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Several gardening tips as the spring season begins

6:22 PM, Apr. 20, 2013  |  Comments
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Here are some things to remember as this year's growing season begins:

? Gently stretch every muscle and body part you can think of before you go out for a day of lifting, bending, digging and planting.

? Get a tetanus booster shot if it's been more than 10 years since your last one. Tetanus bacteria can enter the body through a puncture wound or even a little scratch. Tetanus bacteria are found everywhere in the environment - in soil, street dust and animal feces. Immunization is very important. Tetanus is an extremely painful and often fatal disease.

? When growing food in plastic containers, choose those labeled 1, 2, 4 or 5. Avoid 3, 6 and 7 which can break down and leach chemicals into your food. Better yet, use clay, ceramic or metal pots for food crops.

? Similarly, don't use treated lumber for edging or raised beds in which food crops are grown. Instead, edge beds with untreated lumber, rocks, cinder blocks or logs.

? Don't walk on the soil while it is soggy. You will compact it, squeezing out air and water spaces between soil particles, permanently destroying its structure.

? Wait to plant until the soil dries out and warms up or your seeds will rot instead of germinating.

? If you can't immediately plant live plants that you bring home from the nursery, place them in a sheltered but bright location. Keep well watered and plant as soon as possible.

? Dormant woody plants awaiting planting should be kept in a cool, dark spot with damp newspaper covering the roots.

? Open bags of bulbs of plants like lilies and caladiums and store them in a shaded, cool, well-ventilated area if planting is delayed.

? Gradually introduce seedlings grown indoors to sun and wind by placing them outdoors in a sheltered spot. Slowly introduce them to bright light and breezes over at least a two week period by extending the amount of time they spend in the sun and wind by a few minutes each day.

? Plant something new this year. It's always exciting to learn about and grow at least one new flower, herb or vegetable.

? Mulch, mulch, mulch. If the summer is dry, mulch will prevent much needed moisture from evaporating from the soil. If it is wet, mulch will keep soil from splashing up onto plants, which can cause disease. Either way, mulch will prevent soil temperatures from extreme fluctuations.

? If you mulch around trees, remember "bagel," not "volcano." Mulch should not touch tree trunks, but should be placed in a ring several inches from the trunk to prevent rotting of bark and to thwart mice and other chewers who could hide in the mulch while they snack on the tree trunk.

? Spend some time outdoors every day, no matter what the weather. Studies show that people who experience nature regularly are happier, healthier, more creative and respond better to stress than those who spend all their time indoors.

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