General Care

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Cultivating the Garden

If only gardening were just about planting and harvesting. Then we could plant our seeds and transplants, kick back with lemonade in the lounge chair, and return in a few weeks to begin harvesting flowers and vegetables. However, in order to produce top flowers, vegetables, shrubs, and lawns, you'll need to pay attention to your garden and landscape every step of the way. One of the key times to be active in the garden is in spring after planting is finished. Annual weed seeds, such as pigweed and crabgrass, love to germinate in bare spots and newly disturbed soil. Perennial weeds, such as burdock, are getting more rooted in lawns and shrub borders, and many different types of grasses and weeds are encroaching on your garden paths. It's time to take action! A little work now will save you tons of time and trouble later in the season.

Cultivate Before Planting

Cultivation doesn't start when the weeds start growing it starts when yo prepare the seedbed or planting area for your vegetables or flowers. You'll need various hoes, cultivators, spades, and digging forks to create a good seedbed. Once the soil is turned and loosened, smooth the top few inches of soil with a rake or long-handled cultivator, creating a level seedbed. This is particularly important for fine-seeded crops, such as carrots and cosmos, that may have a hard time germinating through crusty soils. Keep the seed bed well watered for best germination.

Cultivate Annual Beds

Once the flowers and vegetables are up and growing, it's critical to keep young weeds under control. A little weeding each day in early summer will mean less work later, trying to battle a weed-filled garden. It means less time fighting weeds and more time picking flowers and vegetables. Using a cultivator or hoe, work the areas between plants. The best time to weed is a few days after a rain. The moisture will encourage the weed seeds to germinate, yet they will still be tender, weak, and easily damaged. Weed in the morning on a sunny day. This will ensure that any weed seedlings you cultivate will die during the heat of the day. Carefully work around young flower and vegetable seedling roots since they're also sensitive to damage at this early stage of growth. Cultivation isn't just for weeding. With a hoe or cultivator, hill up potatoes and corn plants. Hilling potatoes increases the yield of tubers. Hill potatoes once they're 6 inches tall and again 3 weeks later. Hill up soil around corn stalks every 2 to 3 weeks to prevent them from flopping over or "lodging" in the wind.

Cultivate Perennial Beds

Perennial flower gardens and shrubs also need periodic weeding. However, since you're not working the soil as much as you do with an annual bed -- which brings weed seeds to the soil surface to germinate -- perennial beds won't have as many weeds. Usually the biggest problem in more permanent plantings is perennial weeds, such as dandelions, burdocks, and quack grass. These weeds will need to be dug out, often by hand, removing as much of the root system as possible. Use a weeding and planting knife to remove these deep-rooted weeds. Mulching the area around shrubs and flowers after weeding will help prevent new weeds from germinating. Spread a 2- to 3-inch-thick layer of shredded bark, pine straw, or bark chips with a draw hoe. Not only will this help prevent weed growth, the mulch will conserve soil moisture, make for less watering, and give the beds a neat and tidy look.

Lawn weeds are commonly removed by applying herbicides. However, a safer and more long-term control is to create a healthy lawn where weeds can't get a foothold. Mow the lawn grass higher than normal, fertilize and water regularly, and remove dead grass to make your lawn an ocean of green grass. Use a lawn rake or scarifying rake in spring to clean out dead grass and aerate the lawn. Unless annually removed, dead grass can create a layer of thatch that inhibits the growth of the lawn.

Paths made of stones, wood chips, brick, or other materials will also need yearly maintenance. Weeding your garden paths may seem like an odd concept, but often weeds will grow in between bricks on pathways or creep into paths from the garden beds. If not maintained, your garden path can turn into a weed patch. Hand pull individual weeds from mulch paths, maintain a clearly defined path with a lawn edger, and dig out individual weeds between pathway stones with a garden scraper.

Garden of Cultivation

The Garden of Cultivation (Chinese: 艺圃 pinyin: Yì Pǔ ) is one of the best preserved examples of a Ming Dynasty classical garden in Suzhou. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Classical Gardens of Suzhou on the World Heritage List. "Due to its special history, this Garden was virtually unknown before it was listed as a UN World Cultural Heritage site." [1]

How Cultivation Works

The aim of cultivating your soil is to help your plants grow better. Aerated soil allows your plant's roots to get enough oxygen. Soil should also be free of weeds and have good drainage so you don't drown your plants or encourage root rot.

In terms of organic farming, it’s not just about adding nutrients to the soil. It’s about encouraging the life forms within the soil to thrive. Earthworms are the most obvious soil dwellers, and they are needed to process organic matter into rich, fertile soil. Earthworms also keep your soil aerated.

But your soil is also home to billions of beneficial microorganisms such as bacteria, algae, and mold. When these organisms are happy, thriving, and in ideal balance for your agricultural conditions, they turn lifeless dirt into living, nourishing soil.   The right mix of digging up dirt and working in natural amendments helps your plants thrive.

How to safely use a garden cultivator

As with any tool, you should take some safety precautions to ensure that you don’t get injured when using a garden cultivator. Hand, manual, and hitch cultivators are fairly safe to use. But, power cultivators have motors that can cause more unpredictability when cultivating.

Before using your garden cultivator, inspect its blades. Are they all secured and free from any materials? Check for wear and tear, and replace immediately before use, if necessary. Also, read the owner’s manual to ensure you know each step to properly handle the tool.

Then, protect yourself. Wear long sleeves and pants, thick boots, gloves, and protective eyewear when cultivating your garden. This protects you against potential flying debris, like rocks and soil.

When using your cultivator, don’t strain yourself. Allow the machine to move in the direction you’re facing, without forcing it. Use slow, parallel and perpendicular movements, slightly overlapping each line as you move the opposite direction

Watch the video: What is cultivation in Chinese fantasy novels?

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