Gardening is all about growing plants. It can be very exciting to have your own garden. Handling living plants and watching them grow and blossom as you provide them with conditions suitable to their well being gives you a thrill and sense of pride that can only be experienced. Whether you plan to have a kitchen garden to supplement fresh food items to the table, or are passionate about flowers, you will enjoy your garden as you spend time with the plants. However, it is necessary that you know a few things before you begin gardening.
A Plan is Essential
The first thing to do is plan your garden. Measure your plot size and sit down with a piece of paper and pencil and prepare a sketch of how you will like your garden to appear. Check the soil type of your garden. Loamy soil is supposed to be the best for providing the right conditions for growth. You can have a garden even if there is clay or sandy soil but the results may not be very promising.
Plants are living things and thrive in the right kind of soil. Check the ph balance of your garden soil. The correct ph balance is necessary for optimum results. If the soil too acidic or alkaline the plants will still grow but you may not get optimum results. You can use a simple soil ph testing kit available at garden supply stores or may send a soil sample for testing if there is a university, state agricultural experimentation station or other testing facility near by.
Check for the duration of sunlight received by your garden plot. Sunlight is important for the growth of plants. Different varieties of plants require different amounts of sunlight for proper growth. It is important to make a note of all this before you plan your garden.
For a kitchen garden, arrange the planting in a way that taller plants like corn do not shade smaller plants of lower height such as peas or beans. Ensure that all plants receive adequate amount of sunlight every day.
You cannot start gardening at any time. You will first need to prepare the soil for gardening. Best is to begin preparing your land by plowing in fall. Then leaving it during winter will let the frost break the clods for a good soil base. Raking and removing stones and sod clumps will ready your garden soil for planting in spring.
Planting in late winter can be an enjoyable gardening experience as you can teach your children about gardening and the growth of plants. Seed packets are available in stores with detailed instructions on planting. If you decide to get saplings from a nursery make sure your visit is according to the ideal time of planting the crop/plants you plan to grow. Always choose small fresh and green saplings that have started to 'bud'.
You may need to 'harden' seedlings for some time before transplanting them in the garden. This may take a couple of weeks of gradual exposure to outdoor weather conditions, as the saplings become acclimatized. First place them in a sheltered area outside for a few hours everyday and as they begin adjusting to the open atmosphere that is very different from the controlled nursery conditions, increase the timing till they are ready for transplanting.
Protection from weeds is also necessary. Mulching between the rows provides effective weed control. It is also good for conserving moisture and provides a pathway for access to the plants as well. You can use straw, grass clippings, wood chips or garden debris as mulch. Be watchful against insects, pests and take timely action as the plants grow. After a plant has fruited avoid using pesticide unless absolutely necessary.
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