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Getting Your Garden Ready for Spring

(ARA) – There may still be snow on the ground in a lot of places across the country, but people are already dreaming about the gardens they will be planting come spring. Home gardens are a great idea. Not only are they a source for fresh vegetables that will improve your diet and help reduce your food budget, but an excuse to get outside and burn up calories as well.

However, thanks to our growing reliance on technology, not enough people are taking advantage of all the benefits gardening has to offer. “Americans have a tendency to take the easy way out. Instead of taking the time to cultivate the land and enjoy nature, a lot of people think gardening means you simply jump on the mower, fire up the weed whacker, turn on the sprinklers and pour on the pesticide. Here at Lehman’s, we suggest a gentler approach to gardening,” says Glenda Lehman Ervin, marketing director at the old-time general store her father founded nearly 50 years ago to serve the Amish population in Kidron, Ohio.

Ervin says we could all learn a thing or two from the Amish people, who live their entire lives without the aid of technology. A good place to start is with the preparation of your garden plot. Instead of using gas-powered mowers, tractors and weed whacker to prepare the land, the Amish do it the natural way with push mowers and scythes, and you can too.

“These are great tools,” says Ervin. “There’s no engine to start, no cord to pull, oil, gas or spark plugs to buy, and no noise either. While you’re using them, you can actually hear the birds sing.”

Once you have the grass mowed and the weeds chopped down, the next step is to break up the soil for planting. Heavy duty tools like a Broadfork can make this job easier. The 20 inch wide fork is specially sharpened to take big bites from the ground. Extra-long 60 inch handles give you lots of leverage to break the soil loose. There’s much less bending over than a hoe requires, and no need to chop or hack at the soil. Best of all, the dirt is left loose and pliable, not packed down by heavy power equipment.

Once the soil is broken up, the next step is to cultivate. Instead of using a bulky gas-powered tiller to over work your soil, you can create a smooth planting bed with an easy-to-use rotary cultivator. To use this tool, you simply push it in front of you as you walk down the rows of your garden. The wheel breaks up the soil and works in your peat moss or compost while you get some exercise.

Once your garden is cultivated, it’s time to plant. To keep your rows nice and straight, just drive a one-foot stake at the end of each row and tie a string between them. Then use the string as a guideline.

Dreading the thought of crawling around on your hands and knees to plant all those seeds? No need if you get yourself an old fashioned corn planter. All you have to do is pour the seeds into the cup on the side, push the steel blade into the ground and squeeze the handles. The seeds will drop right where you want them. It’s a very efficient system and allows you to finish a chore that could take hours in just minutes.

If you want butterflies decorating your garden, once you have the seeds in the ground, plant oregano, borage, catnip and hollyhocks between the rows. The colors and scent attract the beautiful creatures. Butterflies also like bee balm, red carnations and begonias.

After planting your garden the natural way, don’t stop there. Make a pledge to water your vegetable plants by hand every day with a good old-fashioned watering can. And instead of relying on pesticides -- which over time can work their way into the ground-water and damage the environment -- to keep the weeds down, get out there every day with a hoe and pull them up.

To keep bugs away, sprinkle a mixture of garlic power and flour on your plants. It works especially well for cabbage flies, but use it sparingly. The mix will get pasty on the leaves if applied too thickly. “If you take the time to maintain your garden, it will look great all season long, and you’ll be the envy of all your neighbors,” says Ervin.

Once your harvest comes in, be sure to pick the fruits and vegetables as soon as they are ripe. The quicker you get them off the plants, the more time they’ll have to make new ones.

When the growing season is done, if you don’t want bugs eating the remains of your garden, plant garlic and marigolds in every garden row. Try alternating the two, planting one or the other every three feet. You’ll like it, but your bugs won’t.

 

OLD TIME GARDEN TIPS

Here’s a trick to keep the woodchucks from stealing carrots from your garden. Fill glass gallon jugs with water and place them around your garden. The woodchucks see their reflections and, apparently thinking it’s another animal, run away. Sounds silly but it works.

If you’d like to force hornets, bees and wasps to move out, try hanging moth cakes on your deck, under the eaves, or anywhere else they like to build their nests. They don’t like the smell so they fly far away and call somewhere else home.

 


If you’d like to learn more about the hand-powered garden tools Lehman’s sells, you can order a print catalog for $3 by calling (888) 438-5346. To view an online version of their catalog, which is even more extensive, log on to www.lehmans.com.

Courtesy of ARA Content

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