Tips For Flower Gardens



Does your yard need a bit of a lift with some flower gardens.

Here are a few tips to help you:

- Start small - If you have never had gardens before, do not have a bunch of beds dug up. Have one bed. It is a lot better to focus on caring for one bed than it is to have 6 ratty looking beds. Try it out and see if you love flower gardening or merely like gardening.

- Do not get every tool known to human kind - Get good basic tools. If you really feel that you need a certain tool, see if you can borrow it to try it out before buying it. Otherwise you will be like the guy next door with 18 tools, all rusting in his shed while the weeds overtake his yard. I finally figured out what the problem is. People get the notion that they will have the most amazing gardens and think that they can create it in a week. Or a month.

The secret about flower gardens is that they are slow growing and not something for people who need instant gratification. But in the fast paced world, where everything is instant, it is human nature to get the latest tool in the mistaken belief that it will speed up gardening. You might as well try to speed up a sunset. It happens when it happens and not a second sooner.

- Prepare your soil - If you have trouble digging into the ground in your garden to be, imagine how hard it will be for a seedling to work its way through that hardpacked soil. I see people rent or borrow a rototiller and till up their bed and I want to stop and tell them, remove the sod first. What is the point of tilling sod with grass and weeds right into your garden. The roots will survive and you have just added all that grass and weed to your flower gardens so you can spend the summer pulling it out blade by blade.

- Keep it simple - Know what you are doing before you do it. Gardening centers can be helpful but it is best to look at your neighbor's garden – well, only if it is a good garden – and see what grows there. This will guarantee success in your own garden and that will encourage you to stay with this delightful hobby.

Water and sun are necessary - Make sure that the garden gets lots of sun. Six hours a day is a minimum for most gardens. And make sure that you can easily water the garden. This usually means having it reachable by a hose. You cannot count on rain to do the job.

How To Grow Flowers

If I asked you how to grow flowers, you might start by telling me about soil and water and sunlight. And you would be right. But one of the more overlooked aspects in the quest for the right answer to the question of how to grow flowers is growing them from scratch.

It makes for a wonderful winter pastime for a the gardening enthusiast, starting from scratch. It's actually quite easy to grow many plants and flowers from seeds too. I tend to be a perennial gardener and the plants just keep on coming year after year after year. But annuals are rich in color and texture and shape. No garden is really complete without them.

Many popular flowers and plants grow easily from seeds, and once you have at least one growing you can collect the seeds each year and start new plants from them as often as you'd like. For this year though, you will likely have to buy seeds from a store because you are starting from the very basics.

So what do you do with these seeds? Well here are some early steps in the how to grow flowers exercise.The plastic bag method: If you have very small seeds, you can start growing them with a plastic sandwich bag and a paper towel. Moisten the paper towel and sprinkle the seeds on it. Fold it up and put it in the plastic bag. Seal the bag and place it in an area with indirect sunlight. It is a good idea to mark the bag with a date so you'll be able to tell when the seeds may start sprouting.

The seed pot method: Get small peat pots or nursery flats (or use cardboard egg cartons) and some good quality potting mix or vermiculite. Fill the pots with soil and plant the seeds in rows. Use the eraser end of a pencil to push the seeds into the soil about one quarter of an inch. Keep the pots moist until sprouts appear. When they are large enough, transplant them into regular pots or outside if the weather is ready.

If you ask around among your gardening friends, they might offer you some inside information on how to grow flowers. The woman next door starts hers in plain old flower pots. It seems to work for her. Other people soak the flower seeds in water a couple of weeks before planting time and plants the sprouts. The annuals bloom a little late but it fits into her overall scheme of blooms.

Soil

Regardless of where you live, your flower garden soil can be brought up to a standard that will provide the best possible bed for your flower garden. One of the things that you can do to keep your soil alive and well is create a compost pile. Compost is one of the essential ingredients of a healthy garden, and starting your own compost pile ensures a free, regular supply.

Not only is composting good for your flower garden, it is good for the environment. You can start a compost pile any time but the fall is great because you have all those lovely leaves. Compost does not have to smell bad and it does not have to look bad. It does not have to be rocket science either. My neighbor tossed her vegetable peeling directly on top of her flower garden and leaves it at that.

Compost increases moisture retention, invigorates the soil, and adds plant nutrients. Compost also contains substances that gives plants the ability to fight off insects and diseases. Flower soil benefits from composting. So if you want to give it a try, here are some guidelines:

- Get a dark green or black compost container so it blends into the background.

- Cover the bottom of the compost bin with coarse organic material such as very small branches.

- Start adding composting materials, such as garden debris, leaves and kitchen wastes as they become available.

- Keep your compost moist but don't drown it. If it gets not soggy, it will start to rot and smell.

- Keep it aerated. If you don't, it will start send of methane gas and that really smells bad. You can aerate it by turning it over with a pitchfork once in a while. Make sure there are breathing holes in the bin.

- Keep your compost healthy by adding a balance of compostables. These are usually described as brown and green compostables. Green are things like vegetable peeling and grass cuttings. Brown are things like dead leaves and paper. Aim for a little more brown than green. Brown compostables are dryer.

Good compost ingredients include herbicide free plant material, kitchen produce waste (vegetable trimmings, coffee and tea grounds, egg shells, etc.) and manure from vegetarian animals, such as horses and goats.

Bad compost ingredients include meat, manure from omnivorous or carnivorous animals (like dogs and cats), fatty, sugary or salty foods, clippings or debris from herbicide treated plants, or sawdust from treated wood.

Your flower soil will benefit from the compost and you have helped the environment. You will know when the compost is ready because it will look like coffee grounds.

Containers

You can plant just about anything in a container with the possible exception of a tree. Container flower gardening opens up a whole new world to anyone without a yard or with very little space. What I like about container flower gardening is that I can rearrange the garden to my own liking any time I want.

You can get containers in plastic, clay, or wood. They will all do the job but each has its own problems. Plastic doesn't breathe. Wood is heavy and hard to move. Clay is expensive and is more breakable. Make sure the container is big enough (between 15 and 120 quart capacity) so that the roots have room to grow. They also need good drainage holes that are about a half inch in diameter. Line the bottom of the pot with newspaper or window screening to keep the soil in but also let the water drain out so that the plant roots don't become waterlogged and rot.

Other than these issues, the pots you choose depend on availability, cost, and attractiveness.

The soil should be a mixture of vermiculite (or perlite), sand, manure, and top soil. About the only difference between container flower gardening and gardening right in the ground is the matter of drainage. The sand and vermiculite help keep the soil drainable.

Containers need lots of water. You will get to know how often the containers need to be watered in order to keep the soil moist. Some will need daily watering. The best time to water is in the morning so that the plants can benefit from the afternoon sun without getting dried out too much. Also, if you water in the heat, you risk burning the leaves. Watering overnight lets the plants sit in dampness and promotes fungus growth.

Clay pots absorb a lot of water so keep an eye on those. Some people like to add a layer of sphagnum moss around the top of the container because it retains water and it keeps the plants clean because the soil does not splash up on them when you water them.

Fertilize with a weak solution of a balanced fertilizer at least once a week. Keep the plants trimmed and pinch back growth to encourage bushy blooming plants. Deadhead the flowers when needed.

Other than these few suggestions, container flower gardens are not much different than gardening right in the ground. It does offer flexibility and solves the problem of not having your own yard to play in.

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