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Making The Garden for The Beginners!

Making the garden is one of the pleasantest things to pass the time. For me, gardens, whether looking at them-what is blossoming there or gardening, thus, bringing plants to life, is a therapeutic art with a double dividend to my body's healthy. Gardening can be a life-changing process that only nature can afford you- a promising health development from what you rip and what your body gains. Nature mends our bodies in a way we may not know the cause and effect of gardening; whether spending time outdoors, walking, hiking, or gardening, the interactions with nature-nurture our body, mind, and spirit.

When Angie saw my garden last year, she envied it and asked, "Can I make the garden too? Of course, Angie! Anyone can make a garden. So, Angie chose to start a garden. Looking at where she can start her garden, she decided her backyard is the best place. First, it's closer to home, no traveling is needed, and Angie can tender her garden any time she likes, a double bonus for a closer location.

Also, instead of sweating mowing and tendering the grass, she will be sweating growing her own garden… Transforming her backyard section into a mini garden brought so many joys to Angie. She now enjoys working in the garden to unwind and reconnect with nature. She also sees her children take an interest in gardening, and the beauty of growing your own garden for some local yet fresh produce from her garden to her kitchen and to share with her friends delights her. She is tendering, loving, and caring for a vegetable garden, growing her favorite vegetables, and loving the adventure of watching the seeds grow into edible plants or fruit.

Indeed, we need some inspiration, a little push, and assurance that, yes, "You Can Do It." Responding to or reciprocating to your desires depends on your willingness to try.

First Time Gardener?

No sweat! Anyone can garden if they have the desire. Even your first-time garden can succeed if you put some TLC (tender love & care) into it, plan it carefully, and work joyfully.

(First-time gardener success harvests)

I started my garden small and increased the size and the varieties of plants every year. Starting small is an ideal undertaking for a starter and non-botanists or non-horticulturists. In other words, you don't have to be a botanist or horticulturist to have a successful garden, but you must have a mind of a conservationist to interact responsibly and effectively with your garden…Thus, gardening success involves a degree of curiosity about nature, both living and nonliving things, good and constant observation, and monitoring of the interaction of the two (living and nonliving things) with nature.

A small garden comes with less stress and is manageable-small enough to grow just enough supplement for your family's consumption, famously known as a kitchen garden, and if you are like me-into serious gardening, you can expand it later if there is room for expansion, and after you have learned some basic rules of gardening successfully. You can have a small garden, plant varieties, and harvest more than you can consume.

When you have a successful harvest, you can preserve your harvest until the next season, and extra for friends, or donate to the food bank and local market. Yet, you can have a sideroad stand, especially during summer/street summer market, and sell the rest to return your seeds and time you put into your garden if applicable. The small gardens may help make not only credible food accessible but also affordable. Nothing is more credible than fresh, locally grown foods.

I have always loved gardening, whether indoor plants, containers, vegetables growing on my patio, or outdoor gardening.

Though gardening may not be for everybody, making one is not an intimidating phenomenon… I was first exposed to and learned the art of gardening from my parents (both my Mama and Baba loved gardening)

when we were growing up. Afterward, at my elementary and secondary schools, gardening was part of the lesson activity we all must engage in at all grade levels- from plowing the garden, planting the seeds, weeding, and harvesting; even cookery lessons where we cooked what we harvested. Those were the good old days when you received a well-rounded education. Home economics education (gardening, cooking, and sewing) was the lesson activities that every student must participate in, and it paid off for me for it created and left a lifetime foundational skill in those areas of activities. It's no surprise that, even when I live in the apartment, I plant house plants and vegetables in the containers.

The year 2020 holds a place in history as the unforgettable year of catastrophic tragedies brought on by the COVID-19 outbreak that shut down the whole world-people, businesses, and the whole world economy locked down. And as the saying goes, "You cannot cage people, for they are social animals" People find ways to overcome the loneliness of lockdowns and social distancing to pastime and to get their minds out of the intimidation and pervasiveness of the coronavirus pandemic. Hence forged new skills and hobbies rekindled-some gardened for the first time, and others learned the art of painting, drawing, music, knitting or crocheting, etc. Many new skills forged during the COVID-19 lockdown persist to date, which is a plus or a blessing in disguise.

