How to Start Home Gardening in South Dakota (SD) for Beginners: From Scratch for Indoors, Outdoors, Raised Beds, Backyards, and Containers

Many people throughout the globe find pleasure in maintaining their gardens. Growing something from seed and eating the fruits of your labor can be quite rewarding. The beauty of a garden isn’t limited to its location; if you don’t have the space or the weather for a spectacular outside garden, you can also create one inside your house.

How to Start Home Gardening in South Dakota (SD) for Beginnerss
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Below we learn home gardening in South Dakota, different types of home gardens for SD, how to begin a backyard home garden in SD, how to begin a container home garden in SD, how to begin an indoor home garden in SD, about the planting zones of South Dakota, and different vegetables for SD home gardens.

How to start home gardening in South Dakota (SD) for beginners

When should I plant my garden in South Dakota?

Check the back of the seed package for planting instructions. There are two main categories of vegetables, those that thrive in temperatures between 40 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit and those that require temperatures of at least 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit to grow. Greens for salads, peas, radishes, beets, cruciferous vegetables (including broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower), and root vegetables (like carrots) are all examples cool-season crops. 

Most of them can thrive in cooler temperatures and can thus be planted between early and mid-spring. Cucumbers, squash, and crops that thrive in the warmer months include tomatoes, peppers, beans, pumpkins, and watermelons. The risk of frost should be eliminated before planting.

What zone is South Dakota in for planting?

South Dakota has hot and humid summers and dry, cold winters with frequent ice storms and blizzards due to its continental climate. The average high in January is much below freezing, while the average joy in the summer is well over 100. Comparatively semiarid conditions prevail in the state’s northwest, where annual precipitation averages about 15 inches, while the state’s southeast can get as much as 25 inches in certain years. The Black Hills get about 30 inches of precipitation annually, the most of any region in South Dakota.

Hail and high winds are common in summer thunderstorms. In the east of the state is a region known as “tornado alley,” Each year, about thirty tornadoes hit that area. Hardness zones can be quickly known using an interactive planting zone map. Grow zones 3b through 5a are all represented in South Dakota. Gardeners can use growing zones, also known as planting zones, to better understand which plants and flowers will thrive in their area.

Plant hardiness in the winter is another consideration that a zone map might aid. Moreover, they advise you on the best planting times. Grow only plants that are hardy in South Dakota’s planting zone, or a lower zone, for the greatest results. In zone 3b, for instance, you can safely grow anything graded for zones 1 through 3. To avoid losing your plants throughout the winter, avoid planting anything that requires a warmer climate zone.

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Fertilizing Garden
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South Dakota is a veritable cornucopia of options for fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Vegetables and flowers native to South Dakota, such as black-eyed Susans, yarrow, harebell, goldenrod, and hounds tongue, do very well in gardens elsewhere. You can grow almost any kind of vegetable you choose. Vegetables of many kinds will flourish, including asparagus, beets, carrots, celery, radish, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach, tomatoes, and many more.

When should I plant tomatoes in SD?

You shouldn’t plant tomatoes outside until late spring or early summer since they are sensitive to frost and thrive in temperatures above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Temperatures between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 65 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit at night are optimum for maximum yield. Many early determinate cultivars can set fruit at temperatures as low as 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit; some have even been developed to endure the greater temperatures in the summer. 

More fruits can be produced by tomatoes when temperatures are high. Still, when temperatures rise over 80 degrees Fahrenheit, pollen production is stunted, and fruit development is reduced, particularly when humidity levels are also high. Temperatures at night (below 72 degrees Fahrenheit) will help mitigate the heat during the day. High temperatures exceeding 95 degrees Fahrenheit prevent the fruit from ripening and coloring normally.

Tomatoes planted before the typical final day of spring frost carry a higher risk of being damaged, but the potential for earlier harvests might be worth it. There are a variety of measures gardeners can take to shield their plants against frost. The most typical include constructing makeshift greenhouses out of founding materials, such as empty soda bottles or coffee tins. To avoid damaging your plant from too much heat, ensure enough ventilation.

