Liepins shares tips for having a successful summer garden


Nikolas Liepins

From 2015: Nikolas Liepins plants vegetables in a garden with his grandfather. “There’s a whole world of interconnectivity between plants,” Liepins said.

Now that the snow has melted, gardeners are breaking out their shovels and getting to work. Gardening can range from a casual hobby to an occupation, and avid gardeners pick up many tips and tricks for how to make the most effective use of their resources.

Nikolas Liepins, a 9th grader who has been around gardens since he could walk, giving him about 11 years of experience, shared some tips for maximizing a garden’s potential.

Don’t buy non-native plants, as they often cannot survive in a different climate than their location of origin. Every plant has certain zones, based on climate, in which it will do well. Minnesota includes climate zones 3 and 4.

One of the biggest things about gardening is maintenance.

— 9th grader Nikolas Liepins

Pay attention to the location of the garden. Look at a plant’s sun, water, and soil needs before planting it in a given area. These will be indicated on plants available for purchase at garden stores.

Water the plants in your garden. Deceptively simple, yet vitally important, as Minnesota’s periodic hot spells can dry out plants.

Look at the soil quality. Compost is good, as it adds essential nutrients to soil.

Rotate plants. Rotating constitutes periodically switching out the type of plant being grown in an area. This is done because plants each need different nutrients, and soil can be sapped of the nutrients used by a type of plant if it is the only plant ever grown in that spot. The process of rotating is often used on a larger scale, for example with crops on a farm.

Additionally, Liepins stressed the importance of only planting what one can manage.

“One of the biggest things about gardening is maintenance,” Liepins said.

Pollinators can help your garden immensely. “When planning a garden it is important to include plants that have the capability of providing for pollinators,” he said.

According to Liepins, pollinator-friendly gardens will have better yields. “Most plants need pollinators to thrive,” he said.

“There’s a whole world of interconnectivity between plants, whether it be fruit or vegetables or just flowers and then with bees and pollinators because they allow plants to produce fruits, vegetables, and things like that,” Liepins said.

If gardening alone seems overwhelming, gardening with a group of people is also an option, often in the form of a community garden. According to Greenleaf Communities, community gardens yielding food can foster a more connected community, as well as make produce more readily available to people in the community. In addition, they enhance biodiversity, soil, and air in their area, as well as being sustainable and minimizing runoff.