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Gardening has reached new heights as a favorite pastime, and more gardeners are discovering that raised beds make it easier. What’s not to like about bringing plants to a higher level so you don’t have to bend down and work on your knees? You can grow flowers, herbs and vegetables and work the soil while sitting on a ledge — a major plus for anyone with a bad back or not-so-bendable knees. And you can design and locate the raised garden bed where the growing conditions are best.

While spring is the ideal time to begin digging and growing a traditional vegetable or flower garden, plenty of planning and other tasks can be done at any time of the year. Gardeners spend most of the summer watering, weeding and watching young plants grow. Fall is a good time to plant trees, shrubs, bulbs and some perennials. And winter is a perfect time to start ordering seeds, planning out your rows and getting organized. There’s no wrong time to start — but these tips might make it easier for you!

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There aren’t many don’ts for starting up a milkweed patch, Hasle said, but one plant to avoid is tropical milkweed, a nonnative plant that flowers late in the season. The best garden is one you can sustain, Hasle said. And it can make for a fun family project.

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There’s not a one-size-fits-all monarch garden. Although the Field Museum’s project is still fairly new, there are already some findings after a pilot and pandemic season. Participants sent in weekly reports, including the makeup of their garden, and development of eggs and caterpillars.

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Any behavior that gets attention will continue. Imagine a garden: your child is the rose that needs just the right amount of sunlight and water; the dandelions are the unhelpful behaviors, such as tantrums. If you so much as blink in a dandelion’s direction, you know that you will have a garden full of dandelions. This is why after validating once, the next step is to ignore.

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