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Tips To Keep Your Garden In Bloom

Written by Posted On Sunday, 03 April 2005 17:00

For some, gardening is a true passion -- everything these homeowners touch seems to flourish and burst open with beautiful arrays of vibrant color. But for others, no matter how green our thumbs get, our gardens don't.

I was recently in Las Vegas admiring the beautiful blooming gardens at the Bellagio. Hotels make it seem so easy to have rich colorful flowers year round. Then you get home, give it a shot, and it's often a lesson in frustration.

But Jim Horacek the store manager at Armstrong Garden Center in Del Mar, California, says these tips will help your garden look like it's cared for by a professional.

One of the best tips is to get organized. Keep a 3-ring notebook for your garden and in it include the plants and flowers that are in your yard. You can simply keep the empty seed packets and attach them to a piece of paper or photocopy them. It's also a good idea to take pictures of your yard and put them in your notebook. This way you can track the progress. This also makes it easy for you to remember what colors are where. For instance, if you take pictures of your bulb beds in the spring, by fall when you want to add other colors you'll know exactly which spots to fill.

"In your garden use organic fertilizer," Horacek says. It'll help the plants out and save you from a lot of headaches later on. He also recommends using a variety of plants.

"I like planting lettuces, and maybe even violas, that are edible, along with regular foliage or blooming plants. So you don't have to just stick with only flowering plants, you can put some other things in there too," says Horacek.

If you are planting tomatoes, Horacek says, "you should plant them several inches into the soil. With a tomato plant that is four to five inches tall, plant it down another three inches, leaving the remaining two inches above the soil."

"The stem of the tomato plant will actually root in, and you'll get a better root system on your tomato plant," says Horacek.

When gardening, don't be shy with planting. Horacek says to over-plant fall and spring bulbs. "That'll help create flowers interim until the bulbs emerge and it also helps support the flowers, especially on freesias which tend to have a wispy, wiry stem and they kind of flop over. But if you plant pansy or violas on top of them when you put the bulbs in, that helps them keep the stems nice and sturdy so you don't have to stake them as much," explains Horacek.

If you're doing container planting, leaving the plants potted instead of rooting them, size does matter.

"It's better to plant larger pots than smaller ones. You will water your plants less often, plus you can get a better variety in the container. So instead of planting a lot of six inch or eight inch pots, buy a 12 or 14-inch pot and put several plants in there," says Horacek.

Don't over-water. This tip gets mentioned in practically every gardening article because so many people still do the opposite. The rule of thumb is to put your finger into the soil; if it is still fairly moist, resist the urge to water and check again in a couple of days.

"When you first put plants, in you do want to water them frequently until they get established. But once they get established it's better to water them less often, but a deep watering [when you do]," cautions Horacek.

This spring remember to check your garden regularly for those pesky aphids that love to take residence on all of your plants. Ward off aphids with ladybugs; they eat the aphids. Or try insecticidal soaps or Neem oil derived from a tree in India.

And of course, remember to make time in your schedule to enjoy what you have created!

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Phoebe Chongchua

Phoebe Chongchua is an award-winning journalist, an author, customer service trainer/speaker, and founder of Setting the Service Standard, a customer service training and consulting program offered by Live Fit Enterprises (LFE) based in San Diego, California. She is the publisher of Live Fit Magazine, an online publication that features information on real estate/finance, physical fitness, travel, and philanthropy. Her company, LFE, specializes in media services including marketing, PR, writing, commercials, corporate videos, customer service training, and keynotes & seminars. Visit her magazine website:

Phoebe's articles, feature stories, and columns appear in various publications including The Coast News, Del Mar Village Voice, Rancho Santa Fe Review, and Today's Local News in San Diego, as well as numerous Internet sites. She holds a California real estate license. Phoebe worked for KGTV/10News in San Diego as a Newscaster, Reporter and Community Affairs Specialist for more than a decade. Phoebe's writing is also featured in Donald Trump's book: The Best Real Estate Advice I Ever Received and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Buying Foreclosures. She is the author of If the Trash Stinks, TAKE IT OUT! 14 Worriless Principles for Your Success.

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