Tuesday, April 16, 2024

HOMEGROWN: Starting your first garden

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PERHAPS YOU ARE PREPARING to plant your first kitchen garden. Here are some basic tips to help you on your way.
Don’t act hastily, take time to select the perfect location for your garden and consider the tools you will need. But before you spend a moment in the garden, first and foremost, make certain that you protect yourself: when working with soil always wear gloves, use sun protection such as a hat or sunscreen, and an effective insect repellant as well.
When locating your garden, consider sun and wind exposure, easy access to irrigation, and if possible provide close proximity to your kitchen. When laying out your planting areas or containers, choose a flat, level surface and allow for a minimum of 18-inch aisles to walk and work in betwee.
Select these basic gardening tools and remember before you buy anew, check around your home, ask family and friends, and browse garage sales for bargains.
For tending your soil, keep handy a small hand trowel and rake, and a shovel. For staking and trellising, have a selection of straight branches or bamboo of varying lengths, a ball of twine, a hammer and a packet of small nails or tacks.
By the time you are ready for your first harvest, you’ll also need a pair of utility scissors and a sturdy bag or basket for your bounty! If you plan to garden along with a child, include them in your effort and encourage them to get involved by giving them their own set of pint sized tools, or watering can.
I have discovered that the most indispensable tool in my garden is a recycled five-gallon bucket. Potential uses, to name a few, include: a soil tote, a rainwater collector, a watering bucket, a bin for clippings and plant based rubbish, and when turned upside down a simple stool.
When it comes to organic pest control, another useful item is a trigger spray bottle that can be used to dispense various home-made or commercially available formulations. Ideas for organic pest control will be discussed in an upcoming instalment of this column. As we have been experiencing quite a bit of rain lately, a brief word on rainwater collection.
If you plan to collect rainwater for the irrigation of your garden, do so responsibly. Discourage the proliferation of mosquitoes by eliminating potential areas of standing water in your garden.
Try this tip for rainwater collection: Using strong twine or cord, tightly secure screen netting over the top of your chosen rainwater collector, the water will pass through while mosquitoes will be kept out.

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