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Preparing soil for planting a garden

Nanette Asked

We are first time gardeners and need all kinds of beginner information from preparing soil, when to plant, what plants are easy to grow and what plants should or should not be planted together, what type of spray to keep away insects. Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks, Nanette.

The Gardener’s Answer

Hi, Nanette: This is very exciting! And you are asking all the right questions. A healthy garden starts with healthy soil. Having your soil tested is an important step in knowing how to amend and improve nutrients, pH, and drainage. The Nelson County Cooperative Extension Service  is a wonderful resource for you. The horticulture agent will be able to give you instructions on having your soil tested and research-based information/publications on all things gardening. It is important to know soil conditions, available sunlight, and space before purchasing any plants. It is always good to have a budget and a plan sketched out with measurements and growing conditions taken into consideration. Do you want an edible garden or more of an ornamental one with trees, shrubs, perennials, and annuals? Every plant has its own specific growth habits, disease resistance, and desired growing conditions. Think about this as you make your plant selections. A well-planned garden has year-round interest. Start by having your soil tested and sketch out an idea of what you want in your garden. Kentucky has a relatively long growing season. Spring is upon us, and the soil is warming up. It is time for cool season vegetables, annuals, trees, shrubs, and perennials. Wait until early May for summer annuals and warm season crops. The following link is a publication on growing vegetables in Kentucky:

The next link is an article published by Kentucky Living on home gardening:

I hope this gives you a good starting point. Happy gardening!

Angie Oakley

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