If a container is placed on top of the plant throughout the day, it might overheat. Catalogs, garden stores, and nurseries sell plant shelters. Insulating materials that are see-through or transparent are used in some of them. Some people keep plants warm at night or on chilly days by enclosing them in a layer of water that collects and retains the plant’s heat. See what works best by experimenting with different approaches on separate plants.

What is South Dakota’s climate?

The climate of South Dakota is continental, with winters that are cold and dry and summers that are warm and semi-humid. The average high temperature in the state during the summer is often around 90 °F (32 °C), while the average low temperature at night is around 60 °F (16 °C). It is not uncommon for the temperature to get beyond 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) in South Dakota numerous times throughout the summer.

Temperatures in January rarely rise above freezing and rarely go below 10 degrees Fahrenheit (-12 degrees Celsius) over most of the state, making for a chilly winter. South Dakota’s yearly precipitation varies from practically dry in the northwest (about 15 inches or 380 mm) to semi-humid in the southeast (around 25 inches or 640 mm), with the most precipitation concentrated in a small region around Lead in the Black Hills (nearly 30 inches or 760 mm) on average.

Hail, lightning, and strong winds are common summertime occurrences in South Dakota. South Dakota has an annual average of 30 tornadoes, with most occurring in the state’s eastern region, often called Tornado Alley. Winter blizzards and ice storms are common.

Can you grow vegetables in South Dakota?

South Dakota is a true buffet of possibilities regarding the fruits, vegetables, and flowers that can be grown there. Vegetables and flowers native to South Dakota, such as yarrow, harebell, black-eyed Susans, goldenrod, and hounds tongue, are particularly successful in gardens in other parts of the country. There will be carrots, celery, asparagus, beets, radish, Brussels sprouts, spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, and more.

How do I start a backyard home garden in SD?

Choosing a suitable place

Having a garden near the home allows the gardener to more readily monitor the plants’ development and provide them the attention they need. Having the garden near to the home also makes it simpler to grab a few ingredients for a fast salad, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, or radishes. Also, it’s easier to find water close to structures like homes. Poor soil, poor drainage, shade, or a lack of available space are all reasons to consider relocating the garden.

Vegetables that only need a small space might be planted close to the home, while others that need a greater area could be put elsewhere. Flower beds can benefit from adding peppers and other visually appealing veggies. Most bush vegetables can be grown in pots, and vining plants like cucumbers can be trellised against a wall. Most vegetables require 7 to 8 hours of daily sunlight.

Plants can become tall and generate plenty of leaves, but they won’t produce many fruits or vegetables if there aren’t enough hours of sunshine. During the warmest portion of the summer, leafy crops (like lettuce) can be planted in shadier regions. Some windbreaks should be installed if the garden is in a windy location. Ineffective if planted too near a garden (within 50 feet of full-grown trees), trees and shrubs compete for soil moisture and nutrients and cast shadows.

Many trees have root systems that are twice as wide as they are tall, and those roots will swiftly re-grow if they are tilled up. The loss of water and nutrients to neighboring trees and shrubs can be mitigated by watering and fertilizing the garden more often, but only if the plants are not casting too much shade on the plot. The roots of black walnut trees emit a chemical that is toxic to tomatoes and other garden plants, so it’s best to keep your garden at least a few feet away from these trees.

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Small Home Garden Plants
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Alternate windbreak options include snow barriers or planting three to four rows of sweet corn, millet, or sunflowers, particularly in more compact regions. Plant a single or double row of Sudan grass to block the wind on the leeward side of the garden. Vegetables require one inch of water weekly. If water isn’t conveniently available, it will be hard to water as needed. It is possible to utilize a drip watering system with a water tank if you are far from a water supply, but you will need to refill the tank regularly.

Soil preparation for your backyard home garden 

Vegetables can’t be grown without proper soil preparation. It all comes down to the size of the garden and the tools at your disposal when deciding whether to plow, rototill, or spade the soil. Even while plowing and spading can be done in the spring, it is often better to do it in the autumn to avoid waiting for the soil to dry out after snow melts or rains. Dig into the ground approximately eight inches.

