Tips for Success, Planting Seedlings

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After bringing your seedlings home from the garden center, they will need a day or two to acclimatise.  This is also known as “hardening off” and it essentially involves gradually exposing your little plants to windier, colder, and warmer conditions – so they don’t get such a shock when they get planted into your garden.

Taking care as we are transitioning seedlings from their pampered nursery and garden center lifestyles (shade, watering two to three times a day) to life in the real world (variable temperatures, soil that dries out) is worth the effort, as it reduced the chance of sudden death – and it also strengthens the plants so that they can yield crops sooner.

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How to Kill Your Plants

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I know the title is misleading. Our goal should be to grow plants not kill them, right? Of course! This entry is to educate you about some of the most common mistakes every gardener makes. Learning what not to do is the best way not to do it, right?

  1.  Over Work – No matter how much you may love working in your garden, over working it can be a bad thing.  Most plants are fragile and require nature to handle the complicated portions of the growing process.  You are just there to facilitate and make sure that everything is following schedule.  Spending too much time in your garden can lead to accidentally damaging your plants natural process.  Stepping on or leaning on plants can permanently damage their ability to grow fruit.  Over watering and over fertilizing can yield the same problems.  Learn what your plants need, and try not to smother them.
  2. Under Sun – As this sub-section hints, your plants need to be “Under Sun”.  Planting your garden in shady parts of your lawn can often times lead to poor growth due to a lack of sun.  This sounds like common sense, but a lot of gardeners struggle with this problem.  Planting your garden close to your house will allow for easy access and easy watering.  Often times your house will provide shade to the garden on a portion of the day, and this can be the difference between a successful harvest and a meager one.  Go the extra mile and make sure that your plants are able to get the rays that they need.
  3. Over Mulch – Mulch is a fantastic weed barrier, but too much can cause harm to your precious plants.  Too much mulch can prevent water and air from reaching your plants roots.  Yes, roots need air too.  Mounding mulch near the plant’s stem can also be a problem.  Insects will also use these areas as makeshift homes, making your plant’s stem and roots susceptible to becoming the most convenient food source.  Be sure to leave at least a 1 inch diameter between your plant’s stem and any mulch.

 

Keeping Snails and Slugs Out of Your Garden

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Snails and slugs are a major pest to any gardener.  They sneak in at night and eat off the leaves and fruit of many plants.  Fortunately these pests can be removed with a number of simple and safe methods

  1. Set a Trap – the most simple of ways of removing the snails is to divert them to another food source.  As strange as it may seem, snails and slugs are extremely attracted to beer.  Use a small shovel to dig a hole in the ground and placing a cup which is filled 3/4 of the way with beer, you can deter the creatures away from your plants.  The slugs will fall into the cup and drown themselves in the beer.  While a cheap beer will do the trick, alternative substances such as cornmeal and fruit will yield similar results.
  2. Use Deterents – Setting a barrier around your garden with coffee grounds will keep slugs away.  The coffee grounds are also good for the soil, so they will help to nourish your plants at the same time.  Copper strips will yield similar results as slugs will not cross copper.  You can also plant other plants to deter the slugs as well.  Ginger, garlic, chives, and mint will all naturally deter slugs from the area.  Planting these plants in and around your garden will help to keep the slugs away.
  3. Target Slugs Directly – Spend some time investigating your garden.  If you catch slugs or snails in the act of destroying your hard work, take the time to remove them from the situation.  You can relocate, or kill the slugs on the spot.  If spraying the slugs with anything toxic, be sure to do so away from your garden.  Salt is a good solution for killing slugs, but can be harmful to your garden.
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Time-Saving Gardening Tips

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These simple tips will help you minimize the amount of time spent tending to your garden, and maximize the profitability of your time investment.

1. Plant your garden close to a water source.

The last thing you want to have to do is unwind a hose and rewind it after watering your garden.  You might think you will put it away after using it, but realistically it is going to end up stretched across your yard to make access easy.  But we don’t want watering our garden to be a chore.  Planting your garden close to a water source makes this little chore much more enjoyable.  You can even install a permanent sprinkler system that allows you to control the amount of water your garden receives without having to walk to the garden itself.

