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Top Seven Gardening Tips

Top Seven Gardening Tips

Gardening is an art and a labor of love - but here are a few common sense basics to get you started. Few things are as satisfying as enjoying a beautiful flower or vegetable garden, or expansive green lawn that is the work of your own hands! Planting at the right time; regular weeding; pest control; and watering all contribute to a healthy, bountiful and beautiful garden.

Whether you are tending flowering plants, a raspberry patch, a manicured lawn, or growing kale or other vegetables there are 7 basic rules you should follow for a healthier garden or lawn:

  • Take care of your soil. Plants need air, sun, water, and soil. Different plants have different requirements. For instance, Western dogwoods want to be wet, and just about any kind of cactus prefers to be dry. Most plants prefer a soil rich in organic matter. Learn about your plants and keep them well supplied with rich humus (organic matter), an appropriate mineral balance, and fertilizer. If you farm organically, look for organic fertilizers and soil supplements. “Fertilizer” doesn't necessarily mean “chemical”!
  • Use the right tools. While you'll need to get your hands dirty, the right tools will make the job easier, more effective and more enjoyable. The "right" tools will depend on the type of gardening you're doing, but we'd recommend a few basics: gloves, shovel, hoe, wheelbarrow, trowel, and of course a hose and hose reel. There are many other specialty tools adapted to the type of gardening you're doing, the size of the job, and even your geographic location.
  • Get a compost bin. A good compost bin can provide a regular supply of nutrient rich compost for your vegetable and flower gardens. It's also a great way to recycle everything from grass clippings and other plant matter, to coffee grounds and egg shells. Depending upon the size of your garden or lawn, it sure beats bagging and hauling clippings and garden refuse to the curb! As we've already pointed out, good soil requires regular infusions of organic material to keep your plants healthy and composting is an economical and easy way to provide that nutrition. There are a wide variety of compost solutions available in the market - and an even wider variety of solutions that you can construct yourself. The internet is a great source for ideas here.
  • Water! Of course you'd expect us to point this one out! Unless you're growing desert plants, you have to make sure they're watered, and even desert plants need water sometimes. Lawns need consistent watering as well to maintain their health and appearance. Find out what your plants and lawns need in terms of water and make sure they get the right amount often enough.
  • Protect against pests. Insects are a constant threat to flowers, vegetables, fruits and lawns. Fortunately there are a multitude of safe - often organic - solutions for keeping these pests at bay. A little bit of research goes a long way in this area. Your home and garden center, or local university can be a great source of advice regarding what works best in your area. Remember - the best solution for pests is not necessarily the most expensive solution. Don't forget about the damage that many animals can do to your garden and landscape. Deer and other large animals have become pervasive in many areas and can leave a garden ravaged in a single night! Fencing, pepper wax, and repellent sprays are among the effective solutions to keeping out those bigger pests and protecting your hard work.
  • Make a gardening calendar. As in most things in life, timing is everything! There are so many things to remember each growing season so put them on your calendar - or at least make a to-do list. Prune and dead-head (deflower) in the spring. Plant fall bulbs in the summer. In the fall, prepare for winter: turn off your outdoor water source, empty your water hose, and bring your hose and hose reel indoors. Make a list of all the tasks you need to do each season and organize them on an annual calendar.
  • Say goodbye to weeds. The definition of a weed is a plant that grows where it's not supposed to. If you want poppies growing on the north line of your garden and tulips on the south, that that little tulip stalk sprouting among the poppies is a weed. Take it out! Be able to distinguish the plants you're meaning to grow from the ones you're not, and remove the unwelcome guests early. If you have a lot of trouble with weeds, try covering your bare soil with organic mulch. Regular weeding makes benefits the plants and the gardener. It's easier to remove a few weeds each day, than to have to tackle a more massive chore by waiting to long in between weedings.

We've only scratched the surface here - good gardening is learned through experience and research over a lifetime. Our top 7 gardening tips should get you started in the right direction.

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