Want to Garden but no "green thumb"?
Get in touch with nature!
You want to enjoy the beauty of nature! You want to feel as though you contribute in some small way! You want to plant something and feel the satisfaction of watching it grow as you care for it! It's a truly wonderful thing and you can do it! I have been gardening for over 40 years and every year, about this time, I have the itch to go outside and start digging in the dirt...to clean up leaves, pull out weeds and, of course, look for those little fledglings that are starting to poke their heads up to greet the sky.
Just a little knowledge about your climate can offer you a leg up on getting started. If you try to grow cactus in Minnesota, you will be disappointed because the hardiness zones (3 & 4) in Minnesota don't provide the long days of high temperatures and minimal precipitation needed to grow cactus. Alternately, you won't want to try to grow bleeding hearts or columbine in the southern Arizonia zones (8 & 9). Sunscreen ALERT!!
So a beginning step to the joy of gardening is to identify in which hardiness zone you live.
Hardiness Zones - USA
It's just dirt...isn't it??
While there are many factors in determining the type of soil you want to plant in, there are two basic things to know.
1. Soil types can change within just a few feet. The soil in my front yard is rich and black with just a few rocks found randomly. The soil in my backyard is more sandy and much harder to dig.
2. Generally soil will have some percentage of sand/rock in it or it will have more clay in it. An easy way to determine whether your soil is more sand or more clay is to dig into it with a shovel and see how much of the soil sticks to the shovel. Rocky/sandy soil will slide right off the shovel while soil with more clay will stick to the shovel and to your hands. See the video below for another easy way to assess your soil.
Understanding the basics of your soil type helps you determine how often you will need to water your plants. Sandy soil will dry out much more quickly as the water seeps down into the ground faster. Your plants will need more water in that kind of soil. On the other hand, soil with a higher clay content will hold the water longer but also gets very hard hard with a lot of sunshine and no rain. When it's baked hard, very little water is available to your plants.
Perfect soil is hard to find! If you want to give your plants, shrubs, or trees a little head start on getting their feet (roots) under them, put down a layer of premixed potting soil in the hole you've dug. That soil is mixed with nutrients and can get them started out right. After they get started, you will need to water and fertilize based on the soil type, the amount of sunshine the plant needs and how much rainfall you've received.
Will this soil hold water?
Eating dirt is bad... right?
In some cultures, eating dirt or clay is considered normal although the health benefits remain questionable. A medical condition, called pica - eating non-food items like dirt, paper, etc. -is abnormal and unhealthy. However, in certain tribes in Africa, pregnant women eat clay regularly. It's believed the women get necessary nutrients, like calcium and iron, by consuming the clay. Others believe the clay helps the body rid itself of toxins and/or binds the solids in the body to stop diarrhea. Either way, don't start eating clay without consulting with your physician!
Would you eat clay to stop diarrhea?
Now What Do I Do?
Once you have a good idea of your hardiness zone and your soil type, you will need to decide if you want to start a plant from seed (many vegetables are started from seed if you have a long enough growing season) or a prepotted plant. Sometimes, in a shorter growing season, seeds are started indoors under a grow light or in a greenhouse and then transplanted to the garden or into a larger pot.
To sow the seed...
Watch it grow!!
Ready to get started now?
If you'd like more ideas and information before you jump right into your own growing wonderland, please chat with the experts at a local greenhouse or nursery. They are delighted to help anyone who wants to "grow"!
Thank you for reading my Hub page. Here in Minnesota the growing season is right around the corner and I'm anxious to get out and get my hands "dirty". I will never propose I am an expert in gardening and/or landscaping but I do love it and I'm happy to share information and ideas I have gathered over the years. I will write more Hub pages soon.