Expert Tips: Gardening Made Simple

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By Diana Mackie

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With all that you juggle during the week, it might seem impossible to add "manage a vegetable garden" to the list. However, if you follow these efficient tips and tricks from the gardening pros at, you'll find that you can easily incorporate gardening into your normal routine.

Location is key when it comes to ensuring follow-through with your garden. It will be most effective to place your garden as close to your back door as you can manage. Ideally, the garden's location will also be in clear view of a window or door you often use, like the kitchen sink window or the door you let the dogs out from. With such clear visual reminders, it will be easier to remember to water the garden, or move it into the sun.

It's also quite wise to start out with a modest garden - just to get your sea legs.

My favorite way to start gardening is to use a small, moveable, container garden. You can reuse an old crate or wine bottle box. Even if you are unsure of where the best sun spots are at first, Hometalk expert Anne of The Micro Gardener recommends "rotating your container garden on a portable trolley to where it gets more sun during the day."

To cut down on the time spent watering and checking the soil, layer your crate garden in the following order, drill 4-5 holes at the bottom, layer with rocks, straw/hay/ then soil mixed with composite. The straw will help the soil remain moist.

To reduce the time you spend weeding, cover the top most layer of your box garden with mulch. "Mulching over bare soil and around your plants can nearly eliminate most of your weeds right from the start," says popular Hometalk gardener Jim, from Old World Gardens Farms.

For overall ease of gardening, you should begin with hardy, low maintenance vegetable plants like tomatoes, peppers, onions, chard, basil, and bush beans.

"I recommend easy-to-grow veggies. Lettuce, radishes, and tomatoes can grow almost anywhere," explains Leslie of The Seasoned Homemaker, also a well-known Hometalk gardener.

If you begin from seeds, give them a hearty soaking with damp paper towels before planting them.

Tip: Save your seed packets to refer back to for watering instructions, and to remember what variety worked or didn't work.

With these tips, gardening can easily be incorporated into your lifestyle and your family will benefit from healthier and tastier vegetables!