Return to Childhood -- Get Into Gardening

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How many of us remember being kids, running around the yard, with the earth under bare feet, and the wind in our hair? Well, it is possible to regain that feeling as an adult, and it feels just as good! Maybe it is time to reacquaint yourself with the beautiful outdoors, and the feeling of freedom. Maybe it is time to get into gardening.

If gardening is new for you, it is best to start small. A planter bed of about 20 - 30 square feet would be great, and will help keep about 30 plants in a neat, controllable space. Starting with this size will allow you to wet your green thumb without being overwhelmed by a large project. After your first year, you may realize that you absolutely love gardening, so you can then increase the size of your plot for the next season.

It is crucial to choose a good site for planting. Where your yard is located will drive most of the decision, but hopefully you can plant somewhere that gets more than six hours of good sunlight a day. Avoid large trees with big roots, as they can use up the garden's nutrients and water. Also, try to keep your plot at least 3 feet away from fences or buildings.

Choose a place that gets shaded from the hot afternoon sun, especially if you live in a hot climactic zone. A good garden will grow with variable light, but you may have to tailor the plants you choose, depending on the light level. Pick a spot with good soil, although keep in mind that you can improve soil later. Don't plant in rocky soil, or a spot with really steep slopes or poor drainage.

After you've chosen the location, it's time for the real fun to begin: when you can dig in and really get into gardening. This is not a clean hobby, so prepare to get a little dirt under your nails. First, you're going to need to remove any rocks, debris, weeds and grass from your garden plot, and then use a spade or pitchfork to dig down about one foot deep. Mix in compost or minerals if required, and level the dirt. If your soil is too acidic, add lime; if it's too sandy, add peat moss. When you add in the proper fertilizer, your plants will thrive in either neutral or acidic soil.

Now that your garden bed is ready, it is time for the big planting. You'll have to choose between starting from seeds or from small plants. Starting with plants allows you to visualize the final garden more clearly, perhaps. If you go that route, choose plants with green leaves and stems, and healthy roots. Don't buy plants with very long stalks, or plants with leaves that are yellowed.

Be careful where you plant each plant or seed. Consider placing larger plants at the back of the plot, with smaller ones in the front. And check the weather forecast before you plant. If the last risk of frost is gone, then it is safe even for the more tender plants. If using seeds, check the seed package, which will have instructions on planting and growing.

To thrive, your plants need regular attention and care from you. Watering is essential for their maintenance. With a small garden, such as on a balcony or a container garden on your patio, watering by hand with a watering can is easy enough. But a larger garden will need a hose to get enough water to the plants each week. Don't water every day, but when you do, make sure the roots are adequately soaked. Don't just sprinkle the surface lightly with a spray nozzle.

When the air is cool in the early morning, that is when you should water. The hot afternoon sun will evaporate much of the water, wasting this precious resource and costing you money. Evening water is to be avoided as well, because water can sit all night on plants, leading to mildew and several possible diseases. Depending how thirsty your particular plants are, and how hot your summer is, you will need to vary your watering schedule. In hot weather, you might need to let the roots drink three times a week.

Weeds can be controlled naturally by using compost or mulch. A few inches of organic mulch added to the soil will help with moisture retainment, plant fertility, and will keep roots cooler. Here are some things you can use as mulch: leaves, pine needles, manure, grass clippings, and wood chips.

After you get into gardening, you will likely find that like millions of other folks, you love it! The great feeling of harvesting your veggies or beautiful flowers will bring a smile to your face even if it can be hard work sometimes. Your childhood memories will return with the feeling of the soil in your hands and the sun on your hat. Enjoy!

Gardening Articles:

Author: Dionne Voughar
Author Dionne Voughar writes for several well-known online magazines, on fishing sports recreation and family portrait subjects.

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