Soil compaction and clod formation result from working moist soil; thus, avoid doing so whenever possible. However, if the soil is excessively dry, it might be challenging to work and require irrigation and drying time before being tackled. Before planting, if necessary, loosen the soil one more time by working it with a rake, cultivator, or rototiller. However, avoid rototilling too often since this breaks down the soil’s structure.

When working with a small area, it is sometimes sufficient to merely shovel the soil in the planting row and then break it up with a rake or hoe. If you have compost, you can water the area where you wish to put the beds, cover it with newspaper, and then compost. There is no need for spades or a rototiller. Soil amendments with high-quality organic matter (OM) may improve crop yields in almost every South Dakota county.

Beneficial soil organisms benefit from it, and the soil’s texture, water-holding capacity, aeration, drainage, and fertilizer efficiency are enhanced. The optimal percentage of organic matter in soil is about 5 percent. Plant and animal waste, compost, peat moss, and other organic materials are only some of the sources. An integral part of sustainable agriculture, animal dung is a rich source of organic material and minerals. Incorporate manure from animals into the soil in the autumn.

Old, well-rotted manure or packed or composted manures are preferable to fresh animal manures, which can injure plants and contain hazardous pathogens or weed seeds. Please don’t use pet poop since it might contain dangerous bacteria and viruses. The decomposing plant matter is known as compost.

It is common practice to add a small quantity of soil or completed compost with a nitrogen source to hasten the decomposition process. As a byproduct of brewing, coffee grounds are a rich source of nitrogen that, when added to a compost pile at a rate of 5–20%, greatly improves the quality of the finished product. 

While compost is an excellent alternative to animal manure, it may not provide enough nitrogen to meet your needs regarding nutritional content, soil structure, and water-holding capacity. Most household compost heaps do not become hot enough to kill viruses; thus, infected plants should not be composted. This is why it’s important only to put yard waste in compost bins and to prevent attracting animals by not putting in any food scraps.

Start planting your backyard garden. 

You can’t grow a thriving garden without high-quality seeds or sturdy transplants. Compared to the value of the veggies harvested, the cost of the seed or transplant is negligible. Good seed is devoid of contaminants, germinates quickly, and lives up to its billing. Only buy seed from a reputable brand if you want to be sure it’s clean and healthy. The viability of seeds can be evaluated by spreading a sample (often ten seeds) on a wet paper towel, rolling up the towel, sealing the bag to keep moisture, and storing it at room temperature for a few days.

Once every few days, unfold the cloth to inspect the soil for signs of germination. When planting a seed, ensure the soil is moist but not soaked. After the seed has been covered, gently compact the soil (do not pack). Because of the increased contact between the seed and soil, germination will be quicker and more uniform. Soil crusting after watering can be avoided by scattering grass clippings, compost, straw, or pine needles over the seeded row if the soil is dense (i.e., contains a lot of clay).

Water carefully to avoid dislodging the seed, but thoroughly saturate the soil where it was placed. Put a label or stake next to each kind for easy identification. Remember that hot, windy days are not ideal for transplanting young plants. New vegetation is better able to adapt to cloudy, chilly weather. Unprepared seedlings transplanted into extreme heat and sunshine or high winds may suffer from “sunburn.” It’s important to avoid disturbing the root system and soil too much while setting transplants outside.

Dig a hole wider than the root ball to match the plant’s container depth. Tomatoes can be planted at leaf level. Fill air spaces between the plant’s roots and soil before thoroughly watering. It’s possible that acclimating plants to the new, much greater light circumstances with the aid of some type of shade might reduce the amount of stress they would experience. If you want your plants to flourish, water them often at first, then less often as their roots expand.

Fertilize your backyard home garden 

Plants need varied and complete nutrition to thrive. To meet the nutritional needs of garden plants, fertilizer is routinely applied. It’s possible that investing in the proper application of fertilizer to vegetable crops would provide the highest financial return per dollar spent. Fertilizer application requires caution. Excessive vegetative growth and lower yields of fruiting vegetables might result from applying too much nitrogen.

