Green Fingers I Wish

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Grow Your Own

If high food costs and lingering safety concerns make you feel like starting a garden, you're not alone.

Don't let inexperience stop you. You can do it. And the rewards of cooking homegrown food are far greater than if you get your ingredients from a market's produce section.

If space is an issue, container gardening is the answer, and nothing is easier. A pot or two on a sunny deck or corner of a yard can be both bountiful and attractive.

Here are some tips -

Preparing to plant

Though you can choose from an array of containers – half-barrels are particularly popular – my favorites are clay-colored plastic pots. In addition to being inexpensive, they're relatively easy to move and come in a variety of sizes. Besides, they're practically indestructible and can be re-used.

If you follow these guidelines, you, too, may become a devotee of container gardening.

Step 1: Make sure your container has adequate drainage. It should have one or more holes at the bottom. Otherwise, you're in for a soggy disappointment.

Step 2: Prepare the pot for planting. Cover the holes with drainage netting (available at garden centers). As an alternative, you can cut up old panty hose. Some also like to scatter pebbles and broken clay-pot pieces in the pot, though they're not essential.

Step 3: Buy the best potting soil you can find. Don't settle for inferior quality. And don't use garden soil. You'll have drainage problems.

Step 4: Water the pot thoroughly. Add more soil if you need it. When you plant, follow the directions on the seed packets. Once the plants are growing, water them more frequently during soil-parching Santa Anas.

If you have aphids, rinse them off with a garden hose. If you have slugs and snails, try wrapping a copper strip around the outside of your pot. (You can get them at garden centers or online). The Internet also has plenty of other solutions to pest problems.

And remember, the more you garden, the more your confidence will grow.


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