Friday, April 8, 2011

Gardening How To's

It's that time of year - at least it is in the Northern Hemisphere. It's time to begin gardening.

Or maybe it's past time to start gardening. I don't really know, and that's part of why I decided to post today. With all the information out there about how to garden; what to plant, when to plant, how to plant, what you should plant with what, when, where and how to rotate plantings, planting up, planting in rows, or blocks, etc., etc., etc., it can all seem incredibly daunting. So I've decided to help out (this may be a little tongue-in-cheek; bear that in mind).

Step 1 - Plant something, anything. It doesn't really matter what you choose. Unless you hate eggplant. Then it probably wouldn't be such a good idea to plant it. You'll have very little motivation to keep it alive, and if you do manage to keep it alive, what are you going to do with a bunch of eggplant you'll never eat? Give it away? Don't count on it. Some people even get tired of receiving all your excess tomatoes, and way more people like tomatoes.
Step 2 - Make sure you water it. Yes, there's another unless. Unless it just rained. But if you're planting in pots, or some other type of container, you'll need to water it very frequently. My younger brother usually waters his containers in the morning and then again when he gets home from work.

That's pretty much it. Yes, there are tons of other things you can do, and a good many things that are probably good to do, but if you are just starting out don't overcomplicate things. If you live in a difficult area, like somewhere the growing season is very short, you may need to read up on when to start plants that require a long growing season, but otherwise try to keep it simple, at least in the begining. Just dig up a little section of your yard, or throw down some wet newspapers and some garden soil, and stick in a few seeds, or maybe some tomato or pepper starts. Read up on the few plants you started with and add a few each year. Before you know it you'll be producing more food than you can eat. Then you'll have to foist it off on your neighbors, or you'll have to read another book on various ways to properly preserve your produce.

I know many people who express a desire to garden, but also tell how they feel they could never manage it. Reading a bunch of gardening books can make you feel as though you need a degree in agriculture to plant so much as a handful of vegetables. This isn't the case. All you really need is dirt, water, seeds and a little diligence.
I'm the first to admit that I'm a little lazy with regard to when I start my planting because we live far enough South that we have a decently long growing season, but I don't plant according to the phases of the moon, or when the dogwood blooms are as big as a squirrel's ear. I don't even remember what it is you are supposed to plant when the blooms are as big as a squirrel's ear, and I don't really know how big a squirrel's ear is so I just ignore it and plant when it best fits into my schedual. What if you work during the week and the blossoms were the correct size on Monday. Do you just skip that year because you couldn't plant 'til Saturday? No. That's ridiculous. I've planted at all times, between May and June, and the plants seem to make it. I know, from expirence, it's not best to do succession plantings after the baby bunnies are up a little size, unless you can somehow fence off the new plants, but other than that, just give it a try. Worst  case senario, you'll learn something you shouldn't do next time.

So my only real garden tip is just to give it a try. Don't sweat all the various ways you could do it. Just plant something. Even if it's just a few herbs in pots on your window sill. Once you've produced something that ends up on your table you'll be hooked and you'll end up learning more than you thought. Or maybe you'll just end up like me and keep throwing stuff in the ground, hoping for the best, and finding creative ways of dealing with all the excess zucchini, cukes, and tomatoes.
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