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Salad Garden
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The soil pH can be raised, or the plant’s ability to absorb other nutrients can be impaired if one or more of these substances is in excess. Overuse of micronutrients is not only unnecessary but harmful. In most cases, the demand for supplemental nitrogen sources can be reduced but not eliminated by adding organic matter such as compost, particularly if this organic matter is provided in significant quantities or over several years.

Organic fertilizers like fish emulsion, manures, and blood or bone meal can be used instead to reduce synthetic chemicals. Their nutritional concentration is often lower than that of chemical fertilizers. Therefore more of them will be needed. In addition to adding organic matter and sometimes even trace levels of micronutrients, their usage is generally beneficial to soil structure and health. 

Applying organic materials early, even in the autumn before planting, allows soil bacteria time to break down the materials and release the nutrients the plants will consume. High carbon resources, such as dry leaves or straw, can deplete available nitrogen when soil bacteria break them down; thus, they should be composted separately or supplied with higher nitrogen materials to compensate.

Plants easily absorb the nitrogen in fish meals or emulsion and blood meals. Remember to read the fertilizer label before making a purchase. It’s common practice to apply some as grains and others as solutions to water. Fertilizers sold commercially must disclose the percentage concentrations of all nutrients. Soil fertilizers are most effectively incorporated into the soil when applied before planting.

If a soil test reveals that your veggies need more nitrogen fertilizer after they’ve sprouted, you can use it as a side dressing. It’s best to wait until the plants have started to develop fruit before applying a side dressing to them. If you fertilize too soon, you can have fewer or no fruits.

Water your backyard home garden 

A lack of moisture typically hinders vegetable production in South Dakota. Watering has the potential to boost productivity and quality. Additionally, drought-sensitive crops like head lettuce and cauliflower can be grown effectively, and harvest time can be accelerated. It’s no secret that maintaining a steady water supply is crucial to plant health and development. Most vegetables need between 1 and 1 1/2 inches of water each week to thrive.

To know when to water, you should inspect the soil since productivity and quality can suffer long before wilting becomes obvious. Unlike standard garden hoses, soaker hoses are designed to slowly release water via microscopic holes and fissures in the hose’s exterior. You can put the hose along the row to water the plants more efficiently. However, they only make sense for rows of plants. Make sure the hoses don’t become clogged by just using clean water.

A variety of drip systems are available for use in the home garden. There are the simplest, just bottles with holes punched in the bottom, and the most complex include timers and pressure reducers attached to a sink. Drip watering systems use tubes with tiny perforations (emitters) that slowly release water. Emitters can be placed by the user in certain systems, although in most cases, they are pre-installed in the tube at distances ranging from 4″ to 36″.

Most drip tubes can be used for many years before being replaced. Once again, these methods are most effective with rows of similar crops. Some garden soils, particularly those with high clay content, can’t handle the high water pressure of some lawn sprinklers. Allowing the water to sink in by starting and pausing the sprinkler at regular intervals is the best way to ensure that the desired amount of water is applied. Water can be dispersed more gradually, consistently, and over a wider area with the help of rotary sprinklers.

These sprinklers are adaptable so that you can use them with either a garden hose or a length of aluminum pipe. Make sure there is an overlap between watered regions when using sprinklers. If you want to save water and keep your plants healthy, you shouldn’t water them during the hottest, windiest parts of the day. However, you shouldn’t water them either if they won’t have time to dry out for several hours since moist foliage encourages leaf diseases.

One hot summer day can cause soil moisture losses of up to a quarter of an inch in South Dakota due to evaporation and transpiration. Crop development and output can be stunted far before wilting becomes visible if you wait until the crop appears dry and wilted to determine whether to water. It is possible, however, for even well-watered plants to show indications of wilt, such as leaf rolling, on very hot days. If enough water is in the soil, these plants will recover overnight. If you don’t mulch your soil, it will dry up soon in the sun.

