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Articles by Dr. francis gouin

No-till gardens make the best use of resources

       Plowing or rototilling your garden each year causes all sorts of problems. Turning up your garden destroys the soil structure, dries out the soil and destroys organic matter. It also contributes to the formation of a compacted subsurface layer of earth called a pan and destroys tunnels and channels that roots of new plants can follow, promoting deeper rooting and greater drought-tolerance.
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Bloom out-performs both compost and commercial garden fertilizers

      Most commercial fertilizers are designed to provide nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.  Unless your soil is rich in other major elements such as calcium and magnesium as well as essential trace elements, your plants will not grow efficiently. Worse yet, repeated use of commercial fertilizers often depletes essential trace elements from the soil.
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The right potting mix makes all the difference

     Plant in most commercial potting media — including Pro-Mix, Sunshine Mix, Farfard Mix, Metro Mix, Jiffy Mix — and your plants get nutrients sufficient for four to six weeks. At that point, you need to begin fertilizing when that nutrient supply is exhausted. If you see bottom leaves yellowing and growth ending, you’ve waited too long.
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And choose the soil to put in them

       Raised beds are a good way to grow healthy plants in areas that are poorly drained or extremely rocky. Raised bed kits are sold commercially, but more economical raised beds can be built using construction materials.
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How to get the most out of less space

        Downsizing has become a familiar term. When children leave home to enter a new life, parents consider downsizing as they will no longer have the help to care for things. As one approaches retirement, it is not uncommon to see couples downsize so they can spend more time traveling, playing golf or becoming snowbirds.  The aging body also encourages downsizing. You can’t do the things you used to do....

The Frugal Gardener’s advice

      Frugal gardeners save unused seeds from previous years, thinking they’ll save money. 
      Like everything else, the price of seeds increases almost every year. But you don’t save money if the seeds you saved and planted did not germinate or grow as expected.
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Do seeds like salt and vinegar? 

      A good science project can be conducted within a month’s time if you start with seeds. Such studies do not require much space or special light conditions. Seeds are readily available, inexpensive and will provide the diversity you need to make comparisons. For many studies, quart canning jars with screw lids, paper towels, water, salt or vinegar and measuring tools are all you need to study how seeds germinate in different conditions.
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Ideas, research and preparation

      It’s about that time of year when parents come to me seeking ideas for their child’s science project. Most of the time, they are desperate because their children procrastinated in announcing they had to turn in a project idea yesterday.
       Here’s what I tell them:
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The best comes from your own patch

        Once you have eaten fresh homemade horseradish sauce, you will never want to eat the store-bought brands. It’s even better if the roots come from your own garden.
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Here’s how to water and repot them

     Orchids are so popular nowadays that they are being offered for sale not only in garden centers but also in drug stores and grocery stores as well as big box stores. 
        As houseplants, they have the advantage of producing flowers over a long period of time. They tolerate shade and perform well even when abused. They are also light to ship.
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