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Avoid common gardening mistakes

Start out small when planning a home garden.
Start out small when planning a home garden.

Gardening is a task green advocates often jump into at full throttle. Sometimes this can be too much too soon. While it is a great goal to tend and produce as much of your own food as possible, it rarely works out well when the new gardener starts out on a large scale, especially without guidance and help from an established and experienced gardener.

Starting small is the way to go at first. If your yield is large, you will have successfully figured out what combination of sun, soil and other parameters work for those plants in your location. Next time, add a few more vegetables of your choice to your home garden.
If your first gardening endeavor didn’t work out well, you monetary and time loss will be minimal. Research what soil conditions are best for your area. Check to see the sunlight conditions work best for your chosen plants. Sometimes moving the location of certain vegetables only a few feet can make a difference.

Water correctly for the needs of each vegetable type. One common mistake beginning gardeners make is over watering. Follow directions that come with seedlings, or on the seed packages. The time of day you water can also make a difference. Often morning is the best time to water so that plants will have plenty of moisture to draw on during hot afternoons. Some plants may need an evening watering, too.

Soil conditioning is very important. New gardeners tend to over fertilize soil, especially when starting a new gardening space. Soil testing is a great way to determine if the soil n your garden contains the right nutrient balance for the plants you will plant in each area. Remember that not all plants need the same nutrient balance. You may need to add more or less of some nutrients for specific plants.

For true organic gardening, avoid the use of chemical fertilizers, such as the green crystals in a box that are sold everywhere. Composting organic material throughout the year and adding it to garden soil once it has broken down (about a year’s time) helps balance the soil and adds natural fertilizer slowly to the soil. If you can’t compost, research and purchase naturally composted organic soil or other material, such as composted manure. Be sure to follow directions to know how much to add for the specific vegetables you are growing.

Once your garden plot is well established, you may need only to amend the soil yearly with compost or composted manure. A good tip is to consult with a local greenhouse or garden center. Experts there can advise you about the soil conditions in your specific area, and suggest what will work best for the plants you choose.

Don’t plant your seedlings too deep, except for tomatoes. Seedlings planted too deep will die off because root structures have not had time to develop. They can also be subject to mildew and other soil problems that hardened seedlings are strong enough to resist.

If you must use some type of pesticide on your vegetables, avoid a broad spectrum one. Target only the specific pests you see destroying your plants. Plants can absorb many chemicals which will eventually wind up in the tomatoes, peas, beans and other consumables you are growing for food.

With a lot of research, common sense, and advice from local experts, most beginning gardeners can succeed with home grown gardens. There is nothing more satisfying or tasty than a fresh picked salad or veggie on the table for dinner.

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