Beginner Gardening Made Easy

Families are trying to save money any way they can, and  gardeningmay be one of the best ways to do that!You can grow healthy food in your backyard. Not only will you be able to walk outside forfresh vegetables or flowers, you will know exactly what has gone into the foodyour family is eating. You can growhealthy organic food just steps from your window!

Start the gardeningprocess by planning what kind of you would like. Do you want herbs, flowers vegetables, or amix of all three? If you choose flowers,do you want annuals that need to be planted every year, or perennials that havea shorter blooming period but will come back next year? Also consider the region in which you live. Some plants are more likely to thrive incertain areas of the country. Often seedpackets indicate which areas of the country produce the best results. Your local gardening center will also be ableto point you in the right direction.

Once you decide what you want to plant, you need to find thebest spot in your yard. Look for a placewith easy access to water, proper drainage and direct sunlight. Consider putting the garden in a spot thatyou look at every day, such as outside a kitchen or bathroom window. It will not only be a lovely sight, but willhelp remind you when the garden needs water and weeding.

Now that you’ve chosen the spot, it is time to startdigging. It is important to find theright time for this job you can ruinthe soil’s structure if you begin digging when it is too wet or too dry. A good rule of thumb is to dig only when thesoil is moist to create a dirt ball in your hand, but dry thatthe ball will fall apart when dropped.Use a spade or spade fork to turn over eight to twelve inches of soil,and mix in organic matter as you work.Continue to mix organic matter with the soil for approximately threeweeks before planting your seeds. Thiswill improve your soil’s water retention and soil buffering. Test your soil’s pH before you plant. Some plants prefer more acidic soil, some prefermore alkaline, and some are happiest in neutral soil. Getting the right soil pH may mean thedifference between a flourishing garden and failing one.

While you are improving the soil in your garden, start shopping for plants. Visit your local gardening center, read magazines and brochures, or surf the Internet to find inspiration for what you would like to plant in your backyard. There are plenty of annuals, perennials and vegetables that are great for beginning gardeners. Cosmos, marigolds, impatiens, geraniums, sunflowers and zinnias are perfect first-time annuals. Beginner’s perennials include lambs ear, lazy susans, coneflowers and daylilies. If you are interested in vegetables, consider planting lettuce, peppers, tomatoes or cucumbers in your first garden.

If you purchased small plants instead of seeds, gradually introduce them to bright sunlight. Many greenhouses and gardening stores keep their plants inside and away from direct sun. Start by putting the plants on a covered porch, then move them to an area that gets sunlight for a portion of the day and finally plant them in the ground.

Water your plants only weekly, at first. Use a soaker hose in the mornings for the best results. Any more water and you will run the risk of drowning your plants. Once they are well established, water according to the guidelines for each plant, as well as your area’s rainfall.

Don’t forget to keep your garden tools clean! While this may seem counterintuitive since you use the tools in dirt, it is important. Dirty gardening tools can attract microbes that will harm your plants. Using clean gardening tools is one of the easiest ways to keep your plants free from disease and infestation.

If a backyard garden sounds too ambitious, consider container gardening or square foot gardening. Container gardens are a great way to reuse old porcelain bowls, tires or other items you no longer need. First, decide whether you would like to keep your plants inside or outside, then you can choose the containers you want. When picking a container, there are a few considerations to keep in mind. The height of the plant at maturity, whether it needs partial or full sun and the length of the bloom time are all factors that will help you decide which kind of container you will need.

Square foot gardening is another great option. These are small, intensely planted gardens. It is a form of organic gardening done in closely planted, raised beds. Square foot gardening is a fine option for people who live in areas with bad soil, first-time gardeners or those with disabilities that prevent them from caring for a traditional garden. Square foot gardens require less weeding, less water and fewer pesticides than conventional gardens.

Now you are ready to begin planting! Gardening is a fun way to connect with nature and to give your family fresh vegetables, herbs and flowers to enjoy all summer long.

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