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Ready, Set, Grow!

Ready, Set, Grow!

Spring is right around the corner, and anyone looking for an excuse to spend more time outside, get some exercise, and lower their grocery bill should consider starting a garden.  If you are worried that having a garden will require a ton of work and maintenance, think again!  While you do have to have a certain level of commitment to make your garden grow, it doesn’t have to usurp all of your free time.  The following tips will get you “growing” without too much effort:

  1. Start small.  If this is your first garden, pick three or four of your favorite fruits or veggies and start with those.  Herbs like basil and rosemary are also easy to grow.  The growing season for many popular fruits and vegetables starts mid-March in Charleston.
  2. Pick a sunny spot (many plants need 6-8 hours of direct sunlight) in your yard and determine if you can have an open garden or will need to fence it in.  Animals such as rabbits, deer, raccoons and birds can all cause problems.  A fence can keep larger animals at bay, and a plastic owl or shiny objects around the garden can scare away the birds.  Avoid planting a garden near trees as they will compete with your plants for food and water.
  3. Unless you have an irrigation system, make sure you will be able to water the garden easily with a hose.  Plants need more water when you first put them in the ground and during droughts.  Water in the morning a couple of times a week—avoid watering during the middle of the day because the water will evaporate before the plants can benefit from it.
  4. Enrich your soil with compost or fertilizer.  There are many organic brands on the market today if you are planning an organic garden.
  5. If you have the time and energy, you can grow the plants from seed.  Follow the directions on the package and be sure to leave enough room between plants.  To save time, many home improvement and garden centers sell plants that are ready to go into the ground and will yield their crop faster.
  6. Keep up with the weeds.  Plan on attacking weeds at least once a week to prevent weeding from becoming an overwhelming chore.

Gardening can be a relaxing way to get some fresh air and exercise.  Consider the first year your “trial run” to see which plants grow best and what kind of pests you are up against. For more information, visit Clemson University’s Home & Garden Information Center.