How to Start Gardening

imaginamorguefilecom.JPGNow that the sun is shining, the birds are chirping and the leaves are growing back on the trees, we all know that spring is here! One of the many pleasures of spring is that we can enjoy our garden. Here are some tips that anyone can use for their garden this spring.

Starting the Garden
The first step in starting your garden is to plan it. Many people sketch a layout and plan their gardens on paper before doing anything else, so that they can get a grasp of what they need to purchase, what they need to do, and how the garden will look when finished. There are plenty of resources for this online, to help you out. When planning your garden, be sure you factor in the environmental conditions surrounding your area, to help you choose the right plants. Once you have planned the look of your garden, you can move on with preparing for planting.

Preparing for Planting
Here is where things start to get interesting. You will need to take your Spring Gardening plan with you when you shop for soils, plant bulbs, seeds, and other gardening equipment. This will help you make sure you have everything you need in one trip, and that you have all the tools for growing a healthy garden. After you have everything you need, it is time to prepare the land for the plants. Clear out any dead foliage. Improve your soil with fertilizers and compost heaps, and make sure the ground is ready for planting. When you are sure that you are ready to begin planting the garden, then you can move on the next step.

Planting the Garden
Here comes the fun part. Following the plan that you drew up earlier, and the instructions that came with the bulbs and seeds you purchased, plant your garden accordingly. Be prepared to spend a hefty amount of time on this step, as this should be done with the utmost care. When you have finished planting all your bulbs and seeds, water the garden if necessary, and wait for the blooms to start appearing.

Caring for the Garden
To help keep the weeds out of the garden, and the water in it, you should cover your seedlings with a few inches of mulch. This will ensure that the garden stays healthy when you cannot tend to it, and help you along. The most important thing about caring for a garden is to make sure you keep up with it. Water the plants whenever necessary, pull the weeds before they get so big they try to take over, and always remember to stop and smell the flowers!

Nothing says you have to have a green thumb to be successful when it comes to spring gardening. All it takes is a little planning, tender love, and care, and you will soon be able to bask in the beautiful glory of your own garden. Following these steps will make you a gardening pro in no time!

Submitted by: Cindy Watrous

Photo Provided by Imagina

Preparing Your Yard For Spring

graceymorguefilecom.jpg The sun is shining and the birds are beginning to sing their sweet songs. The flowers are pushing their heads up through the fresh soil announcing the arrival of spring. So what can you do to prepare your yard for spring? There are several things that you can do to ensure that your yard receives the proper start to a fantastic year.

Flower Beds

* Rake-Clean up the leftover debris from last year. This will include items such as leaves, twigs and any garbage that has blown in during the winter.

* Uncover any plants such as roses you have protected during the winter.

* Maintenance pruning-clean up any winter damage.

* Amend the soil-add compost to create a rich soil for this year’s plants.

* Fertilize-choose a slow release fertilizer and add it to all of your flower beds, roses and perennials for a healthy start.

* Add pre-emergent weed preventers-this ensures weed-free gardens throughout the summer.

Lawns

* Apply a humic acid based fertilizer such as Natural Guard Soil Activator. This can be found at your local garden center. Applying this at the beginning of the season aids in nutrient enhancement without stimulating premature growth.

* Mow-if you allowed your grass to grow long during the fall, an early maintenance cutting is recommended.

* Apply a pre-emergent crabgrass and weed preventer. This will cut down on or reduce the amount of weeds that will develop in your lawn throughout the season.

Trees

* If you have ornamental trees, then pruning is recommended in the spring.

* Prune-do any necessary repair pruning that might have come from winter damage. This is also a great time to thin out any excess growth in your trees.

* Apply a dormant spray-this will depend on which type of tree you have. But a dormant spray will help to control any overwintering insect eggs and funguses.

* Fertilize with a tree and shrub specific fertilizer. This will give your trees a great and healthy start for the year as they wake up from their winter slumber.

Taking these general steps in the spring will help you to have a yard you can be proud of during the summer months. Where do you begin when you are preparing your yard for spring?

Photo provided by Gracey

Confessions of a Former Plant Killer

xandertmorguefilecom.jpg I have a confession to make: I kill plants. Or at least I used to. If there was a plant around with any life in it, I could kill it without even trying. I have been known to kill everything from your average, everyday houseplant to an air fern. Since an air fern only requires air to grow, this was a special talent that was manifest when I killed it. I have even been known to kill the occasional silk plant. What?! A silk plant, you ask? Well, it is amazing how they melt when you knock them into a fireplace.

As the years progressed, I became quite skillful in my never-ending manifestations of my talent. This was very disconcerting to my parents as I grew up in a family that gardened. In fact, it was so bad that during a period of time when my grandmother was in the hospital, she actually asked me to not touch any of her plants as she wanted them to still be there when she arrived back home.

So how did I turn this around? Well, some would say that I married well. I was fortunate enough to marry a man who was pursuing a degree in horticulture. I was lucky in that he loved me enough to marry me despite my professed talent for killing plants. During the early years of our marriage, I learned a few things and when he graduated with his degree, I graduated from plant killer to mere maimer.

As time progressed, he managed to teach me even more about plants and gardening. To the amazement of my family, I was even able to one day secure a job in a local garden center. I had finally gone from being a plant killer to having the ability to grow a healthy plant.

Now, while everyone isn’t as fortunate as I was to marry a plant doctor, there are still things that you can do to turn your brown thumb into a green one. Hey, if a self-professed former plant killer can do it, then anyone can!
Here is a list of things you can do to experience success in the garden:

Educate Yourself
One of the most important things that you can do is to learn all you can. This can be done in a variety of ways and methods. You may want to check with your local department of Continuing Education for community classes. Many successful gardeners participate in the Master Gardener Program, which is usually facilitated through their local county extension office. Your local garden center may offer how-to classes and this is a great place to get information.

Ask, Then Listen
Another great way to learn about gardening is to ask people who are experienced in gardening for advice. Then be sure to listen to what they will tell you. You are sure to find friends and neighbors who are successful in gardening and will be willing to offer you great advice.

Read, Read, Read
There is a vast array of knowledge to be found in printed matter. You should be able to find plenty of books, magazines and online articles to answer any question you could possibly think to ask.

Don’t Get Discouraged
Sometimes, no matter what you do, a plant will die. Some plants will just die no matter who is growing them. Don’t let this discourage you from your quest of growing healthy plants in your home and in your yard or garden.

Practice, Practice, Practice
Remember that practice makes perfect. The more you practice, the better your garden will grow.

With a concerted effort, you too can go from plant killer to plant professor. What are some of your past failures and successes in the garden?

Photo by: Dawn M. Turner