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[[ | Link to me]]

[Hmmm ... You start as a personal essay - stay with that perspective, otherwise it turns into a list of tips. Then the linking might work if you do more than just link - that is, the links should comment on your work, not the other way around. mcm]

=====Minnesota (or Northwoods) Gardening=====

Growing up in Belleview, Florida was a paradise for me. The temperatures were constantly above forty degrees and the vegetation bloomed even in the winter time. I remember the garden we had in the front of our lawn. It wasn't very spacious but it grew a variety of flowers. Now that I live in Bemidji, Minnesota the scenery change is consistently jolting. I had never known what snow was like or the drastic death the landscape endures annually.

I never knew that I would forget the color green or how the grass smells in the summer heat. So, every August I ingrain as much stimuli as possible. Trying to store away every smell, every sight, every feeling of summer that I can. Around February, when the grass is still buried, I can't even imagine the beauty of spring.

However, this year is different. I've always wanted to create my own garden. I've always wanted a flower garden with [[ | Bleeding Hearts]], skyscraper hydrangeas and burgeoning rose bushes. I've wanted to plant peach trees for me and cherry trees for my mother. This is the year that I finally take Florida out of my heart and nurture it in the Earth.


===Learn Before You Plant===

I've done some research about the zone in which I live in. Apparently, I live in zone 3b which doesn't have a very long growing period for plants. The estimated extreme temperature for my zone is anywhere from -35 to -30 in the winter time. That's way too cold!

Thanks to the [[ | National Gardening Association]] (NGA) anyone can look up their regional zone. The [[ | USDA Hardiness Zone Map]] is a type of map that was developed to catalog critical climate information such as rainfall and the year-round temperatures. The USDA map is the most used in North America. It's not a perfect map but it is beneficial for the Eastern United States.

Thanks to them I know a little bit more about what plants might be able to grow up here. As I mentioned before, I live in zone 3b. You might ask me what is a [[ | zone]]? A zone is a tool that gardeners use which shows the climate of an area. It helps to find plants that can take up permanent residence in your garden year-after-year.

According to the [[ | Old Farmer's Alamanac]] there are at least twenty-seven fruit and vegetable bearing plants that can be grown in Bemidji. These plants range from apples to tomatoes, and from peas to watermelons. There are sixteen decorative plants that I can choose from posted on their site. For flower choices, I have decided to attempt to grow hydrangeas, lilacs, and tulips.

I've been looking into the type of fertilizers that are best for gardens. [[ | Organic fertilizer]] is best for your garden because it doesn't have synthetic materials or pesticides in it. A couple of examples would be worm castings, manure from livestock, post-harvest crop residues, or even composted plant and animal remains. However, [[ | worm castings]] are said to be the richest natural fertilizer. They stimulate plant growth more than any other natural product on the market.

There are videos on youtube that shows people how to make their own worm castings if you're not interested in buying the end product. It's important to maintain a healthy soil. So, at least once a year a pH test should be done. This is important for me when I'm about to plant my hydrangeas. An acidic soil (pH below 6) will make the flowers bluer. An alkaline soil (pH above 6) will make the flowers pinker.

A healthy soil also determines the lifespan of your garden. Remember to check your pH!


===Garden Fairytale or Delectable Edibles?===

There are two different kinds of garden. The kind which bears edibles and the kind that indulges the senses. Before you begin planting you have to make important decisions on what you want out of your garden. I always had the dream of walking through a plethora of flowers.

I want both kinds of gardens. I love the look of beautiful flourishing flowers but I'm a practical person. I want to reap some rewards from my garden besides pride. I have plans to grow [[ |blueberries]], [[ | raspberries]], [[ | strawberries]], [[ | broccoli]], [[ | tomatoes]], and [[ | watermelon]]. I've chosen plants that I'll continually use even after growing season. I would plant onions but I don't always cook with them.

[[ | I would like to can blueberries.]] [[ | Make jam out of my raspberries.]] But most importantly, I would like to make [[ | homemade strawberry wine.]] It has always been a mini obsession of mine to make my own wine. I've been in local stores where they sell wine and beer kits. Right next to these kits are clean bottles to use when you're ready. I would love to give my own wine as a gift to a family member.


===Plan a Garden Setup===

It's important to know how much space you have to work with because it may determine the kinds of plants you can buy. I don't have a lot of room in my yard for a huge spacious garden. However, I have chosen a few plants from both categories and planned out a design for them.

Before you plant the seeds of your choice you need to section off your garden. Decide how much room you will dedicate to your garden and sketch out a design. After this is done the heavy work begins. You'll have to clear the area, cut out you design, till the ground, and do weed removal. The steps you have to take before planting your garden will be the hardest part. It's labor intensive and requires a lot of dedication.

When the seeds are planted to their individual depth, layer some fertilizer or worm castings over them. Water the seeds gently. Avoid drowning them. The garden soil, water, and sun will be the deciding factors on your plant's life. However, regular maintenance will need to be done on the garden to prevent weeds from choking the plants.

If you keep your eye on your goals, the hard work you put into your garden will feel well worth it!

===Photo Links===
[[ | Cypress Botanical Gardens]]
[[ | Nurturing Hands]]

link to zones: [[ | NGA]]
gardening zones: [[ | Bonnie plants]]
plant hardiness: [[ | USDA]]
best plants: [[ | U of M's book]]
Old Farmer's Almanac: [[ | Zone 3 Plants]]
[[ | Best Fertilizer for Garden]]
[[ | Organic Fertilizers]]
[[ | Worm Castings]]
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