beekerFebruary 26, 2011

I don't get it. I want to be able to do outdoor gardening, and I enjoy it, but it seems like I can't get it right. I am great with indoor plants, but outdoors seems to be out of reach for me. Am I the only one who has this problem?

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have you had your soil tested? If not, it could be lacking something important.

If you have tested it, maybe you're like me....nothing works indoors or out!

    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 11:18PM
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I haven't had it tested. Where can I do that? Is there a diy kit?

    Bookmark   February 27, 2011 at 3:47PM
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agnespuffin, excellent suggestion. I had not thought about that. Now, the question by beeker, about a diy kit. I don't know.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2011 at 8:17PM
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A good nursery will carry a plastic kit with chemicals and instructions similar to swimming pool test kits. You can find out NPK and some trace elements plus pH.

    Bookmark   February 27, 2011 at 8:22PM
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meldy_nva(z6b VA)

Most, if not all, states will do free or nearly free soil testing. Check the listing in your local state government - usually under 'agriculture'. You can also buy a kit with directions to obtain the samples and then send off to a lab for a complete test and receive results with recommendations for balancing the nutrients needed. DIY kits are very cheap but easy to mis-read and usually only cover the basic NPK. I'd recommend getting a very comprehensive test (the kind that details a lot of trace elements) for the first time, and then DIY after that.

Do buy or library Patricia Lanza's "Lasagna Gardening" for good advice on building up the soil for flower and veg beds; and Bartholomew's "Square Foot Gardening" for smart info on growing vegs. SFG also has a recipe for making the soil for a bed - faster than lasagna, but dependent on commercial supplies so more expensive.

For reliable results, use raised beds with rich soil, be prepared to irrigate when needed (especially during the hottest months), and stick with vegs and flowers considered EASY for your area. Your neighbor may be successfully growing exotic plants but as a novice, accept that your best show will be from the plants most suited to your climate.

Also, don't believe anyone who insists that weeding (or herbicides/pesticides) is a part of gardening. Learn about mulch and practice what you learn. I spend about 15 minutes a week in the spring pulling new weeds and self-sowns from the perennial beds. Period: that's the extent of my weeding and has been thus for over 50 years.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 2:58PM
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that_other_sharon(z6--Heart of KS)

Good advice. You might check with your county extension agency -- mine does a free test for you that gives you results along with recommendations for improving the soil.

And if it makes you feel any better, I have a lovely garden outdoors, but I can't keep much of anything alive INdoors.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2011 at 10:54PM
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