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    26 Seriously Useful Gardening Tips Every Beginner Needs To Know

    Because you can *learn* to have a green thumb.

    1. The right time to start planting varies depending on which hardiness zone you live — use this chart to figure out the right time to begin (and the specific plants that will actually flourish).

    2. Get to know the type of soil you have, and how you might want to improve it.

    3. When you start to get serious, try a simple soil test, then figure out what you need to mix in based on those results.

    4. You may even want to consider mixing in compost or (erm) well-rotted manure to boost your rows or beds.

    5. Keep track of what you planted where year to year, when specific vegetables were ready to harvest, and more with the help of a gardening journal.

    6. And an old-school photo album is the perfect way to keep track of your seed packets.

    7. Try out a system like Square Foot Gardening to help you get the hang of how to actually grow veggies you can eat, and to grow more in less space.

    8. Never grow the same type of veggies in the same plot of soil two or more years in a row — instead, rotate them so your soil stays rich with the nutrients each specific type of plants needs.

    9. Consider ~companion planting~ as you plan: particular plants may help keep another's pests under control, and others just naturally grow well together.

    10. If you're planting flowers, consider a mix of annuals (which last just for a year) and perennials (which grow over many years).

    11. Pick up a few basic tools if you don't have 'em already, and a pair of durable protective gloves.

    12. And store them in a self-sharpening, self-cleaning solution of mineral oil and sand.

    13. You can start seeds in eggshells or citrus rinds...

    14. ...or, of course, seed starter trays made exactly for that purpose.

    15. Always snip your herbs with clean, sharp garden shears — never just pluck off their leaves.

    16. If you want to eat your herbs, don't let them flower — it can change their flavor, and might prevent your plant from growing more tasty leaves.

    17. Always water a vegetable garden in the morning before the hottest part of the day, so the water doesn't evaporate before it soaks into the soil.

    18. Morning's also the best time to water gardens in general, and it's ideal to water both deeply (about 2 inches) and less frequently (like, once a week or so) so the plant roots can grow nice and deep.

    19. Trim or pinch off the dead blooms from certain flowering plants to help encourage even more blooms.

    20. You can also cut flowers while they're fresh to display in vases, of course; here's everything you need to know.

    21. Help attract gentle mason bees to pollinate all of your fruit and vegetable plants (so they actually produce a crop) with a bee house.

    22. And you can take care of any slug problems by putting out a dish of beer.

    23. Mulching your garden can keep the weeds at bay and water in the soil.

    24. Although you'll still probably have to do some weeding; to make it easier on your back, you can always try a stand-up weeder.

    25. You can make a homemade ~fertilizer tea~ out of weeds and grass clippings to help return some of the nutrients they absorbed to your soil (and the plants you *want* to grow).

    26. But do your research before you decide to apply any other chemical fertilizers — you want to make sure you use the right ones at the right times for your particular plants.

    Enjoy your new garden, and good luck!

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