Basic Gardening

Written by Sarah Provost
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When you're considering planting your first garden, it's easy to become overwhelmed by all the gardening advice that's available in books and magazines, online, and from well-meaning friends. While there are certainly a lot of new methods and materials available, remember that cultivating plants is basically so easy that people have been doing it for thousands of years with nothing more than a stick and a source of water.

The Five Basic Garden Needs

Even with all of today's improvements and conveniences, there are still only a few basic principles you'll need to keep in mind. For optimum growth, cultivated plants need appropriate soil, adequate sunlight and water, nutrients, and little or no competition from other plants. Sunlight is the only element you can't control, so choosing a good sunny spot is of primary importance.

Appropriate soil is neither too sandy nor too heavy with clay. Sandy soil won't hold water well, and clay will either harden in the sun so that water can't get in, or hold too much water and get soggy. Either problem can be relieved by use of soil amendments such as compost, humus or peat moss. Adding a balanced 10-10-10 fertilizer will assure adequate nutrients in the soil.

Watering should be deep, rather than frequent light wettings. Water enough to moisten the ground all the way down to the bottom of the roots, then let it get nearly dry before watering again. Frequent shallow watering will lead to shallow roots. Clear your plot of weeds and tree roots before planting, and keep weeds under control with a thick layer of organic mulch, such as shredded bark, or by laying down plastic or another barrier under the soil.

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