While my friend Cecie revitalized the lost interests and hobbies in knitting and crocheting, I, on the other hand, got more involved in expanding my garden. It started when I grew too much on my patio, and my old neighbor who has land on their property allowed me to plant my extra seedling on their land, and the serious gardening adventure began. I embraced outdoor gardening even more to date, not because it got me through the COVID-19 scare and its many ills but because I have discovered that nature resides in me and feeds my body, mind, and spirit.

Essentials of Making the Garden Planning: Plan your garden. The success of your garden depends on the planning. Planning is a crucial ingredient for successful gardening which

means a good harvest and a payoff for your time committed to gardening and other things, such as the costs of seeds and care for the soils and plants to grow well. With the planning goes the decision about the kind of garden you want and like-plants vegetables and fruits (medicinal, herbs, spices) or a flower garden.

Style of the garden: What style of garden do you prefer-a raised bed or a flat plain garden…for a beginner, a rectangular garden is the easiest to start with and work through, but it doesn't have to be rectangular if you cannot make it to that shape. Just make it easy to navigate in terms of bringing the plants to their best growth-easier access to the area during watering or bringing in other garden essentials-soil, mulch, harvesting, cleaning, etc.

The season for Gardening: What time of the year do you like to garden? Gardening can be a year-round activity (year-round gardening may require the application of green-house farming techniques, especially in areas with four seasons), or you can opt for a specific season. If you reside in a place with four seasons, deciding which season to garden is not only what season you prefer, but it determines what grows best in each season. Each season comes with its challenges. Whether it is a Spring Garden, Summer Garden, Fall Garden, or Winter Garden, the timing of your planting and the types and varieties of plants that grow well for each season are worth studying and knowing the basics. The types of plants you choose to grow (Annuals, Biennials, or Perennials), knowing the lifetime of the plants you like to plant is significant as deciding which season to grow your garden. Knowing the lifetime of the plants you want to plant has three important advantages:

i) It helps you make a better decision about the care the plant requires.

ii) To know the size of the plant and the space it needs for its full growth, and whether such type of plant is supported by the weather of the season you like to garden.

*Annual plants grow from seed, bloom, and die in one year.

*Biennial plants complete their growth in two or three years.

*Perennial plants live for several years.

iii) To know and note the planting time or dates for each type of plant. Whether it is vegetable or flower, knowing the planting season and conditions that allow seeds to germinate, sprout, and blossom well is crucial. Some seeds can be put on the ground before the last killing frost in Spring for those in four weather cycles, but other seeds must be planted only when it is warm. When you don't have conducive weather and conditions for seeds to germinate, sprout, and blossom, nothing else can make the plant grow well…sometimes mother nature can interfere and affects all the efforts you have put into your plants to grow well…the key is to be observatory and adjust accordingly and on a timely manner.

Remember, if you plant your seeds later in the season, consider the time it needs to mature-seeds must have enough time to mature before the first frost in fall if you reside in the four-weather season area, or consider the care it needs to survive the harsh cold and sometimes extreme heat. I made this mistake in 2021 when I planted Okra a bit late and didn't think about the frost in the fall; sometimes, weather changes abruptly-changes may come sooner or later, and unprepared-my well thriving and healthy Okra fell victim to the weather dynamics. The fruits and flowers still blossom turned black and withered to no returning state. There was nothing I could do to save the Okra, or perhaps I did not anticipate such an abrupt weather change, and I wasn't prepared to cover the plants, especially at the location they were. It was heartbroken and a lesson well learned though we cannot fool mother nature, for it does what it wants and when it wants.

Planting season guidelines from plant experts and instructions on the seeds packets help you balance the timing of planting, but always observe the

weather patterns, for there are variations and unpredictability. Of course, mother nature may set the tone sometimes.

Vegetables or Flowers: Decide what to grow. What vegetable and or flowers do you like and get familiar with how they grow well, under what conditions-temperatures, soil, sunlight, and water; the size of the chosen plants, and the space for the plants to grow well. Explore the art of grouping plants or whether mixing vegetables or flowers… If you prefer vegetables and flowers, it is possible to integrate your plants-grow vegetables and flowers together because they complement one another. Mixing your vegetables and flowers have many advantages, but the most significant are:

i) Flowers can guard your vegetables as they act as repellants, helping to deter some bugs. Some herbs, such as Rosemary, basil, mint, sage, and oregano, have strong aromas/scents that deter some plant predators, from bugs to deer.

ii) Flowers are good pollinator agents.

iii) Flowers can be used as a border around your vegetable garden. Certain vegetables and herbs are great in a flower garden, and around the edges of your garden, they help preserve the soil from being washed away and block some predators away from entering the garden.

