10 Ways to Conquer Your Fear of Gardening

You might not believe it, but you were born with a green thumb. It may have gone untended for a while, but it's there waiting for you to nudge it awake. Put away your theory of being a plant killer, that anything dies under your care. Forget those nagging thoughts of where your garden will live or when you'll find the time, it's there somewhere. It doesn't have to cost a fortune and you'll get more than you give. So, here are 10 tips for conquering your fear of gardening:

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Gardening Tips for Renters

Want to bring more green to your house or apartment? Using a few easy, inexpensive techniques, <a href="http://www.thehorticult.com/">The Horticult</a> shows how you can garden like you own the place -- without risking your security deposit. You don't have to own your home to create a garden that reflects your personal style. Grow your favorite plants and create an inspired landscape -- or patio, interior, or balcony -- using these fun, low-commitment methods. (Although you might want to check with your landlord about the larger projects!) And if you move, you can take it all with you. These 10 tips for renters will give your garden a new lease on life.

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Summer Checklist

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Drought-Tolerant Grasses

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Landscape Ideas

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Growing a Winter Larder in the South

Here at the Sustainable Seed Company, we grow not just to produce heirloom seeds, but also to feed our families all year long, so we always plant winter storage crops. The South has the advantage of a slightly longer growing season and warmer winters, giving gardeners the opportunity to have several plantings over the course of spring and summer and the opportunity to leave some crops like carrots, beets, parsnips, and leeks to overwinter inground. I've put together a list of edibles that thrive in the South; plant now through July to assure your winter larder will be plentiful through next spring.

When harvesting your winter storage crops, always brush off excess soil if you are curing, and never wash vegetables going into storage, any moisture will encourage rot. Always harvest crops at their prime, being careful not to nick the outer skins, and keep only unblemished vegetables for storage -- the others should be eaten immediately.

Grow: Leeks

Amercian Flag Leeks

American Flag leeks is a family favorite.

Harvest: Leeks have the advantage of being able to stay in the ground in Southern climates where freezing is intermittent, just cover them with 8-inches of straw or mulch and pull as needed all winter. If the winter is cold in the South, leeks may get a little woody but can still be used for braises and soups.

Grow: Potatoes

Potatoes are easy to grow in containers or raised beds. Try Goju Valley.

Harvest: late summer, when the foliage dies back.

Cure: in a single layer on newspaper, in a dark, well ventilated, cool area; 50 to 60 degrees; two weeks.

Store: in a perforated cardboard box to allow for air flow. Baskets work well if they have a more open weave. Cover with newspaper to shield from the light. Light will turn potatoes green, rendering them inedible.

Grow: Beets, Carrots, Parsnips

Early Wonder Beets

These tasty trios can be sown for winter storage in late June or July. Try Early Wonder Beet and Little Fingers Carrot.

Harvest: at maturity. Cut off all but ½" of foliage, do not cut off root. Brush roots gently to remove any excess soil.

Cure: No curing needed.

Storage: Constant temperature between 32 and 40 degrees, with 90 to 95 percent humidity. This means a refrigerator, or store in a 5 gallon bucket of damp sand, alternating layers of sand with a layer of carrots and beets. Top the last layer with damp sand to cover all, keep in a cool room and dig for the roots as needed.

Grow: Squash

Delicata Squash

Try this winter staple: Delicata Squash.

Harvest: The key to storage is leaving some stem attached.

Cure: in a warm 75 to 80 degree spot for about 10 days, the outer skin should be very firm.

Store: in 50 to 60 degrees is optimal, and good ventilation is key. Use any fruit showing signs of decay first.

Visit Sustainable Seed Company's website for more tips and growing tricks for your region. 

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