Garden Project Lifecycle: Maintenance Phase

Garden Maintenance Overview

The maintenance phase of any garden project is, perhaps, the most challenging. In software engineering, developers support the software and client by fixing any errors in the software. Similarly, with garden maintenance, our goal is to keep your plants alive, keep your landscape features in working order, and fix any issues that might pop-up. We may encounter insects, diseases, and weather-related stressors. However, if we stay organized, maintenance may not be so bad. We might need to organize activities into seasonal maintenance tasks (like fertilizing), weekly maintenance tasks (like spraying fungicides), and/or daily maintenance tasks (like watering plants).

Common Garden Maintenance Activities

For gardening, “bugs” might include insects or diseases. Make sure you consider which of the following activities are relevant for your project. You may need to research what may work best for your individual situation and garden.

  • Pruning & trimming. Regularly trimming and pruning trees, shrubs, and hedges to maintain their shape, promote healthy growth, and control their size. This includes removing dead or diseased branches and shaping plants as needed.
  • Weeding. Removing weeds from flower beds, lawns, and other areas to prevent them from competing with desired plants for nutrients, water, and sunlight. This can be done manually or using appropriate tools like a hoe or weed puller.
  • Watering. Ensuring that plants receive adequate water, especially during dry periods. This involves monitoring soil moisture levels, using watering cans, hoses, or irrigation systems, and adjusting watering frequency and duration based on the needs of different plants.
  • Mulching. Applying a layer of mulch around plants to help retain moisture, suppress weed growth, and regulate soil temperature. Mulch can be made of materials like wood chips, straw, or compost.
  • Fertilizing. Providing nutrients to plants by applying fertilizers. This can be done using organic or synthetic fertilizers, following manufacturer instructions and considering the specific needs of different plants.
  • Soil cultivation. Loosening compacted soil, improving drainage, and promoting root growth by activities like tilling, raking, or adding organic matter such as compost or peat moss to the soil.
  • Pest and disease control. Monitoring plants for signs of pests or diseases and taking appropriate measures to control or prevent their spread. This may include using organic pest control methods, applying pesticides, or introducing beneficial insects.
  • Deadheading and flowerbed maintenance. Removing spent flowers (deadheading) to encourage continuous blooming and tidying up flowerbeds by removing faded or damaged plants, leaves, or debris.
  • Equipment maintenance. Regularly cleaning and maintaining gardening tools and equipment, such as sharpening blades, oiling machinery, or repairing damaged parts. This helps ensure their longevity and optimal performance.

Patching and Updating Garden Features

In software engineering, developers must fix logic errors by releasing patches with the updated software code to fix the errors in the software. Similarly, for gardening, patching and updates might involve replanting a plant that didn’t quite make it through a drought, or replacing annuals each year in a pollinator garden.

Maintaining Documentation

To accurately chronicle your garden project, be sure to continue to take notes as a journaling activity. For example, maintain a garden calendar. Mark the dates on which you spray insecticides or fungicides; mark the dates you fertilize everything; mark the dates your tomatoes start ripening; mark the date you first spotted squash vine borers in your vegetable garden; etc. All of these notes will help you as you reflect on what worked, what didn’t work, and how to improve the effectiveness and success of your next garden project!

Reflecting on What Worked

At the end of the growing season (and before flipping through those seed catalogs for the upcoming year) review your documentation for the prior season. Think about what worked and what didn’t work. Maybe you waited until diseases were already present in the garden, so you want to begin preventative fungicide treatments earlier next growing season. Similarly, if you planted two varieties of salvia in your garden, perhaps you observed a difference in the performance or disease-resistance of each variety. Not everything will be as successful as what you see on YouTube or TV. The reflection activity is an essential part of garden maintenance and continuously improving your gardening skills through agile gardening.

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