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Planning for your spring garden!

Winter is coming to a close and spring is not too far away.  For the gardeners in the Melbourne area of Florida, thoughts are quickly turning to spring tulips, flower beds and even perhaps a vegetable garden.  Experienced gardeners know there is one stage that is extremely important in order to have a successful outside garden. This is the planning stage.

* Lack of planning means you miss important planting dates, miss bug infestations and even may mean you miss proper feeding and care of your plants.  So – in order to help out the local gardeners, here are some tips you should follow:

* Now is the time to clean out the garden area.  If you have any dead limbs, leaves or plants, get rid of them.  Dead and decaying plant life can attract all kinds of bugs, which may bring diseases and viruses.

* Add compost or feed to the soil. Blend it in well and let it sit for several months prior to the actual planting.  Compost can be purchased from a nursery, but can also be made in your own backyard with the proper tools.  Prior to adding fertilizer, it is almost always recommended to do a simple soil test to determine which nutrients might be lacking.

* Plan your locations. Some plants do better in full sun, while others may need some shade areas. And certainly, plan any spring growth based upon height of the adult plant.  Taller plants should be planted in the back of the garden, while shorter plants should be planted in the front.

Guard against bugs, but be sure to leave the beneficial ones alone. Bugs such as aphids, which can damage plants and spread viruses should be eradicated right away.  Other bugs, such as the lady bug, should be left alone if at all possible.  Lady bugs do not damage plants and they do eat other bugs that will damage your plants.

You can sometimes guard against bugs or pests during the early season by using row covers.  These covers also guard against late frosts that might damage your young plants.

Don’t forget that some bugs can attack your plants from under the ground, so pay particular attention not just to the health of the plants above ground, but also to the condition of soil and grass cover around the garden.

If you haven’t already started seedlings for tomatoes, celery, peppers or cucumber, now is the time to get those started.  Of course, you can always purchase young plants at a later date from one of the local nurseries.

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