Monday, May 7, 2007

Preparing Healthy Soil

If you’re getting ready to go on a new garden venture, you need to prepare
your soil to ideally house your plants. The best thing you can do in the
soil preparation process is to reach the perfect mixture of sand, silt,
and clay. Preferably there would be 40 percent sand, 40 percent silt, and
20 percent clay. There are several tests used by experienced gardeners to
tell whether the soil has a good composition. First you can compress it in
your hand. If it doesn’t hold its shape and crumbles without any outside
force, your sand ratio is probably a little high. If you poke the
compressed ball with your finger and it doesn’t fall apart easily, your
soil contains too much clay.

If you’re still not sure about the content of your soil, you can separate
each ingredient by using this simple method. Put a cup or two of dirt into
a jar of water. Shake the water up until the soil is suspended, then let
it set until you see it separate into 3 separate layers. The top layer is
clay, the next is silt, and on the bottom is sand. You should be able to
judge the presence of each component within your dirt, and act accordingly.

After you’ve analyzed the content of your soil, if you decide that it is
low on a certain ingredient then you should definitely do something to fix
it. If dealing with too much silt or sand, it’s best to add some peat moss
or compost. If you’ve got too much clay, add a mixture of peat moss and
sand. The peat moss, when moistens, helps for the new ingredient to
infiltrate the mixture better. If you can’t seem to manage to attain a
proper mixture, just head down to your local gardening store. You should
be able to find some kind of product to aid you.

The water content of the soil is another important thing to consider when
preparing for your garden. If your garden is at the bottom of an incline,
it is most likely going to absorb too much water and drown out the plants.
If this is the case, you should probably elevate your garden a few inches
(4 or 5) over the rest of the ground. This will allow for more drainage
and less saturation.

Adding nutrients to your soil is also a vital part of the process, as most
urban soils have little to no nutrients already in them naturally. One to
two weeks prior to planting, you should add a good amount of fertilizer to
your garden. Mix it in really well and let it sit for a while. Once you
have done this, your soil will be completely ready for whatever seeds you
may plant in it.

Once your seeds are planted, you still want to pay attention to the soil.
The first few weeks, the seeds are desperately using up all the nutrients
around them to sprout into a real plant. If they run out of food, how are
they supposed to grow? About a week after planting, you should add the
same amount of fertilizer that you added before. After this you should
continue to use fertilizer, but not as often. If you add a tiny bit every
couple of weeks, that should be plenty to keep your garden thriving.

Basically, the entire process of soil care can be compressed into just
several steps… ensure the makeup of the soil is satisfactory, make sure
you have proper drainage in your garden, add fertilizer before and after
planting, then add fertilizer regularly after that. Follow these simple
steps, and you’ll have a plethora of healthy plants in no time. And if you
need any more details on an individual step, just go to your local nursery
and enquire there. Most of the employees will be more than happy to give
you advice.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Choosing a Garden that is Perfect for You

If you're thinking about starting a garden, the first thing you need to
consider is what type of garden you will have. There are many different
choices and often it can be hard to pick just one, but hopefully you can
narrow it down. But by narrowing it down, you'll make the gardening
experience easier on yourself and the plants. If all your plants are
similar, then it shouldn't be very hard to care for them all. So here are
some of the main garden ideas for you to choose from.

If you're just looking for something to look nice in your yard, you'll
want a flower garden. These are usually filled with perennial flower.
Perennial flowers are flowers which stay healthy year-round. They're
basically weeds because of their hardiness, only nice looking. Different
areas and climates have different flowers which are considered perennials.
If you do a quick internet search for your area, you can probably find a
list of flowers that will bring your flower garden to life. These usually
only require work in the planting stage - after that, the flower take care
of themselves. The only downside to this is that you don't have any
product to show for it.

