How to Start Your Garden This Spring
Gardening is a great way to put fresh food on your table, and gardening will often save you money.
Psychologists know that gardening gives your mental health a boost. There are many different things that you can easily grow in your garden, depending on your conditions.
Know Your Plants
The first thing that you should do is get to know the plants that grow well in your area. Often, you can find an experienced gardener who would love to get a new gardener started.
You may also want to head to the library to see what information they have on local gardening conditions. You may also find that there is a community garden club in your area, and it can be a wealth of great information. You need to consider what type of soil you have and how well it drains.
Depending on your specifics, you may need to mix in organic matter to make the soil looser for tender roots to break through the soil. You may also need to adjust your garden’s drainage. If a garden has not grown on that spot for a year or more, then you will need to till the ground.
Decide How Involved You Want to Be
Some people enjoy spending many hours every day in the garden while others want to take a hands-off approach.
It is vital to consider how involved you want to be before you get started. When choosing plants, choose those requiring full sun if you want to be more engaged and those that grow well in the shade if you want to be less involved.
Full sun means a plant needs 6 hours of sunlight or more a day, and partial sun generally means a plant needs 3 to 6 hours. In order to know for sure, you must track the amount of sun an area gets throughout the growing season. A sunny spot in early spring may get less sunlight when nearby trees fully blossom.
If you want to get an early start on your gardening project, then build cold frames. Build a simple box from wood that has a lid. Put plexiglass in the top so that the sun can get through.
Then, put your plants inside. On days when there might be a frost, close the lid and cover the box with an old blanket to keep your plants from freezing. As an alternative, you can start plants in pots and transplant them later when the chances of cold weather are over in your area.
There are several types of vegetables that you do not even need to transplant later that grow well in pots, including potatoes, chard, lettuce, and bush tomatoes.
Prep the Soil
If you are going to grow plants in the ground, then it is essential to prepare the soil. Start by getting a soil test run to see if your soil has the correct pH balance. Most vegetables grow best when the pH balance is between 6.0 and 7.0, but there are some exceptions.
Carrots, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, and cauliflower do best when the pH balance is between 5.5 and 6.0. Other vegetables, like artichokes, asparagus, and beans, do better when the pH balance is between 7.0 and 7.5. If the area has a lot of weeds, then till the ground before planting to kill the weeds.
It is essential to decide what types of seeds you want to plant. Growing heirloom seeds allow you to save the seeds to grow another year.
Gardeners have specifically developed hybrid seeds to be hardier and pest resistant, but they will not produce the same type of plant the next year if you try saving the seeds.
Non-GMO seeds mean that no chemicals were used on the parent plants. Regardless of the kind of seeds that you choose, make sure that you plant them according to the package directions.
One of the next things that you need to consider is controlling weeds. If you do not have the time to pull each weed by hand, mulch your garden very well to help prevent weed growth.
While you can use plastic, there are several items that you may have around the home that will help stop weeds. Covering the area around your plants with newspaper or old straw will prevent weeds from growing.
You can also cut strips of old carpet to lay between your plants as the carpet will stop the sun from getting to the weeds to germinate them.
You need to watch for signs that a disease is about to destroy your vegetable crop. If the leaves on your plants have holes in them, then insects are often to blame.
Releasing beneficial insects usually stops this problem. These insects will also help prevent other insects and moths from laying eggs under your vegetable leaves. If you see a silvery streak in the soil, then you have a slug or snail problem.
Try filling a tuna can with water, and the slug or snail will crawl in it. Then, you can dispose of it. You should still pick off any that you see on the soil or your plants.
If you are growing tomatoes, then watch for signs of worms in the fruit. The worms need to be picked off, and the infected vegetables are thrown away.
Watch for Signs of Animals
One of the most perturbing things that gardeners often must deal with is deer, raccoons, rabbits, and other animals getting their almost-ripe crop. Consider planting herbs and flowers around the edge of your garden to keep these pests away.
They do not like the smell, so they are less likely to try to grab your vegetables. You may also want to consider sprinkling sulfur around the edge of your garden if you are having trouble with rabbits.
You have worked hard to grow your garden, and the reward is a good harvest. It can be challenging to leave vegetables in the garden until they are fully ripe, but unless you are afraid of pests or disease hurting your crop, then you need to wait. If you are growing heirloom vegetables, collect the seeds.
Growing a garden can be a rewarding experience. Decide if it is the right one for you to start this year.
Want to use your green thumb to go green in your backyard? Read What You Can Do to Make a More Positive Environmental Impact in Your Backyard