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The secrets of successful gardening – revealed

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I often find that people often believe there’s some sort of secret to being a good gardener. I’m here to tell you that there aren’t. It’s mostly a matter of knowledge – knowing your yard, learning a bit about the plants you want to grow, and then planting correctly and not forgetting to water, weed, and feed them occasionally.

That doesn’t sound hard, does it? It isn’t. Here’s what you need to think about:

1. What’s the light like in your yard? Are the spots where you’re thinking about planting mostly sunny? Mostly shady ? A mixture of both? Maybe you’re not sure. If so, spend a little time observing where you plan to plant. Then you can estimate about how much sun it actually receives. Six hours is the minimum for plants that need full sun. Eight is better. (When areas are in the sun only in the afternoon, not the morning, I always count each hour as two, since afternoon sun is brighter and hotter.)

2. Do you know what your soil is like? Dig down and see. It is hard, red clay? Rocky, loose, and easy to dig in? Are there spots that stay wet a long time after rains? Or areas that are hot and dry and the hose won’t reach?

3. The reason you want to know about the light levels and the soil in your yard is that they really matter to plants. Some like sun and others want to be placed in shade. Some will tolerate damp clay soil and others will sit there and sulk (before slowly dying). So you’ll want to pick plants that like the conditions you have. Read the plant’s label before you buy and ask for advice from someone at the garden center where you shop.

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