There are 3 things that are required in order to have a successful garden: seeds, soil, and tending. Each bed can take 1 seed and 1 soil. A Deluxe Garden Patch with 8 beds will therefore hold up to 8 seeds and 8 soils. There are many different types of seeds, just ask a local botanist. Most of these seeds are not very useful since the plants are easy enough to gather by a botanist. Gardening should therefore be used to intercross for seeds that are rare to find or even impossible to obtain otherwise.
The next important component of gardening is the soil. There exists three different types of soils, each with 3 different grades. The higher the grade, the more potent its effects. If you can gather or afford Grade 3 soils, then there is absolutely no reason to use Grades 1 or 2 of any soil type. The first and most useful type of soil is the Thanalan Topsoil. Thanalan Topsoil promotes intercrossing and will be used the vast majority of time. The second type is the Shroud Topsoil, which is used to increase garden yield. It is inferior to the Thanalan Top Soil. The final soil type is the La Noscean Topsoil. It is used to increase the likelihood of obtaining high-quality yields, currently it is not very useful. Grade 3 Thanalan Topsoil is the most important and most used soil. It can be obtained in Western Thanalan (x18,y27), at 5 am Eorzea Time. Note that Grade 3 soils of any type can only be gathered by a miner with a at least 370 gathering.
A successful garden also requires tending from time to time. Crops will wither and die in an untended garden. Crops need to be tended at least once a day Earth Time to ensure that they survive. While tending, you should also fertilize them. While the mechanics of fertilization have yet to be fully understood, it is believed that each time a crop is fertilized, the time it takes to grow is reduced by 1 hour. Fishmeal is quite cheap, don't be afraid to fertilize often.
Intercrossing different seeds is the most important aspect of gardening. Intercrossing is the mechanic of generating an otherwise unobtainable seed by planting two different types of crops next to each other. It is the mechanic that allows the players to plant and harvest crops such as Azeyma Rose, Halone Gerbera, Jute, Broombush, Glazenut and more. When a crop becomes ready to be harvested, aside from the crop's seed you may also find a intercrossing seed.
- See Intercrossing for the list of crosses.
Player's goal is the perpetually grow and harvest high tier seeds without going through a lengthy process to intercrossing for them again. For example, by planting Glazenut Seeds with Apricots Kernels, players will harvest not only Glazenuts and Apricots, but also find some Glazenut seeds as well. Players can perpetually grow and harvest Glazenuts, Broombushes, and Jutes. Therefore, it is important to have a good supply of Almond Seeds, Honey Lemon Seeds, Mandrake Seeds, and Prickly Pineapple Seeds.
How to Perpetually Grow Glazenuts
Players can obtain Glazenut Seeds by playing Glazenuts next to Apricots and Sun Lemons.
Let's say you start with 10 glazenuts and 10 apricots. In a worst-case scenario (4 seeds at each step),
In a best-case scenario (7 seeds at each step), Glazenut + Apricot --> 13 glazenuts, 6 apricots Glazenut + Sun Lemon --> 9 glazenuts, 13 apricots Glazenut + Apricot --> 12 glazenuts, 9 apricots Glazenut + Sun Lemon --> 8 glazenuts, 16 apricots Glazenut + Apricot --> 11 glazenuts, 12 apricots
Basically, the self-sustainability point is in-between at either 5 or 6 seeds per harvest. Granted, I don't have the statistics to say what the distribution of # of seeds is but anecdotal evidence leads me to believe 5-7 is where most beds fall. I've rarely ever gotten 4 seeds from a single bed.
A single garden patch should only be used to intercross one specific seed. Assuming the player has a Deluxe Garden Patch (8 beds) then only 4 of each seed in a intercross pair can exist in a patch. The following image is the ideal pattern for the planting of seeds in a Deluxe Garden Patch. The more mature plants in the corners represent one of the seeds in a intercross pair while the less developed plants represent the other seed in the pair.
Intercrossing occurs at the moment a seed is planted. It means that the first seed that is planted will never yield a seed when it is ready to be harvested. Therefore it is advised that after planting the first seed, subsequent seeds are planted adjacent to it. In other words, aside from the first seed, assure every seed afterwards is planted with a neighbor beside it. Also be sure that the neighboring seeds are a different type from the one you are planting. When done correctly, players are expected to obtain 4 to 7 intercrossed seeds.
Different plants have different growing times. The higher it can be sold for at a vendor, the longer it will take to grow. Take advantage of the this fact. For example, Glazenuts take a much longer time to fully grow than Apricots. When the Apricots are ready to harvest, harvest them and replace them with more Apricot Kernels. These kernels will eventually yield Glazenut Seeds because at the time of planting there should already be Glazenuts growing beside them. The only time a bed should be empty is when the entire patch needs to be prepared to grow a completely different plant. Otherwise, replacing plants as they are ready to be harvested will increase your rate of production.
Finally, it is good practice to ensure that there exists at least 4 of every seed in reserve. This ensures that in the event that something goes wrong, you will still be able to grow high tier seeds without having to start from the beginning.
Tips and Tricks
- The ONLY thing that matters for intercrossing is what type of soil/seed you use, and what's next to the plants at the time of planting. Grade 3 Thanalan Soil has about a 90% chance of successfully intercrossing, while Thanalan 2 drops down to around 50%.
- The order in which you plant your garden is very important for intercrossing. Planting in a circle alternating seeds is a lot better than planting one type at a time since you'll have 7 things planted with intercross plants next to them, instead of 4.
- There are no recipes that require two different intercross plants. If you plant a crop between two others, it randomly picks one to intercross with.
- You can plant next to fully grown plants then immediately rip out the fully grown plants, and still get intercross results from the new plants.
- Some intercrosses work better than others. The best one for apricots is prickly pineapple + rolanberry, while the best one for azeyma roses is mandrake + linseed.
- Higher tier harvests such as glazenut only give 1 seed even if planted with Grade 3 Shroud Topsoil. Shroud 3 is fairly worthless but can be used for the first plant put into an empty garden for a slightly higher yield on lower tier plants.
- Fertilizing and watering both have absolutely no effect on intercrossing.
- Fertilizing shaves an hour off the total grow time. You can fertilize once an hour, meaning that if you fertilize the garden religiously you can shave half the grow time off.
- If a garden is not watered in 24 hours, the plants will turn purple and look sad and neglected. If you let the garden wither 3 times, the plants will die and can only be 'removed'. If you let the garden go 72 hours (3 full days) without watering, the plants will all be dead.
- As of 4.0, plants that are ready to harvest will no longer wither, and will instead remain fully grown indefinitely. This is probably exploitable for intercrossing, but also probably not worth bothering.
- It's a good idea to set all ranks in your Free Company to be able to both fertilize and tend, but not remove or harvest.