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

Summer is a gardener¿s busiest season. If you¿re short on time or not sure what to do, follow this easy summer gardening checklist to keep your lawn and garden in great shape all season long.

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Drought-Tolerant Grasses

Drought! The word itself strikes fear into the hearts of gardeners everywhere. Scarce water resources, especially in hard hit areas such as California and Texas, are making it almost impossible to maintain traditional style lawns. That's why many people are replacing their lawns with groundcovers and native plants. But for those who want a lush green lawn, here are some less-thirsty options.

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How to Improve Garden Soil

Many homeowners inherit bad garden soil ¿ but you don¿t have to live with it! Learn how to get the best garden soil possible through amendments, composting, and more.

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Top Shade Perennials

Shade plants are perfect for those tough spots in your yard. Learn about the best shade-loving perennials, including flowering shade perennials, partial shade perennials, and full-shade perennials.

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Landscape Ideas

Landscape ideas provide inspiration, and studies show that upgrading your landscape will add value to your home. Here are some great landscape ideas to improve your home's outward appeal.

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Pile It On!

Our readers share their "recipes" for great compost piles.

We asked for your secrets of making good compost quickly. Here's our pick of the crop:

Sandy Padilla: I don't have any real secrets for composting; mostly kitchen scraps and garden refuse (no weeds), but I love doing it. My husband couldn't believe how excited I was when I bought my first bin composter; now I have two! I also use grass cuttings and dry leaves. Every so often I get dried horse manure from the ranch our kids live on. That really heats things up. We have a camellia that never flowered and looked so sickly I was going to remove it. I started tossing a little compost under it and after a couple of years it not only looks green and healthy, it has beautiful flowers.

Winter Garden: During the long Fairbanks winters, I let worms eat my garbage. I have two bins of red wigglers in my garage. I use shredded newspaper and junk mail for bedding and bury my kitchen scraps. In the spring I have a wonderful source of compost -- worm castings -- long before the outdoor compost piles have thawed. It's easy.

Renee: One of the best ingredients for compost is hair. You can collect this at your local salon. Hair is rich in nitrogen and can speed up the composting process. I prefer a two-bin, side-by-side system that is big enough for me to get right in and dig and transfer. One bin holds usable compost while the other is in progress. Always make sure that there is a good population of worms in the compost bin to encourage speedy results.

Karon: My secret to composting is exactly what you said: Pile it on! My kids take rabbits and goats for 4-H projects, so we have plenty of manure mixed with straw that we throw on the compost pile along with kitchen scraps, leaves, etc. Late in the spring, when we clean out the barn, we pile the used bedding in the garden to use as mulch between plants. Then in the fall, after everything is harvested, we dig in this mulch. I believe the secret to turning scraps and manure into good useable compost quickly is to mix it with DIRT. The organisms in the soil are ready and willing to do this job. I found that rich soil helps defeat bugs and diseases. The plants simply outgrow the damage!

L: We don't have enough clippings and leaves around my house yet, but what we do use is a lot of kitchen scraps, eggshells, old potting soil, old dead plants, shredded newspaper, and such. We took five crates to create four walls and a base for circulation. Free materials are always a good idea! I read in an herb book that yarrow works well to speed up the composting process. I have also heard that a bit of lime does the job also.

Pete: I put all the usual stuff in my composter but also add dryer lint and dog hair! Grass clippings seem to make it heat up the best though.

Esther Budd: I have a bunny bin -- which is exactly what it sounds like! It is constructed of three pallets nailed together to make a three-sided box with the front opening supported with one 2x4 cross beam. Atop the bin is a "town house" rabbit hutch. The upper section is enclosed to allow for bad weather and sleeping and the middle section holds food and water. Since rabbits won't soil their beds they only relieve themselves in the middle section and their waste falls through the grate cage floor to the compost bin below. The rabbit "fertilizer" really speeds up the decay of garden compost. I like the bin made from pallets because it lets air get to the compost, it was easy to build, and the pallets are free. I also want to encourage people to adopt a rabbit or two from your local humane society because THEY need good homes and YOU need a good garden. You won't regret it, as a rabbit will literally give back all you put into it -- and you and your kids will love them!

Kyle: My condo yard is about 12 feet by 32 feet and doesn't leave much room to compost. I have a small hole dug somewhere in the yard all the time to put in kitchen vegetable trimmings. When the hole is filled with layers of veggies and dirt, I start another one.

Jules: I keep a decorative colander on the cupboard that I throw the compostable kitchen scraps into during the summer and take them out nightly (when I remember!). I also throw in the extra leaves, clippings, and garden weeds (before they go to seed). I try to water it when I remember and turn it at least twice a summer. We have hard, cold winters here "up north" in Minnesota so that is the best secret for breaking things down fast! Let them sit under a 5-foot snowdrift all winter and they are ready to use in the spring, as long as the pile didn't get too deep!

Melissa: My garden and bedding plants receive a blend of grass clippings, newspapers, leaves (from the previous fall), shredded-up tree branches, and any food waste (excluding meats). I do not have a specific box. I usually pick a part of the garden for my "heap" and add to it all winter long. I have organic gardened this way and let me tell you...it works!


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