Calgary Herald

Don’t be shy; dig in!

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If you’re new to gardening, it’s easy to get started, says Calgary Horticultu­ral Society president Christina Smith. “Don’t be scared or feel overwhelme­d,” says Smith, who has been gardening for 10 years. “A lot of the informatio­n might seem contradict­ory, and it is a lot about trial and error, but even experience­d gardeners learn that way.”

Smith offers some pointers on things you can do to make your foray into gardening a smooth one.

If you want to grow vegetables, she suggests taking a course in seed starting. “It will make you comfortabl­e with how to plant a seed, and from there you could do almost any kind of growing.”

You could also attend lectures on soil basics, including composting and mulching.

If you are interested in looking after your yard, consider learning the basics of woody plants and pruning. “You can pay to have someone look after your trees and shrubs, but just a little bit of maintenanc­e is easy to do yourself, if you understand the basics,” Smith explains.

The Society’s website at www.calhort.org and its magazine are great resources for Calgary gardeners, and a good way to connect with other gardeners.

“There are some good gardening books and magazines geared toward Calgary or the Prairies,” she says. “You have a better chance of success if you understand the plants that will succeed here, because we have a shorter growing season and a unique climate.”

Smith tends an organic perennial garden with flowers and fruits, as well as herbs and vegetables on an inner-city lot.

“I think it’s good for the soul, being outside and seeing living things sprout in the spring,” she says. “I consider myself a lowmainten­ance gardener. I don’t spend a lot of time weeding, because l use a lot of mulch and compost. It’s not all manicured and perfection, and I’m not out there every day.”

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