2. Keep gardening tools close to the garden.

Having to walk to the garage for a spade or shovel is a pain.  Installing a small outdoor storage container near your garden allows you easy access to all of the tools necessary to properly maintain your garden.  Some popular tools to keep at hand are gloves, a small shovel, a hand rake and some prunes.

 3. Turn weeds instead of pulling them.

Weeds are a nuisance, but using them properly can actually benefit your garden.  By using a small spade or shovel, you dig up the root of a weed from the sides.  Next, turn it over and bury all of the leaves in the soil.  This will kill the plant, and as it decomposes it will nourish the soil.

4. Grow like plants close together.

Every vegetable requires slightly different maintenance.  Keep your plants close together depending on they type of maintenance they require.  This means you can do garden maintenance jobs in bulk, covering multiple types of plants at a time without having to travel far between each plant.

5. Keep your plants within reach

When planting a garden, it is better to do long narrow rows vs thick bunches of plants.  This ensures that come harvest time, you will be able to reach every plant in your garden without trampling another one.  If a plant is out of reach it will often become neglected.  Defining clear paths through your garden will also encourages yourself and other to walk in a safe area, and help eliminate trampled plants.

How to Build a Raised Vegetable Garden Box

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Fresh vegetables are something that so many of us crave.  Starting your own vegetable garden can be a little intimidating, especially if you do not already have good soil for growing. A raised vegetable garden box may be the ideal answer to the problem.

This tutorial will describe how to build a raised vegetable garden box from wood.

  1. Find the location:  You have to find the right location in which to put your garden box.  Ensure it is relatively level and get some 4X4 pieces of wood to use as posts. Because this installation is somewhat permanent, you will want to try to find a place that has good access to light, and is close to a water source.  Permanent watering solutions can be installed later, but for now we just want to make sure that you can reach your garden with a hose.
  2. Post it:  Drive the 4x4s into the ground to keep your box from moving.  You’ll want one for each corner and then if you intend the box to be longer than 8 feet, you will want to have a central post as well.  You can make your garden as long as you would like, but make sure not to make it wider than 4 feet.  This helps to ensure that you can reach all of your plants without having to step into the garden.
  3. Pick a side:  The height of the sides is up to you, but we wouldn’t recommend using anything smaller than 2×4’s.  Cut the boards for the two long sides, equal to the distance from the far edge of one corner post to the far edge of the other. The end boards you will want to cut so that they are equal to the distance between the far edges of the posts.
  4. Drill everything into place:  You will want to drill the posts into the wooden sides.  This will give your raised garden box a greater degree of stability.
  5. Protection:  Placing a barrier cloth and a weed cloth in place at the bottom of your garden box will help eliminate weeds from infiltrating your garden.  Place the barrier cloth first, weed cloth second.
  6. Add soil, then enjoy growing:  Add garden soil and then plant your veggies.  Have fun!

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Picking the Right Garden Tool

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As keen and creative a gardener as you may be, if you are to effectively bring your garden idea to life and turn it into something you’ll be proud to look at, the right garden tools generally make all the difference.

But how do you go about choosing the right garden tool?

The secret to choosing the right gardening or landscaping tool lies in the type of gardening or landscaping job you have in front of you. Think not only about what you need to achieve the specific gardening job at hand, but rather about everything surrounding that particular gardening job.

If you are on the hunt for a spade or shovel (for digging up a hole to plant something in) for instance, think about getting one that can be deployed beyond that particular job. A very narrow shovel may work wonders in this particular instance, but what if you need to redeploy that shovel for another different job — one which might require you to dig up a much larger hole or even carry heaps of soil over relatively long distances?

The best gardening tools are those which offer the landscaper more value in the form of versatility, a trait which can be attained in just about all gardening tools if approached correctly. To explore another example, going for the biggest rake possible (a rake with the widest rake head) would only make sense if that rake head was either interchangeable or flexible, otherwise you’d run the risk of damaging some delicate plants that may have been grown closely together, in trying to rake around those delicate plants.

The key to picking the right gardening tool lies in that tool’s future versatility, quality and durability.

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