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Gardening Essentials

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Gardening Essentials

Excerpted from Carson Arthur, Outdoor Design and Lifestyle Expert, used with permission.

Lee Valley Tools Contributor

As the gardening world welcomes a whole new batch of plant and vegetable enthusiasts, I am going to take a moment to set the record straight on what you really need in your space. So, what do you need to be successful in the garden? Here are some of the gardening terms, tools and practices that have caused a lot of confusion.

DIRT VS. SOIL If you’ve ever mistakenly mixed up these terms when speaking to a master gardener, you’ll understand the passion that a horticulturalist has about the medium his or her plants grow in. Soil is the good stuff. It is full of living microorganisms, organic matter, earthworms and nutrients that plants need to survive. Dirt is considered dead soil. You can amend it with compost in an effort to rehabilitate it, but until you do, nothing but a few weeds will ever grow in it.

SHOVEL VS. SPADE Both of these are digging tools, but do you really know the difference between them? The spade is the garden tool that has a flat edge, used for digging trenches. A shovel is the one that looks like the symbol on a playing card and is used for planting and general digging because of its pointed tip. MULCH There have been many debates on the benefits of mulch in the garden. As a weed barrier, it is very effective at keeping the spreading seeds from reaching the soil below. Mulch also adds some nutritional benefits as it breaks down into the soil over time. When to mulch is what most people get wrong.

WHEN TO WATER The average garden needs a minimum of two inches of water per week in a perfect growing situation. What’s the best way to know how much water you’ve received that week? Invest in a rain-water gauge. It’s the easiest method I’ve ever used. More is not always better for your plants! Studies show that more water usually makes bigger vegetables, but that isn’t always a good thing. Water dilutes the natural sugars in several vegetables such as beets, and too much of it can cause fruiting vegetables, such as tomatoes, to split open.

Most gardeners will tell you it takes time and patience to learn how to garden. My advice to new gardeners is to work with experts and stores that have the history and the experience. They have navigated all of the pitfalls, so that you don’t have to!

Choosing the right plants is key to creating a low-maintenance garden. ‘Gardening from a Hammock’, illustrated on the next page, can help you choose certain plants, how to work the soil, watering techniques, and how to get the maximum benefit from your choices. Includes a wide range of themes, all created with long-blooming, non-invasive plants that require little nurturing. Essentially, how to garden smart so it’s not work.

Contact information, hours, seminars and more about Lee Valley Tools is on their portal listing page on GoWestShore.

Visit Lee Valley Tools for a wide selection of gardening tools, irrigation, indoor & outdoor lights, shade sails, and even the hammock!

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