If you've ever walked down the garden section of The Home Depot and were amazed at the amount of garden tools you're not alone. For such a simple pastime, gardening has become increasingly complex in recent decades. From small, gas-powered cultivators to electric grass shears, the tranquil art of gardening has been commercialized with all of the latest technology. If you're just keeping a small flower or vegetable garden, there's no need for all the gadgetry. Our ancestors made due for thousands of years with simple tools. Here are the five utilitarian tools that will prove useful in your garden today.
Now that you have chosen the spot and built the raised bed for your vegetable garden, itís time to fill it with the correct planting mix. Dirt is dirt, right? Not so; if you want to reap the benefits of all your hard work, using the right planting medium is crucial for success. You will never need to replace the mix again, but you will need to replenish and refresh it from time to time. What kind of planting mix should you buy? For containers, it is often suggested to use potting mix versus garden soil, as the mix is looser and lighter. For in the ground planting, such as raised beds, garden soil is best. Miracle Gro brand is a good suggestion, as it has fertilizer in it, but any such soil will work. Choose a dependable source to buy your soil from and ask them how much you will need to fill your raised bed or beds. Bring the measurements with you; it can be very annoying and frustrating to get home with not enough or too much, and those bags are heavy! The workers at the garden shops are very helpful and will load your wagon in the shop and unload it into your car if you ask nicely. However, remember you will have to lug the bags to your site once you get home. Now, just dump the bags into the bed. Some people like to line the beds first with a liner made of polypropylene fabric that allows water to drain but retains the soil. Thatís your choice, but make sure not to use plastic, as the plastic will keep the soil too moist and the plant roots will rot and not thrive. After you have filled the box to your satisfaction, itís time to plant. Remember not to fill the box all the way to the top; you need to leave at least 5 or 6 inches for the plants to branch out. Make sure the soil is well watered before you start your planting. Now take a break and rest assured that the hard stuff is done; you can wait till the next day or so to start your garden. You did plan what you want and how it will all fit, didnít you?
Grow bags are a great way to have a moveable garden and to isolate large plants that would otherwise take up too much space in your raised beds. Gardenerís Supply Company (gardeners.com) sells attractive, heavy duty fabric bags in several colors and sizes that will allow you to expand your vegetable garden easily and conveniently. They are fun and easy to use and can be used for many years. They even fold flat if you empty them after the growing season is over. Potato grow bags are a clever and fun way to grow potatoes and the kids love to dig for them in the fall. Suggestion: buy seed potatoes at farm supply stores no later than April, as they sell out quickly. You do need to use seed potatoes, as regular grocery store potatoes are treated and wonít grow as well. Another effective to grow large vegetable plants, such as tomatoes, peppers and eggplant, is to use self-watering containers. Such containers can be obtained from Gardenerís Supply or you can purchase Grow Boxes at A Garden Patch (www.agardenpatch.com). The latter supplies a slow-release fertilizer patch that covers the soil for each container. In each case, the rectangular plastic container has a deep well on the bottom and itís only a matter of keeping the well full, eliminating the need to water daily. The roots of the plants reach down into the well and, combined with the fertilizer on the top of the soil, happily thrive in a sunny location. The grow boxes are sturdy and can be reused from year to year. You only need to buy new Grow Patches for each new season. This is a highly successful method to raise all the produce you will need and then some. Your neighbors and family will thank you, as you will be surprised at the bounty of vegetables you will reap. One final note: donít forget to water the containers each day, as they dry out more quickly than in ground gardens.
A vegetable garden is the perfect addition to your landscape adding color and texture to your yard. †It is wonderful to grow and harvest your own fresh vegetables. If you are considering adding a garden to your landscape or you already have one, here are some tips you may find helpful. Location: Choosing the correct location for a vegetable garden is key. †You want to ensure the optimal growing conditions while complimenting your yard at the same time. †Stay away from the family's high traffic areas, avoid your children's favorite places to play, and be aware of the path the dog takes when running through the yard. †Raised beds and container gardens can compliment many areas of the yard as well as the deck and patio. Sunlight: Find an area in your yard that gets the maximum amount of direct sunlight. †Eight hours of sunlight per day is optimal, however many plants will still thrive with less. †Gardens that †encounter partial shade during the day can be planted according to the need of each plant. †Just keep in mind, the more sunlight the better. Planting: When choosing what to plant in your garden, you will need to take into consideration the length of the growing season, the amount of space you have to work with, and the potential yield of each plant. †Purchasing small, well established plants is a great way to get started, however sowing †seeds directly in the garden soil is preferred for some vegetables such as carrots, and radishes. †Be sure to leave the appropriate amount of space between plants to allow them to grow to their full potential. †Be sure to provide the proper support for plants that grow vertical such as beans, peas and cucumbers, and stakes for your tomatoes. †The professionals at your local garden center can help guide you to the plants that will best meet your needs. Feed and Water: As with every living thing, your garden plants will need food and water to grow. †Be sure the garden soil is kept loose at the base of the plants so the water will be absorbed. †It is most beneficial to your plants to water in the early morning or later in the evening. †There is a wide range of plant food available, organic fertilizer is always a great option. †Be sure to read labels carefully, and always use as directed. Maintenance: To ensure your garden grows to its full potential you will need to keep the weeds under control. †Pull out the weeds and loosen the soil with a hand scratcher or cultivator to inhibit re-growth. †Grass clippings, straw, and other organic matter can be placed around the plants to keep the soil cool and moist and keep weeds from growing. †There is also a variety of garden cloth and plastic sheeting for weed control available at your local garden center. A vegetable garden is a wonderful addition to any yard. †There is nothing better than being able to pick your own fresh produce. The more time you have to put into your garden the better your harvest will be.