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Get Ready, Get Set, Garden!

If you would like a garden like Ruby's, you'll need a few things to get started.

* Tools: a shovel (Mom or Dad or a friend might need to help dig); a trowel (to dig smaller spaces and help transplant seedlings)

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* Seeds: Choose ones that grow well in your part of the country. If you live in a cooler area, you may have to wait longer to plant seeds outdoors. Here are a few things that are easy to grow.

* Plants you can eat: tomatoes; sunflowers (the seeds and petals); nasturtiums (the spicy leaves taste good in salads); and green beans

* Plants that look pretty: marigolds, zinnias, cosmos, morning glories, snapdragons, and pansies Some plants grow better if you start the seeds indoors in a warm sunny place, then move them outdoors later. To do this you will need clean soil (you can buy this in a bag at a greenhouse) and containers for the seeds (like plastic flats or peat pots). You may want markers for your seeds, so you can identify the seedlings as they sprout.

Read the instructions for each kind of seed: Some must be planted in deeper soil, some like more or less water, and some should be soaked in water overnight before sowing. When the plants reach a certain height (or have a certain number of leaves), you will need to pull out extra seedlings, so the best ones will have room to grow.

When you move seedlings outdoors (or if the seeds were sown outdoors), make sure you place them in the kind of sunlight required - some plants like marigolds need plenty of sun. Others might need a little more shade.

If you don't have a yard, many plants can also grow well in pots or window boxes on porches or windowsills. Read the instructions on the seed packages, or ask someone at a greenhouse to help find plants that can grow well in pots.

For more information, go to libraries, bookstores, greenhouses, or gardening centers. You can also try special gardening kits for kids.

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