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Using What was at Hand or What Others were Willing to Share.

Share Your Story: How I Started Gardening.

By Elsobbeauty

My gardens now.

275-square-foot vegetable garden

Flowers along front-yard fence (drought tolerant) purple/white

Side seed garden (just throw seeds and see what grows)

How I share my love of gardening with others?

Share tomatoes/peppers

Help older neighbors with garden work

Who or what inspired me to garden.

I had a mental breakdown and needed something to do. Lots of clearing and amending soil first, then trial-by-error plantings.

How I learned to garden.

Front flower garden: First, clear 30-year-old ivy. Needed to dig down at least three feet to clear roots. Lots of gypsum and sweat added to clay soil.

First plantings failed completely. I had to amend soil. Went around neighborhood offering to mow and rake people's yards to turn into soil (oh, the blisters and sore back).

Second and third garden plans partially failed while learning not to plant drought-tolerant plants along with good-drainage plants.

Side seed garden: Due to bottle brush roots, raised brick planter two more layers and added lots of planting soil and compost. I simply throw down various seed packages, cover with another layer of soil, water and wait for results. Some flowers make it and others don't, but I enjoy watching what happens.

Vegetable garden: Started growing tomatoes in pots during the years it took to break up soil that hadn't been touched in 40 years. Again, lots of gypsum, sweat and poplar leaves to condition soil.

Almost all of my gardening has been done with using what was at hand or what others were willing to share. I've even picked up worms in the gutters after heavy rains and placed into my soil.

Companion planting is definitely the way to go instead of pesticides. Plus, nastursums and allisum make pretty additions and ground cover in the garden.

Many thanks to all neighbors with their advice and loan of tools!

Lessons learned

  • Definitely dig big enough holes for plants!
  • Amend entire garden plot, not just the area of the plant.
  • Mulch, mulch and more mulch for vegetable garden. You can get free garden mulch from tree-trimming companies. They are more than willing to dump the load of chips in your yard versus going to the dump.
  • Ask any successful gardener for tips --- they love to share their knowledge.
  • Go online to university websites and botanical society websites.
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