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It is about that time of year again, when everyone starts scrambling to get their gardens ready to plant some seeds. Unfortunately, getting plants to grow is not as easy as it may sound. There are many different factors, elements, and conditions that play significant roles in the success of the plants growth. With this being said, below are some gardening hacks and tips to help ease the stress and frustration of constructing and growing a healthy green garden.

Tomato Plants:

Tomatoes are a very common and popular plant people attempt to grow. Although it is not extremely difficult to keep this plant growing, there are some things to consider and steps to follow.

Tomato plants do have a preferable method of water. They do not like being sprayed, therefore when you do water your tomatoes, make sure you are watering them at its roots.

Now there are a few extra things that could be added to the plant to further boost its growth.

1. Baking Soda: sprinkle a little bit at the base of your plant, and it will absorb into the soil andlower the acidity levels to produce sweeter tomatoes.

2. Epsom Salt: tomatoes lack magnesium; therefore, it would be beneficial to add about 1 or 2   tablespoons of the Epsom Salt when you are planting your seeds at the bottom of the planting hole. Make sure you cover it with a thin layer of soil to keep the roots from directly touching the Epson Salt

There are some more things to consider. One being you need to determine if your plant is a Determinate or an Indeterminate.

Determinate plant will grow to a certain size, usually about 3-5 feet tall, and then will stop    growing focusing only on producing tomatoes.

An Indeterminate plant does not have a pre-determined size. It will stop growing when it          eventually freezes in the fall, but will produce tomatoes continually, just not as quick as the Determinate varieties.

Before planting or buying, check the seed packet or do some online research to ensure you are going to plant the type you want.

Lettuce:

Lettuce is a very common and easy vegetable that is grown around this time of spring.

First things first, you need to have good soil to plant your lettuce in. The best soil is nutrient rich and moist. You might even consider adding a fertilizer of nitrogen and potassium to your soil. Just keep in mind, it is recommended to keep the pH level between 6.0 and 6.8

Water water water! Lettuce loves water. If you are experiencing a period of drought and dryness, you should probably water them at least a few times a week. If you are experiencing a period of heavy rainfall, you could probably get away with just watering it about once a week. A drip irrigation system might be a good idea to ensure your lettuce plants are getting enough water throughout the days and weeks.

Some effective yet cost efficient drip irrigation systems could include a drip system made from PVC pipe, a drip system from empty soda bottles (liters), and many more DIY drip irrigation systems to use at home in your garden.

Next you must worry about how much space you are giving your lettuce because each variety of lettuce needs a different amount of space. The amount can range from 6 inches to 18 inches. Before planting your seeds, research the specific type of lettuce you are going to plant to ensure you given them the right amount of space in between each other. Another important factor to consider is when you would like to harvest your lettuce. Some do not mind harvesting a little throughout the lettuces growth, yet some wait to harvest the whole head of lettuce when it has finished growing. Be aware of the temperatures of the regions you live in, because if the temperatures increase rapidly, the lettuce may wilt and die away.

Lettuce is for the most part an extremely healthy plant, however it is important that you are aware and cautious of diseases that your plants can obtain. In particular, keep a close eye for bottom rot, tip burn, and damping off. To reduce the probability of your lettuce getting any diseases, you should rotate your lettuce crops each year so you are not planting your lettuce in the same spot repeatedly.

It is very important to add mulch. It is beneficial in preventing the growth of weeds, and keeping the absorption of water that the lettuce needs.

It is very crucial that you harvest at the right time because if you wait too long, and harvest late, your lettuce will taste not so very good. This is because the older lettuce gives more of a bitter taste. To help make sure you harvest at a good period, you can taste pieces of your lettuce throughout its growth and harvest it when you think the taste is good. You should harvest during the morning to get the best harvested heads of lettuce.

There are a few other things you can add to improve your soil:

1. Banana Skins: They can be added directly to the ground as long as they are cut up in tiny         pieces. Their skin will decompose and all of its micro-organisms will be offered in the soil.

2. Coffee Grounds: They can be added directly to the ground. They work as a general fertilizer. They add organic matter, which improves the drainage, the water retention, and the soil aeration. Through their duration of breaking down, they will continually add nitrogen to the soil, which is very good for the growth of the plant.

Egg Shells: You should rinse out any egg shells you have and let them sit over a duration of a few days to let them dry out. When they become dry, they are now able to be crushed very easily, and this will help them break down quicker when added to the soil. Egg shells improve the drainage, and add calcium. Calcium is good for promoting the growth of the plant and preventing blossom end rot in tomatoes and squash plants. A good and easy way to crush your egg shells would be to put them in an old coffee grinder or food processor. You should then scatter a generous amount around any young seedlings.

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