The lowest two to six inches of soil need to be checked for moisture using a shovel or trowel by gardeners. A person should be able to roll moist soil into a ball in their palm unless the soil is extremely sandy. When clay soils dry out too much, they become very brittle, and the surface sometimes shows evidence of deep fissures. In the absence of rainfall of at least 1 to 112 inches and falling in quantities of more than 1/3 inch each time, it can be necessary to water at least once weekly. During mild weather, as opposed to times of high heat and wind, it is evident that less water will be needed.

How do I start a container home garden in SD?

Choosing the right potting soil

Starting with the wrong soil is a typical error when cultivating in containers. Some people believe that all you need to do to grow plants in a container is to transfer soil from your outside garden. Regular garden soil is not ideal for container gardening; a potting mix should be used instead. Once you know what plants you intend to grow, you can find the optimal soil combination for them.

Many soil and potting mixes can be found at your neighborhood garden shop or home improvement store. It can be rather costly to fill a big container with soil. Planting a tree or huge shrub in a large pot requires much soil since the plant will eventually grow roots reaching out of the urn. You can save money by using “filler” at the bottom of the container when planting blooming annuals with shallow roots. 

Crushed aluminum cans, non-biodegradable packing peanuts, or plastic bottles are examples of inert materials that can serve the same purpose of facilitating drainage while being environmentally benign. On top of the filler, place a layer of landscape fabric, then cover that with potting soil. If you intend on moving the container around, this is a cost-effective and weight-reducing move.

Choosing the right containers 

Numerous varieties of plants may be grown in containers. Everything relies on how creative you can be (and your budget). It’s important to remember that not all containers have to be floor-based. The plant container possibilities are almost endless, from old whiskey barrels to delicate teacups.

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Verify that the soil combination is suitable and that the container has enough drainage. Keep in mind that potting soil capacity decreases with container size. As a result, maintaining an appropriate soil moisture level becomes more crucial, as there will be less space for mistakes.

Take care of drainage.

Keeping pots well hydrated is a common concern, but over watering may cause problems, too. Even plants aren’t immune to waterlogging. One of the most crucial things you can do to ensure your container gardens thrive and survive is to use containers with adequate drainage. Plants in plastic containers are more likely to rot than those in clay ones. Plastic does not allow moisture to evaporate, but clay does. Ensure the pot has drainage holes (or drill some) so that water doesn’t collect at the bottom.

Select the right plants for your container home garden 

The plants used in container gardens might have a functional purpose (such as growing vegetables or herbs), or they can serve only as a living aesthetic. Is it more of a dramatic or harmonic effect you’re after? Consider the texture, size, color, and maintenance requirements of the plants you’re considering. When choosing plants, keep the following in mind:

Six to eight hours of sunshine daily is ideal for growing vegetables and herbs. Plants with comparable light needs are easier to care for and provide a more unified aesthetic in a decorative container garden. Don’t combine plants that need partial shade with those that need full sun in a single pot.

How do I start an indoor home garden in SD?

Choosing a location for your garden is the next step after settling on what you want to grow. The quality and quantity of available light are perhaps the most crucial factor. Researching what your specific plant species demands in light intensity and duration are a good idea. You shouldn’t place a plant that needs full light in a room with little sunlight because it will die. Fruits and vegetables, in general, will need the most light, while flowers and herbs will demand anything from very little to a great deal.

To get the best development out of the plant you’ve chosen to grow, you’ll need to provide it with a certain quantity of light. Although many plant species need eight or more hours of sunlight daily, some can thrive with far less. To ensure your plant’s success, it is essential to learn about its specific requirements. Plants thrive when placed in a sunny spot near a window. Be mindful that certain plants prefer indirect light and can begin to wilt if exposed directly to the sun.

Those without access to natural sunshine or who wish to enlarge their harvest may install artificial lights. A wide selection is available that attempts to mimic varying real-world light levels and intensities. Again, you must research to determine which kind of light is best for the plant you want to cultivate. Keep the light at the proper distance and turn it on for the appropriate period to ensure your plant’s best growth. As they don’t become too hot, LED lights don’t need to be further than 12 inches away from a plant to avoid burning it.

