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Everyone is talking about their gardens and how they are excited to get their hands dirty and see what they can grow this year. You are not one of those people. I know, I know you would love to have a green thumb but yours is closer to a black thumb. This can be because you haven’t had any experience gardening or you were taught practices that were not right for your area of the country. Here is a guide to help you plant a garden even if you don’t have a green thumb.
First things first, you need to know what growing zone you are. Check out this chart published by the USDA that shows your plant hardiness zone. This is particularly important to know when you can start planting. In the Southwest they are out in the gardens at the beginning of February whereas most of the US is still under two feet of snow. For those that live in Zones 3-6, a good rule of thumb is don’t plant outdoors until Mother’s Day. If you live in an area where the last frost date has past, get on out there and get the soil ready.
The success of a garden is in the soil. If you are sitting atop caliche you will either need to amend it or grow on top of it in raised beds. Whether your soil is alkaline or acidic, compost and earthworm castings can do wonders to changing the soil’s composition for the better. These additives not only enhance the soil but are also awesome fertilizers for the plants. Every time you put new plants into your garden add more compost. Every time, trust me.
One thing to remember when you are transplanting your plants into your garden is how deep and wide to dig the hole for the root ball. Roots go outwards along the horizon, only the tap root heads downward. Make the hole as deep as the root ball and no more. Gently spread the roots outwards so that the plant stabilizes quickly.
Watering the garden sometimes seems to be closer to rocket science. If you live in an area where you have had a lot of snow then the soil tends to retain the moisture and can provide what the plant needs. In these areas you might just need to water when the temps get a bit high. But if you are from an area where it is more on the dry side, you must learn how to measure water or you will either drown your plant or it will dehydrate quickly. If growing in a container water until you see the water coming out of the drainage holes. Let the water sink in and then water again. If you are planting directly into the soil grab a pole and insert it next to the plant. When you pull it out you can tell how far down the water reached by the soil sticking to it. You need at least 4 inches of water depth to reach the roots. Best rule is to water long and slow rather than fast and shallow.
Following these easy steps will help to ensure that when you plant your garden, your thumb will start to turn a slight tinge of green.