Spring Garden rX
Finally! The temperatures are rising, and the days are getting longer. The trees and plants are coming back to life, and the landscape is becoming green again. The cold snowy days of February have passed, and we can actually be outside for more than a few minutes. And, the farmers markets are starting to open back up, too. Ahhh, spring is upon us.
That leaves me with one question for you: What are you growing in your garden this year?
If you have been thinking about starting a garden, this is your year to do it. And, here’s how. The first thing to do is to decide where you want to grow your veggies. Pick a corner of the yard that gets good sun for part of the day. If this is your first garden, you’ll want to start somewhat small. Try starting with a plot that is four feet by four feet. You may want something larger, but it does take some experience to be able to manage a large garden. So start small, learn, and then grow.
Once you’ve picked a plot, then you need to decide if you want a raised bed garden or if you want to plant directly. While planting directly requires less work up front, it may lead to more work down the road. Weeds are typically harder to control, and the Midwest is full of hard and difficult to work clay soil. Consider instead creating a raised bed. To build a raised bed you will need some lumber. However, stay away from treated wood as it can leach chemicals into your bed and become part of your food. Once you’ve put together a frame the size of your plot, you’ll need to fill it. If you have grass, you may want to overturn it inside the bed. Then you should fill it full of a mixture of compost and leaves (if you still have some leftover from last autumn) on a bottom layer of the bed and a nice layer of soil on the top.
Now you have your garden ready to plant, and we come back to the original question: What are you going to grow? Since this may likely be your first garden, start with easier plants. Lettuce is typically a good and easy grower. Romaine varieties are a good choice as they are some of the more nutritious varieties of lettuce. Other simple growers are radishes and beets. Pull up the plant when you start seeing over 25% of the root exposed. Snow peas are yet another good option, as they tend to be vigorous producers. Just remember to plant a stake in the ground for them because they like to vine.
One of the best things about growing your own garden is that you have the ability to produce locally grown, non-GMO, organic food. When you buy your seeds, make sure to get good quality seeds, and, if you’ve never tried them before, heirloom varieties are fun because they often come in unique shapes and colors. Two companies I recommend are Southern Exposure Seed Exchange (southernexposure. com) and Seed Savers Exchange (seedsavers.org). Growing your own garden is fun yet challenging, and there is something a little magical about it. For some reason when you bite into that fresh veggie, it is a little crunchier, it is a little more flavorful, and it feels more nutritious. Gardening is a truly rewarding experience from seed to plate. So get out there and grow!
If you have some gardening experience, consider square foot gardening. This is especially useful when you are limited on space because it optimizes space by using succession planting. Learn more about it at www.squarefootgardening.com.
by Jeri Brown
Recipe for seed bombs:
5 parts dry red clay (found at pottery supply stores)
3 parts compost (I used my own, from my compost pile)
1 part wild flower or seed of your choice
1 to 2 cups water
Mix together in a large bowl or small bucket. Roll into small balls and dry on newspaper for 2 to 3 days.