Gardening is an activity whereby you grow and cultivate plants either from seeds or as seedlings. Plants are often grown for their beautiful flowers and colours. Useful plants can be grown for consumption such as vegetables, fruits and herbs. They can also be used as dyes or medicine to cure illnesses. Gardening is a stress relieving and sometimes even therapeutic activity for some people.

Growing plants from seed, requires some knowledge on how to keep them and grow them in a covered environment so they are ready for the harsh outdoors. Gardening can be quite labor-intensive as the plants need to be looked after. The history of gardening dates back to ancient times. Some of the first civilizations would create gardens to be pleasing to the eye, for shade and the evidence for ornamental horticulture has been found in many Ancient Egyptian tomb paintings. Gardening is a very rewarding hobby, enjoying the fruits of your labour once you have put in all the hard work.

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Natural Gardening: Top Ten Tips for Success

By: Christopher Williams

Gardening in an earth-friendly way can be easy and rewarding. The availability of safe, natural fertilizers, and organically-grown flower and vegetable starts allows for a fast beginning. Follow these top ten tips for long-term success!

1) Be good to your soil. Healthy soil is the foundation for healthy gardens. Be certain that you do not fumigate soil and kill beneficial organisms. Think twice before using pesticides. Pesticides kill harmful organisms but they also kill beneficial organisms. Frequently add composted organic matter to the soil to improve its structure and nutrient content.

2) Water deeply but infrequently. If you enjoy gardening with plants that require supplemental water, that is not necessarily a no-no in natural gardening. The healthiest watering method for plants is to water deeply and infrequently. When watering individual plants, count to ten for flowers, twenty for shrubs, and 100 for trees. If you water in this method, you will only need to water every three or four days, and you will promote deep root growth in plants.

3) When possible, grow plants from seed, or purchase plants that have been commercially grown without the use of synthetic pesticides. While the plants might look healthy and vigorous in the store, they do not always grow out of the effects of synthetic chemicals.

4) Mulch is your friend; black plastic is not. Some landscapers will throw down weed cloth or black plastic under mulch as a weed alternative. This cloth is fine for about one year. After that, the mulch on top begins to break down, adding a layer of organic matter on top of the soil that provides a fertile spot for weeds to grow! Additionally, the fabric serves as a barrier to adding organic matter to the soil and prohibits continual growth of soil fertility. Black plastic is worse than fabric because it heats up and sterilizes the soil, killing harmful and beneficial organisms in the soil, indiscriminately.

5) Use Corn Gluten for weed control. There are several commercial available products for weed control that are made from corn gluten. Corn gluten is an effective weed control that is a naturally occurring substance that will not pollute groundwater. It is better to use a product like corn gluten than it is to hand-pull weeds, because too much hand-pulling will remove precious topsoil, which removes nutrients, and also opens your garden up to erosion problems.

6) Get a soil test. Before adding fertilizer or pesticides willy-nilly, prepare a soil test. You can find instructions for your state by searching for “soil test [insert state name].” The soil test will tell you exactly which nutrients you need to add to the soil, and the proper amounts. Adding more nutrients is not better—for your plants or for the earth. Excess nutrients not absorbed by plants will leach into the groundwater system, and eventually cause problems in lakes, rivers, ponds and the ocean.

7) Go Native. The easiest way to enjoy natural gardening is to grow plants that are native to your area. Those plants are best adapted to your local conditions, and once established, will need less care than exotic plants.

8) Establish a Pain Threshold. This is not for plants, but for you! Gardening the natural way, without large inputs of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers means that you will need to prepare yourself for some damage, especially as your yard establishes a balance between its plants, insects, and animals. If you are willing to tolerate a little bit of insect damage, you will spend less money on insecticides, and have more time to enjoy!

9) Understand your Plants.That might sound like new-age psychology, but it is not. Plants are not people, but they do have characteristics that make them better suited to growing in one area over another. Planting the right plant in the right place will also reduce the amount of time you spend putting them on life support. Additionally, understanding your plants will allow you to plant a garden that you will enjoy, and animals will enjoy, too. For example—fennel is a favorite munchie for the Black Swallowtail Butterfly larvae (caterpillar). If you plant fennel, for a couple of months each year, the larvae will eat it right to the ground. The tradeoff is that you will have hundreds of beautiful butterflies hatching in your yard!

10) Use safe, natural fertilizers. All plants will need some food, whether they are native or not. The number one tip for successful gardening, the natural way, is to use a safe, natural fertilizer. Natural fertilizers are made from animal and plant products, and contain micronutrients that are beneficial to plants and soil organisms. Natural fertilizers are also faster to break down, and less likely to pollute ground water. Additionally, natural fertilizers are not made from salts, so they do not burn your plants. You can also feel safe to walk around in your yard, lie on the grass and look at the stars, and let your pets out.

Following these ten tips will help you achieve a healthy, lush garden, in an environmentally friendly, people-friendly way. Get growing!

Article source: Expert Articles

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