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AGRICULTURE REPORT - Home Gardens, Part 1

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This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.

For many people, growing crops on a small piece of land is not a business. For them, a home garden may be an important part of a family's food supply. Or it is simply an enjoyable activity. This week, we will look at ways to grow and improve home gardens.

Sunlight is a garden's most basic need. A garden with unblocked sun from the south is best.

A good place for a garden must have at least six hours of sunlight a day. Eight to ten hours is best. If the garden does not receive at least six hours of light during the growing season, it will not produce a good crop.

The garden should not be near the base of a hill or near a wall. These will block sunlight. They also block fresh air that helps raise the temperature of the soil early in the growing season.

Even if the soil of your garden is not too good, it can be improved. Excellent fertilizer can be made by using the method of composting. Composted food waste and other organic material can make poor soil dark and rich.

Good garden soil must drain well. That means water does not build up and leave the soil too wet to support plants. Turning the soil and adding composted material helps with drainage and permits air to enter the soil.

A garden must receive a good amount of water every week. Too little can, of course, be as harmful as too much. So the garden must be close to water pipes or a natural supply of water.

After choosing the best place, and improved the soil by turning it and adding compost, you can prepare to plant.

In the northern half of the world, planting season starts in March. In the southern half, it begins in November.

Planting season is also a good time to add fertilizer to the soil. This will help the growth of seeds or young plants. Compost is itself a fertilizer. Experts at the North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension say fertilizer should be turned into the soil to a depth of eight to ten centimeters. This tilling permits rooting seeds or plants to use the nutrients immediately.

Next week, we will look at how to plant seeds and how to aid the growth and development of crops.

Is there an agricultural subject you would like to hear about? Tell us. Write to special@voanews.com or VOA Special English, Washington DC 20237 USA.

This VOA Special English Agriculture Report was written by Mario Ritter.

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