Spring is finally here. The sun is shining a little brighter (and warmer too), and the ground is starting to warm up. And with all of that, those of us who garden are beginning to get a little antsy to start putting seeds and plants in the ground and begin growing them. In many parts of the states, it’s still much too early to start planting though. So, what is a anticipatory gardener to do? It’s a great time to begin planning the garden and preparing for the planting season.
Maintenance and Clean-up of your Garden
I like to start with the maintenance and clean-up of the garden area as soon as I’m able. I get to go outside and, while I can’t plant anything, I can begin to prepare for doing so. There’s always some leaves that fall after I rake for the last time in the fall that can be collected. We do most of our growing in containers, so it’s a good time to make sure the dead plants from last year are removed (fall quickly became winter last year and I didn’t get a chance to remove them) from the containers. If you’ve got any gardening structures, like lattices, nets, etc, you can give them a quick once over to make sure that they’re all still in usable condition and don’t need any repairs.
What Will You Grow?
For several years, we’ve been playing with and experimenting in our garden. We’ve been planting some new varieties of plants that we haven’t before (last year we had Eggplant and Brussels Sprouts) and planting some things in different locations than we have before. This year, we might do the opposite and refine what we grow a little bit. There are a few staples that we’ve grown every year that we’ll grow again, like Tomatoes, Potatoes, Green Beans, and Cucumbers. We added some Snow Peas to the garden last year and they did really well, so we’ll be planting more of those this year as well. A couple of crops that we have grown in the past, but all depend on space are Carrots and Onions. We’ve never had a whole lot of success with them, so they might get scrapped to leave more room for more of the other plants. We’ve also got a few smaller containers that we’ve discovered are a little small for most of the stuff we’d like to grow, so we might throw some herbs in those and see what we end up with.
Start Your Seeds Indoors
This is one thing that I’ve really struggled with over the years. For whatever reason, I always end up with most of my seedlings dying before I can transplant them, or with them dying shortly after transplanting. It is much cheaper to buy seeds and then start them indoors for transplanting, than it is to go and buy plants at the nursery, though, so I keep trying. I’ll do so again this year, and we’ll likely supplement with a few plants from the nursery just to be sure we get some strong plants. The growing season (outdoors) here doesn’t really start until late May or early June, so I generally try and hold myself back from planting seeds indoors any sooner than mid to late April. Even that is probably pushing it, and probably should be pushed out to early May.
I find that giving some thought to the garden before you get to the planting stage acts a little like a budget. If you’ve got a plan for what you want to plant, and when, you have something to stick to and keep yourself from going overboard with plants you won’t have room for, or that won’t do well in your garden. It saves you money, and work.
What do you do to begin the gardening season?