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How Does Your Garden Grow?

How Does Your Garden Grow?

It's never too early to start planning the spring garden.

By FamilyTime

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With winter still at the door but the promise of spring getting near, now is the time to think about your spring garden. Pull your chair closer to the fire and take out your notebook -- paper or electronic. Grab a few gardening books or log on to some gardening sites.

The more you understand about gardening, the more successful you will be come spring. 

While it does not take much to plant a small garden, you may feel at a loss if you have never had one before. Read, learn, and plan now. Very soon you will be able to get out there and play in the dirt.

Here are four keys to a thriving flower garden. Look out the window, walk around your yard, start thinking about these four elements and by spring, glorious blooms will be yours!

1. Soil
Soil is a living organism that nurtures plants and as such is critical to a thriving garden. Decide on a good spot for the garden and then dig in! Chop up and remove all grass and weeds. With a hoe, shovel, or metal rake, loosen the soil, turning it and pulling out rocks, sticks, and other matter. Only now will you know what kind of soil you have.

Loamy soil is what you want. It is a combination of sandy soil, which is loose and dry, and clay soil, which is nutrient rich but heavy and dense. If you think you have sandy or clay soil, come spring, take a sample to the garden center and ask what you should add to it for loam. 

2. Light
Depending on the size of your yard and how it is situated, you may not have much choice when it comes to light. Don’t worry; there are plants suitable for every degree of light.

Full sun: at least six hours of full sun during growing season.

Half or partial shade: sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon.

Light shade: fewer than three hours of sun per day.

Deep shade: no direct sun.

In general, gardens that face south have sun all day, while those that face north have no direct sun. Consider trees, buildings, and fences, all of which can block sunlight.

3. Flowering Plants
Flowers fall into two general categories: annuals and perennials. Annuals last only for the season, while perennials come back season after season, going dormant during the freezing winter and then poking up in the spring. Biennials last for two seasons.

As a rule, annuals bloom all summer and perennials have shorter blooming seasons. Annuals, which include flowers such as petunias, impatiens, begonias, and marigolds, require more water than perennials but reward you with bright color.

Perennials take some planning. Plant some that bloom in the spring, others that flower in July and August, so that the garden has color all summer. Use annuals to fill out perennial beds with lasting color.

4. Water
All gardens need water. Unless you live in the rain forest, your garden will need about an inch of water a week during the growing season. Water the garden at least three times a week, giving it a good soak.

Water in the cool parts of the day. Early morning is the best time.

When you consider these four crucial elements of gardening, remember that you also will have to fertilize and mulch the garden. More about these as the winter goes on!

Be realistic when you plan your first garden. Start small; you can always expand later in the summer or next spring.

And winter dreaming is totally satisfying!

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