking yellow or sickly, then don’t be afraid to ask others for advice! Communication is the most important key to a successful relationship. With the right advice and tender care, your plant will flourish and love can bloom!

If you need any relationship advice, drop by The VRI during opening hours and speak to our friendly love gurus. Good luck with your propadating, and remember, if things don’t work out, there are plenty more seeds in the soil.

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