Another choice for your garden is to have a vegetable garden. These
usually require a little more work and research than a flower garden, but
can be much more rewarding. No matter what time of the year it is, you can
usually find one vegetable that is still prospering. That way you can have
your garden be giving you produce almost every day of the year! When
starting a vegetable garden, you should build it with the thought in mind
that you will be adding more types of veggies in later. This will help
your expandability. Once all your current crops are out of season, you
won't be stuck with almost nowhere to put the new crops. A vegetable
garden is ideal for someone who wants some produce, but doesn't want to
devote every waking hour to perfecting their garden (see below.)

One of the more difficult types of gardens to manage is a fruit garden.
It's definitely the most high-maintenance. When growing fruits, many more
pests will be attracted due to the sweetness. You not only have to deal
with having just the right dirt and fertilizer, you have to deal with
choosing a pesticide that won't kill whoever eats the fruits. Your fruit
garden will probably not produce year-round. The soil needs to be just
right for the plants to grow, and putting in another crop during its
off-season could be disastrous to its growth process. If you're willing to
put lots of work into maintaining a garden, then a fruit garden could be a
good choice for you.

So now that I've outlined some of the main garden types that people
choose, I hope you can make a good decision. Basically, the garden type
comes down to what kind of product you want, and how much work you want to
put into it. If you're looking for no product with no work, go with a
flower garden. If you want lots of delicious product, but you are willing
to spend hours in your garden each day, then go for a fruit garden. Just
make sure you don't get into something you can't handle!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

My First Gardening Experience

Ah, to this day I still remember my first gardening experience. It was such a disaster that I didn’t think I would ever want to garden again. I almost decided to turn my casual hobby into the most rage-inducing topic you could possibly bring up to me.

It all started a few weeks after I moved in to my first house. I was excited just to have my own grass to mow, since I had been in apartments and condos for quite a while. In between plans to paint walls and renovate the inside to exactly how I like, I thought it would be a good idea to
start a fruit garden so that I could have some fresh produce and put my yard to use. At that point I didn’t really know anything at all about gardening. But still in my spunky youthful years, I decided I didn’t need help. How hard could it be to start a garden and grow stuff? After all, it
happens in nature all the time and nobody even has to do anything.

I already had a grassless patch in my yard where it looked like the previous owner had attempted a garden. But any attempt they had made turned out to be an utter travesty. The area was full of rocks and weeds, with no signs of any agreeable plants. I spent several hours of work spread over several days to clear out the entire area, leaving nothing but dirt. At that point, however, I didn’t realize the difference between “dirt” and “soil”. I was dealing with barren, hard, nutritionless, and unforgiving land.

I made some attempt at making my garden look nice; although I think even Martha Stewart would have had difficulties. I took some stained boards that were sitting in my basement (quite convenient, no?) and used them as a border for my garden, to keep out all the pests that couldn’t jump more than a foot (I figured I would be safe from lawn gnomes). I used the pile
of rocks I had collected from the garden to make a creepy shrine looking thing in front of it. I don’t know what I was thinking when I did that.

I went to the store that very day, and picked out whatever looked tasty. Strawberries? Sure! Watermelon? Yeah! I hacked away a hole in the rock-hard ground and poked the seed in. After that, I think I watered it faithfully every day for several weeks before realizing that it was not
going to grow anything. But even after I had that realization, I continued to water in hopes that my seeds would pull a last minute sprout on me. But I knew there was no hope, and I was heartbroken. After all those hours of pulling up weeds and tossing rocks into a pile, I had no fruit to show for my labor.

So, feeling dejected and betrayed, I logged onto the internet and searched for a guide to gardening. I quickly ran across a site that led me to realize the true skill required for gardening. It was then I learned about soil consistency, nutrients, ideal watering conditions, seasons, and all
those things. After I read up on my area and how to grow fruits, I learned exactly what to do. I learned how to get the ideal soil, when to plant the seeds, how much to water, etc. Just a night of browsing the internet and printing off sources, and I was totally ready for the next planting season.

If you’re in the position I was, and you’re just itching to start a new garden… I urge you to learn from my mistake. Make sure you do plenty of proper research on the types of plants you’re trying to grow, along with the climate. Spend money on good soil, good fertilizer, and good garden tools. Hopefully you don’t have to go through the emotional disaster that I went through.