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Start Planning Your Garden Now – Seriously, Right Now - Quicken Loans Zing BlogDo your top New Year’s resolutions include saving money, eating healthier and losing weight? What if I told you there’s one thing you can do that will help you achieve all three? Seems to good to be true, right?

So, what is this magic pill that will cure all your woes? Well, it’s not exactly a pill. It’s a garden. Yup, a garden, and it doesn’t have to be a Zen garden either. Just a plain, old-fashioned vegetable patch will do.

Don’t just take my word for it, though. Check out what the experts at North Dakota State University and WebMD have to say.

Are you ready to start a garden now? Not sure where or how to start? No problem! I have a few tips to help get you going.

Pick out your plants
What do you want to grow? How much do you want to grow? How much gardening space do you have? These are a few questions to consider.

Maybe you want to grow your favorite veggies to save some money, or maybe you’d like to grow a theme garden. Last year I set aside a corner of my garden to grow plants just for homemade salsa. There are many garden options out there, so plan one that works for your needs.

Once you figure out which plants you want, make a list and start researching them. One site I use that offers great gardening information is SmartGardener. It pretty much plans everything for you and breaks it down step by step.

MotherEarthNews also has some great information to help you start your garden. Experts at your local garden center or greenhouse are also valuable resources.

Don’t get discouraged if you read a particular plant might not grow well in your area. I successfully grew habanero and Black Cuban peppers in the Detroit area – thousands of miles from their ideal growing conditions. Growing these plants takes a bit more care and attention but are totally worth the challenge.

Plan and plot carefully
My major mistake last year was that I had more plants than space to work with. For example, heirloom tomato roots need space to spread out. In fact, my former coworker, who’s grown heirlooms for several years, noted they can spread as far as 15–30 feet into the ground. I didn’t heed this warning and planted my plants close together. As a result, I didn’t get as much fruit as I had hoped to harvest.

An interesting concept I learned a lot about last year was companion planting – planting two plants together to naturally repel insects. For example, panting basil next to tomatoes, aside from smelling amazing, repels flies and other nasty bugs.

The moral of the story here is planning out your garden carefully will protect your plants and ensure you get the most out of each one.

Learn about organic fertilizers
For hundreds of years, people have used natural fertilizers and pest repellants in their gardens. Chemical-based fertilizers and repellants are expensive – not to mention they may contain toxic liquids. Why buy expensive, potentially hazardous fertilizers for your garden when you might have something at home that will work just as well?

If natural fertilizers worked for people for hundreds of years, they’re good enough for me. Plus, I’m not a big fan of putting anything in my garden that looks like radiator fluid.

Gather your supplies
Get soil, seeds and starter pots together now.. I recommend getting natural starter pots because they’ll break down and fertilize the soil when you plant them in the garden with your seedlings still inside. This appeals greatly to my lazy side – no plastic pots to remove and dispose of.

Clear out a warm, sunny spot
Lastly, make room next to a window so your plants will get plenty of sun and warmth to germinate. You may find that you need extra warmth when you start your seedlings, so make sure you have a heating pad handy that you can place underneath the flat of pots.

Give gardening a try this year! Not only can you knock out three of your New Year’s resolutions, you can also reduce your carbon footprint and teach yourself the valuable lesson of how much work it really takes to get food to your table.

Will you start a garden this year? Share your plans with other Zing readers!


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