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Ready Set Plant – How To Make Your Garden Grow

Gardening received a big pandemic-related boost in popularity in 2020. A recent survey conducted by Axiom Marketing shows that gardening grew by 43 percent in 2020. Eighty-six percent of homeowners surveyed revealed they plan to continue gardening this year, and nearly half of those people plan to plant more than they did in 2020. Indoor gardening found favor with 46 percent of the survey participants.

Whether you began gardening last year, years ago, or want to start this year, here are a few tips and reminders to help make your garden flourish. These guiding principles – setting goals, creating a plan, getting creative, helping the planet, and enjoying your accomplishments – can be useful in your non-gardening life too. 

SETTING GOALS: Before you start digging up your yard, it’s best to plan ahead to decide what you want your garden to be. And just like flowers, fruits, and vegetables, there are a variety of garden goals too.

Personal Goal: Figure out why you want to have a garden. Having a clear objective makes for easier decision making. 

Gardening Goal: What type of garden do you want? Something ornamental and beautiful to look at or something functional that provides food? Knowing this is important in determining your planting strategy.

Realistic Goal: After deciding upon the type of garden you’ll be creating, figure out how much time, money, and abilities you have to give. Don’t decide on growing and selling avocados to finance a new car without knowing how many years it takes for avocado trees to bear fruit.

Secondary Goals: You can have more than one goal. Your primary goal may be growing more flowers than last year, but you also may want to try growing vegetables. Experts suggest, for instance, to challenge yourself to try growing something new every year. 

CREATING PLANS: Good planning serves to bring your goals to life. By getting organized, you can see how you’ll physically create your garden along with understanding what you need (and don’t need) to accomplish this.
Figure Out Your Plot: After deciding what you’re planting, you’ll need to know how to do the planting. How many seeds should you get? What type of space do you have? How much sun or shade is recommended, and how much sun and shade does your yard get? What tools and other materials should you have on-hand? 

Get The Dirt On Your Soil: Silty, sandy, peaty, or chalky – what type of soil do you have? Do a pH test to see if it is acidic or alkaline. Healthy soil is important because it helps your plants grow and cuts down on your maintenance. And whatever soil you have, weed it every day to prevent major issues from arising.  

Remember To Space Out: Plants need room to grow – from each other. Vegetables and flowers have different spacing requirements. Don’t undercut your gardening success due to overcrowding. Also, make sure you don’t put incompatible crops next to each other. Asparagus is said not to do well near garlic and onions (blame it on the allium).

Make A Map; Start A Journal: Mapping is always useful to determine what should go where. Keep track of your gardening season by maintaining a journal or a calendar of when planting began, when harvesting happens, and what happened in-between. Many free garden planners can be found online. 

Be Seasonal: By selecting crops with different growth cycles, you can harvest – and enjoy – them at different times instead of being overwhelmed with all of them blooming at the same time. A slightly more ambitious option is succession planting, where you stagger the planting of a crop so you get a continual harvest. This approach works well with short cycle plants and with using square foot gardening in order to maximize your soil space.    

Plan AheadFor Next Year: When your gardening season comes to an end, start planning for next year’s. Think about what you’d like to grow. Plant some hardy bulbs (like daffodils) in the winter so they will be ready in the spring. Save unused seeds and other potentially useful items. 

DIG THE EARTH; PRESERVE OUR EARTH: Once you’ve set your goals and made your plans, it’s time to have fun with the planting, which can be done in some creative and eco-friendly ways. 

Shrink Your Lawn – Lawns tend to suck up money. Adding a garden – or just planting perennials or shrubs – can reduce your lawn size, and save yourself some green. It also cuts down on time spent mowing and fertilizing your grass.
Go Native: Choosing native plants can simplify your gardening experience because they are acclimated to your weather already and attract local birds and insects better than non-native plants would. Help out the pollinators even more by planting a variety of flowers, herb flowers, and native flowering shrubs and trees, because what’s good for pollinators is good for us. 
Consider Climbers: A terrific technique to increase your gardening footage is going vertical with some climbing plants, pole beans, vines, or maybe a cucumber trellis. It can give your yard a different look. 
Support Sustainability: Incorporating some eco-positive steps benefits your earth and the Earth at large. Start composting and turn your composted material into “black gold,” a great nutrient-rich fertilizer. Look for organic alternatives to chemical-based fertilizers and weed-killers. Also, be mindful of preserving our natural resources. One way to conserve water is by using drip irrigation instead of oscillating sprinklers.

Think Outside The Pot: Another idea for being more earth-friendly is biodegradable pots. While available commercially, there are several DIY methods – such as using newspapers, toilet paper rolls, egg cartons, and ever fruit rinds – that can be a good family project. Know too that large-sized biodegradable grow bags are good for crops like potatoes. 
Outdoors Indoors: Don’t have a yard for gardening? With a little ingenuity and planning, you can bring nature inside. Plant pockets, balcony gardens, and green rooms are good indoor options, while windowsill gardens can provide some farming fun. Remember to find out what type of space, sun, and shade you have, and which plants work well indoors. 

ENJOY – However you go about gardening, please take the time to celebrate whatever success that you and your family achieve. Have a real “Garden Party” – outdoors or indoors – and include some of your own home-grown food. Gardens can also provide a fine spot for relaxation, which is always welcome nowadays.

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