Monday, February 20, 2006

Start On Your Garden Today

Now is the time to begin preparing for the garden you want to have this summer. In most climates, you are in the midst of winter, and you may be wondering how it will ever get warm enough for the soil to nourish a garden! Rest assured that it will! You will be able to get out with your garden in no time.

Now, you may find yourself wondering what, exactly, you should be doing at this stage in the game. I am here to let you in on a few of the gardening planning efforts you can be making right now.

The first step is research, research, research. You should work on getting everything together. If you had a garden last year, ask yourself what you liked about it. What did you not like? What would you like to change? Decide if you will be expanding the garden, keeping it the same, or possibly even decreasing the size and scope of your garden. If you have never had a garden before, now is the time to begin looking for ways to make your garden a place where you can enjoy yourself and enjoy your time with nature. Spend some time at the library. Find out the basic information, such as what climate zone you live in, and begin to look at the various options you have. You will need to decide between flower, vegetable, herb, or perhaps a combination. Also keep your budget in mind. You can start a very small garden for $10, or you can have a large one for more.

Once you have the research down, you need to start planning. Get a list together of the seeds you want and what you need for each type of plant. Think about the watering requirements as well as the size of the plant and its root system when you begin thinking about the size of the containers you will need. You also should plan to go ahead and get the basic gardening supplies. For example, you will need a trowel (which looks like a small pitch-fork), and spade (small shovel), and a good pair of gloves. Those pieces are the minimum of the equipment you should get for your garden. Make a list and go shopping. Take your time and ask questions.

If you do not have a compost heap started, you are running behind! Never fear! You can purchase compost for this year and go ahead and start your own small compost pile. The easiest way to start a compost pile if you will have a very small garden is to use an old coffee tin or similar metal container. You can put anything organic, such as eggshells and cuttings from vegetables and fruits, into the tin. It will create its own heat and turn into compost. You will need at least six months to get good compost. If you want something larger, then you can search around online. There are a number of options available for you to build your own compost pile, but they all work on the same basic principle.

Finally, you should begin to work in your garden! If you can, try to begin tilling the land. Be sure that it is prepared for the upcoming gardening season. Check the Ph level and take care of anything that you need to do to get your soil prepared. Also drag out all of your equipment. Make sure that everything works and that you have everything you need. Many seeds prefer to germinate inside for up to 60 days, so if you live in a climate that will be warming up soon, you can definitely consider getting these seeds started now. Just find a dry place to put them and be sure that you water them regularly. Be aware that you will need to be careful when you transplant them to their permanent home.

You also can begin to put together some garden ornaments if you would like. You can add a little spice to your garden by getting inexpensive ornaments or wind chimes to add to your garden this year. Check out dollar stores or discount stores as they often have these items for very little money. Your garden can be more elegant this year if you begin planning now.

By Julia Mercer

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