It will be burnt if the plant is too close to a heat-emitting light. People who use their growth lights often might consider purchasing a light timer. The lights can be turned on and off automatically, creating a more natural atmosphere with the assistance of this simple gadget. It’s also helpful for the gardener who tends to forget things. Think about how big you want your plant to become, too. Growing containers for plants vary from little cups to massive planters.

Before making a final decision, measure the available space to ensure the plant’s dimensions are appropriate. The typical range of growth for most plants is. Think about the time and money you’ll spend maintaining rapidly developing plants. Many plants can be kept from reaching their full potential in growth, although doing so often needs extra care and attention. It may not be the most excellent idea to acquire one of these fast-growing plants if you want a more low-maintenance strategy.

Now that you’ve chosen and planted your plants, you should do everything possible to keep them in the best possible condition. This entails following a routine of watering, maybe fertilizing, and inspecting for problems. The beautiful thing about growing plants is that they give visible clues when something is amiss. If your leaves are wilting, they might be from too much or too little water. It might also signify that it isn’t receiving enough light or the right kind.

You should quickly search for the symptoms to determine the potential reasons before taking action if you find that your plant is sick. If starting your garden from scratch, consider that a seed has different requirements than a mature plant. In most cases, seed or seedling will have different water or light needs than a mature plant. Remember this, and be prepared to make adjustments as the sapling grows.

It’s also worth noting that when working from scratch, there’s less room for mistakes than when working from a seed. It’s possible to kill a seedling with the same carelessness you’d show a mature plant, but it’s more likely that you’ll kill a seedling than a mature plant. Watch them closely. All plant life needs water to thrive. The key distinction is that various plant varieties have vastly differing watering requirements. Water when the soil is dry to the touch, and learn what your plants need.

Most plants are hardy enough to survive the occasional neglect (or over/under watering) from their caretaker. Don’t make it a regular thing or anything. Indoor gardeners have the same challenges as their outside counterparts regarding pests. Many kinds of insects and other pests can cause significant damage to your crops. Many pests can rapidly reproduce and spread, so it’s crucial to know the early warning signs of an infestation.

The obvious presence of insects is the first warning sign of a pest issue. They could be in the soil, on the stem, in the leaves, or in any other part of the plant. The absence of visible insects should not be used as evidence against their presence. Also, watch out for any plants or patches of plants that seem to be ill. This might be anything from abnormal leaf color to leaf holes to physical harm to the plant itself.

If you suspect a bug, conduct some research since the specific symptoms can vary depending on the issue. Insects and other pests are attracted to certain plant species for unique reasons. Learning about the most prevalent problems plaguing your chosen plant might help you identify the culprit. This is the situation, mainly when the harm is obvious but the pests are not. Another crucial step is fertilizing your plants. This is particularly important for container houseplants since the soil loses nutrients as plants use them.

Adding little fertilizer every once in a while is far more manageable than replacing the soil. Most of the several fertilizers available now are good. It is recommended that organic ones be used inside since they are less likely to cause harm to the plants and the people using them. Composting at home is another option for producing nutrient-rich fertilizer. But please be aware that it is decomposing matter and frequently carries a smell. Due to this, it’s not ideal for usage indoors. Fertilizer use depends on the plant species you’re growing.

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Garden Pots
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As a rule of thumb, indoor plants should be watered around once a month. However, this is not always the case. It’s important to know when and how much fertilizer to use on your plant, but you shouldn’t overdo it. Using a non-organic fertilizer, which might cause the plant to cook, need extra care.

Keeping a plant healthy requires more than just adding fertilizer to the soil. In addition to the loss of nutrients, soil compaction can impede water movement, which can have serious consequences. For this reason, it’s crucial to repot your plant periodically. Once a year is usually plenty. As the seasons change, it’s an excellent opportunity to repot your plant inside and give it a new soil mixture.


The time has come to put this information to use and begin your gardening endeavors. There is no substitute for experience; thus, you should not be reluctant to try new things or to seek clarification if you get confused. Go out and make that perfect garden! There is no bad time to begin the rewarding pastime of gardening in your backyard.


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