Shop owner advises a good garden starts with a good plan

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 10, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

Home gardening begins (where else?) at home. But not outside in the lawn, before the front porch, or anywhere else that a homeowner feels like beautifying his or her grounds.

Rather, the office or kitchen table is the place to get things growing.

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&uot;The key is to start on paper,&uot; said Tim Johnson, owner of Johnson’s Garden’s, Inc. on Holland Road. &uot;A person should plan out what they want before they go into the ground.&uot;

Gardeners-in-training should contact their local garden center (the Internet is also helpful) to find out which plants are suitable for growing at the particular time of year. Spring and early summer, Johnson said, is a good time to put down tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, peppers, eggplants, onions, and other &uot;hot weather&uot; fruits and veggies (cabbage, broccoli, lettuce and cauliflower are recommended for planting during the winter months). While most plants can be put directly into the ground, cucumbers should be put up on a trellis to grow.

Once the planning is complete, it’s time to step outside and commence digging, planting, watering and weeding.

&uot;The first step is not to go overboard,&uot; said Johnson, &uot;A person’s first plot shouldn’t be bigger than 10 X 10 feet, or however much they can take care of it one year.&uot;

Such a small plot allows quick and easy soil tilling, which allows the dirt to become aerated.

Beginning gardeners should spray the grass in the area with Round Up to kill it, then till it. If a person doesn’t have a tiller, they can use a spade to turn it out.

Once the soil has been cleansed with air, it’s time to plant away. Then comes the maintenance side of gardening.

&uot;It’s important to keep it weeded, and fertilized once a month,&uot; said Johnson, who recommends 10-10-10 fertilizer. &uot;If there’s no rain, they should be watered twice a week. If everything goes well, the plants should bloom by August.&uot;

Not only does planting marigolds around the garden give the nature creation an even fresher look, the flowers are also effective at keeping out six- and eight-legged invaders. &uot;Bugs hate the smell of Marigolds,&uot; Johnson said. &uot;When you’re starting out, you don’t want to mess much with insecticides.&uot;