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Gardening Tips - Part 1

by Patty Lee

I just love to get out and 'play' in my garden. It is my way of taking a break from my work. Spring is so much fun because of all the plants coming to life after a long, cold winter - the wygelia laden with blossoms, and perennials growing bigger and better with each year. Summer is a time to relax and enjoy all the flowers. This year, I saw my first hummingbird, since moving to this house. How delightful to see it as it sipped the nectar from the Rose of Sharon bushes. Fall gives me a chance to rearrange and plant new shrubs and perennials, and to gather seeds to give to friends. Here are some tips that I have discovered that make my gardening fun. Won't you join me in my garden?

1. Collect rainwater in large barrels to ensure your gardening is ecologically sound.

2. Save time and water by planting annuals only in pots and in window boxes close to the house where they are easy to water.

3. To attract butterflies and hummingbirds, select particular perennials (e.g. trumpetvine, butterfly bush, cardinal flower) and concentrate them in one bed that gets lots of sun.

4. Gardening is just like any other exercise. Try some gentle stretching and loosen up before you get into the heavy activity.

5. Watering your gargen too frequently can create shallow roots, whereas deeper roots are needed to make plants more drought-resistant. If you water only as much as needed, the root system will grow deeper into the soil.

6. Try top-dressing your lawn once a year to save water. Spread 1/4" sphagnum peat moss over the grass and work in with a rake. The peat moss will help hold the moisture.

7. For a continuous supply of tomatoes fresh from your garden, plant a few different kinds - beef-steak for making tomato sandwiches, cherry tomatoes for packing in a lunch box, plum tomatoes for canning and the winter-storage varieties that last longer off the vine without refrigeration.

8. Roses need sun and water and a little fertilizer once in a while. Spray with a fungicide every few weeks. Hybrid tea roses are very susceptible to the ravages of winter. Roses with many petals will perform better where summers are dry. Check out www.weeksroses.com to find varieties that do well in your area.

9. Healthy garden plants need soil that is full of organic material, is neutral and drains well. In my own backyard, I have places that are very sandy and also places where the soil has a very high clay content. So, every year, I take some compost and work it into these areas, and every year, the condition of the soil improves. If the soil is too sandy, nutrients just wash away and if the soil is too thick, plant roots starve from lack of air and water. Your soil needs adequate nutrients - nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

10. I have found the perfect annual for those summers when you have lots of company and less time for gardening - wave petunia. They spread out and out to fill a large area, so you don't have to buy very many plants to have a garden just brimming with colourful flowers. Just keep them watered and fertilize every so often. See http://www.wave-rave.com for more information on this plant.

Patty Lee is the Manager of HerIdeas, a fun and informative place for gardeners, crafters and hobbyists. Release your creativity at http://www.herideas.com
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