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How to Start a Garden in Idaho – Tips, Tricks, and Ideas

What to do to get your Idaho garden startedOne of the best things about gardening in Idaho is that there are plenty of ways to find help.  It’s not hard to find someone who has had years of gardening experience in the Gem state. You could contact your local extension office, talk with someone at your neighborhood gardening store, take community classes, or you can look for information on the internet. There is an overabundance of websites to guide you along the “garden path”. So, if this is your first time, don’t worry, just look to the experts, and you should have a “burgeoning” experience.

Once you have selected a sunny place to plant your garden, you should examine your soil. You want your soil to be dark and full of earthworms and fungi.  They help keep your soil full of rich organic matter. You also need to check the structure of your soil, that it has the right mix of sand, clay and silt.  Check to see if the soil easily crumbles. If it does, then the consistency is good, but if the soil is hard and clumpy then you may have too much clay in your soil which will prevent your plants from growing a deep root system.  If your soil won’t clump together at all, then you have too much sand in the mixture. Adding compost and/or manure to your soil can provide it with the nutrients it needs. Many gardeners opt for raised bed gardens and fill them with ready-made healthy soil.  This prevents having to condition your soil over a number of seasons. Consulting your gardening store will help you find the right products you will need to help you create your healthy soil.

Next you need to decide which plants you want to have in your garden.  Planting your first garden can be exciting. Some beginners plant more than they can eat or give away.  When that happens, communities become saturated with zucchini. You don’t want your neighbors and friends avoiding you because they’re afraid of your excess produce.  So, start with a small garden.

Here are some great ideas for gardeningChoosing the Plants for your Idaho Garden

When choosing plants it’s important to do some homework to find out what grows best in your area and the best time of year to plant.  For instance, if you’re planting a flower garden you want tulips or irises, then you’ll want to plant your flower bulbs in the fall. Whereas, corn, peas, beans, etc, should be planted in late spring, early summer.  Some higher altitudes areas in Idaho have shorter growing seasons, so consult your extension office or some other local gardening expert for the best times to plant for your area. One other place you need to look for planting information is on the seed packet itself.  This will tell you the range of time to plant the seeds, how far apart, and how deep.

Watering your plants is the next order of business.  Knowing how much water to give your plants can be very tricky.  Be sure to water on a regular basis. It’s important to not allow your plants to wilt because it’s difficult to bring them back once they’ve reached that stage.  Also, make sure you don’t give your plants too much water. This will cause your plants to develop a shallow root system which cannot support the plant and will be more susceptible to dehydration.  It is best to water during the cooler hours of the day so the water doesn’t evaporate before it reaches the roots. Keeping mulch on top of your soil will protect the soil and roots from evaporation and erosion.  Bark is even better because it acts as a weed barrier as well, and adds an attractive touch to your garden. There’s an added bonus to using bark. As it rots it adds needed nutrients to the soil.

Weeds in your garden

Weeding your garden can be a real challenge but is a necessary part of gardening.  Weeds are plants too, and they love that nutritious soil and water your plants need to grow.  You don’t want those weeds to steal the nutrients and water away from the plants you actually want to grow in your garden.  The best time to weed is when the soil is wet and soft, such as after a rainstorm or watering. Early morning is another good time to weed because the ground still has some moisture in it.  Keeping on top of the weeds is important. You don’t want the weeds to mature to the point of producing seeds. If you do, then instead of a small skirmish with the weeds, you will have a full-fledged war.  Weeding once a week is sufficient to keep the weeds under control.

Not only do weeds want to take over your garden but so do pests.  First, you need to identify what kind of creature is enjoying the fruits of your labors.  Then you need to figure out how to get rid of them. There are many good products on the market both organic and non-organic, that vary in price ranges, at most department stores and gardening stores.  The internet has an abundance of advice on how to do away with your pests, both the creepy, crawly kind and the four-legged, furry kind. The latter kind can be more tricky to get rid of especially if you’ve got soft-hearted, animal-loving people in your life.  If that’s the case, consult the experts by yourself and send the soft-hearted, animal-loving people away while you do the deed. Or, if you happen to be one of those soft-hearted, animal-loving people you can find a pest control company who will take care of your problem humanely by relocating your pests far from your garden.

Gardening is a wonderful way to improve your health.  Not only is it a great way to get some exercise, and get your needed vitamin D, but eating from your vegetable garden will help you to have a more healthy diet.  Another health bonus some might not think of, is the mental and emotional benefits of working with nature. Studies have shown that it can help boost your mood, cut down on the risk of dementia, and even alleviate the feeling of loneliness.  Using the help of the experts can make your first time gardening experience a happy one, and set you on a path to healthier living.

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