The key here is how to choose what to group or mix, where to grow them together, how many-the number of rows or plants you will have, and the space you will need between each row or each plant when they are fully grown. When I grouped the string beans, sweet peas, and tomatoes, they grew very well together, but they covered the area, making it difficult to attend to them, especially when they were fully growing. I underestimated to size and the space they would need even though the overcrowding did not affect the growth, the blossoming, and the bearing of fruits.

A fenced garden is perfect for deterring the predators such as deer, rabbits, and other wild creatures. It also aids climber or creeper vegetables such as sweet peas, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and some squashes to support themselves and make it easy for growth and care.

On the other hand, separating vegetables into groups has its beauty.

They not only look amazing when one kind of vegetable grows well in orderly fashion-vegetables come in all colors, shapes, and sizes. Peppers are decorative, especially planting varieties together, and Peppers are vegetables that come in different colors, shapes, and sizes. They also come in distinct aromas and spiciness- some are sweet peppers such as bell peppers (Red, green, orange, and yellow), mini sweet peppers, Aji dulce, Cubanelle, Friggitello (Sweet Italian peppers, Pimiento, etc.

They also come in hot spicy such as Jalapeno, Ghost pepper, Indian chills (Green & Read), Habanero (Orange, Green & Red), Fresno chillis, Espeletter, etc.

Herbs like parsley, sweet lavender, thyme, sage, cilantro, and oregano can be planted together in the herbs section. I paired Rosemary and basil can for the size or space they need. From time immemorial, herbs have been used to enhance the flavor and aroma of the foods we cook and the teas we drink and as a home remedy for healing many illnesses.

Planting Space: Choosing the best planting space for your garden is paramount for your garden's success. If the planting area offers the conditions for the plants to flourish, you have succeeded in planning your garden. Your garden space must get direct sunlight up to 5 to six hours a day.

Must contain and or maintain good/nutrients soil. The garden should be well-leveled to retain irrigation water and soil. Hill gardens or uncontrolled slopes can cause the soil and water to be washed away easily. When topsoil is washed away, it takes with it all the nutrients. Health soils are mostly topsoil which contains nutrients and is a foundation for thriving plants and plentiful harvest.

Feed the soil, not the plant. A rich soil does not need fertilizer, literally. If the soil is poor, you can enrich it before planting starts. In the Spring, with the compost you created from fall leaves or manure, especially cow, goat, or chicken manure. Horse manure is not that great for the garden because the horse has only one stomach, which means that the foods horses eat are only digested in the stomach and get out …it doesn't go through a process of breaking the food further down. So, horse manure is not a good source of phosphorus and potassium that plants need, and horse manure may produce seeds from the grass they eat and increase weeds in your garden.

You can make your compost by pilling fallen leaves, peels from vegetables you use/or collect from the restaurants, and lawn chippings in a sheltered spot, letting them rot and decay until they turn to excellent black soil. Compost gives you the best soil for your plant. The best soil is loose and allows soft drainage, and high in humus-a black soil formed when leaves and other organic materials from vegetation and animals' substances decompose, and decay is called humus soil.

A garden close to your home or in your backyard is preferred for a small garden whenever possible. It's crucial to stay away from shades-trees, shrubs, and stones. These can make your garden unattainable due to blocking the sun; the tree roots may rob your garden of nutrients and moisture by sacking the waters from your plants. Humus soil is sold in all farm and hardware stores or from the plant nursery locations.

Garden equipment: What will the work of gardening be accomplished apart from seeds and space, or time and energy you commit to it? The gardening tools-the equipment you will need to perform the work of gardening include but are not limited to shovels, a rototiller to plow the soil, a hoe for putting the seeds on the ground, weeding, and breaking up the soil around plants to allow easy breathing, drainage, and nutrients intake, a

garden rake and a wheelbarrow for transporting the plants around or carrying out the weeds, or manure/new soil in, to replenish the soil; even a sprayer (small bottle or big sprayer) depending on the size of your garden, to keep your plants free of bugs and predators. Of course, there are other small yet essential gears for good gardening, such as garden gloves, maybe a planner/calendar, big and small containers, plants support polls/sticks, garden threads, etc. At least with these in mind, you can make a garden.


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