Photo Credit: congerdesign, Pixabay
Roughly one in three households in the United States participates in gardening, and in 2015, six million people decided to grow their first gardens. Regardless of whether you’re a new gardener or an experienced grower, you can benefit from learning helpful gardening tips, such as proper soil amendments and selecting a location. From flower gardens to succulent gardens to edible gardens, you can grow any type you like and reap the many health benefits that gardening has to offer.
Choosing a Garden Location
Before you begin digging in the dirt, know your hardiness zone, which describes the coldest place a plant can grow. You want to select the right plants that match your growing conditions, such as selecting heat-tolerant plants in warm climates. Also, learn your frost dates to prevent planting too early or too late in the season, which can ruin your garden. If you have a small space, plant in containers. You can grow almost anything in a container, including flowers, shrubs, vegetables, herbs, fruit trees, and berries.
Choosing the right location for your garden is crucial. Spend some time learning how the sun hits various parts of your yard throughout the day and know the needs of the plants you wish to grow. Most plants, especially edibles, need at least six hours of sun exposure. However, some plants prefer the shade. Also, the location should be a spot you see regularly, as it serves as a constant reminder to tend to your garden.
Try to choose a spot near a water source. If it’s too far for a garden hose to reach, you’ll have to lug water to it each time you need to quench your garden’s thirst. You can tell if your plants need water by pushing your finger an inch down into the soil. If the soil is dry, you need to water your plants.
Taking Care of Your Soil
Great soil is the key to a thriving garden. Soil should be nutrient-rich and well drained. Test your soil to know its pH level; anything between 5.5 and 7 is acceptable for your garden. Add organic matter to your soil to maintain pH balance, improve structure, slowly release nutrients, and increase beneficial microbial activity. The soil test will also determine if you need to add nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium via organic fertilizers or organic additives. Avoid using chemical or synthetic fertilizers.
To improve clay soil, add coarse sand (not beach sand), compost, and peat moss. For sandy soil, add humus, aged manure, peat moss, clay-rich soil, or sawdust with extra nitrogen. If you have silt soil, add compost and coarse sand or gravel. Additional soil amendments can include bark to improve structure, lime to raise the pH, and leaf mold (decomposed leaves) to add nutrients and structure to soil. Add two to three inches of mulch to reduce weeds and reduce moisture loss.
Health Benefits of Gardening
Gardening provides many health benefits, including being a great method of aerobic exercise, which helps with strength, stamina, and flexibility. Many people don’t even realize they’re burning calories because they’re so immersed in the activity. From pulling weeds to digging holes, the twisting and bending works almost every muscle in your body. Being outside exposes you to sunlight, which provides adequate levels of vitamin D, which are vital for your bones and immune system. You can also lower risk of dementia by 36 percent through gardening.
Gardening also has mood-boosting benefits. One study found that gardening fights stress even better than other hobbies. Not only did participants report better moods, but also blood tests revealed lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Many adults and children benefit from the socialization opportunities provided by community gardens, which also have the added benefits of “beautifying neighborhoods, producing nutritious food, reducing family food budgets, conserving resources and creating opportunities for recreation, exercise, therapy, and education.”
When you’re ready to start gardening, be sure to do your homework. Knowing when to plant, what to plant, and where to plant helps ensure your gardening success. Also, you want to prepare your soil to help create the optimum environment for your plants. Once you get the process started, you’ll enjoy the physical and mental health benefits of gardening.
The above article submitted by Clara Beaufort with Gardengigs.com as she shares information to consider when deciding on a garden.