Get Ready for Gardening-plot it out
Depending on what you are thinking of growing in your backyard or in pots this year, you might be getting close to planting time. In the Northeast we are in that in-between time of the year where one day it is balmy and warm and the next day you wake up shivering from the cold air. It’s hard to tell if there will be another frost, which is exactly when you know it is time to start planning for the garden. If you are a novice or have a light green thumb, don’t be intimidated by gardening. I had never so much as watered a house plant well and last year I had a garden that grew tomatoes and herbs all the way through until October. The first step is selecting your plot and soil.
First, select a plot of land in your yard that gets the most sunlight-they say at least eight hours a day. There is no where in my yard that gets that much sun but I still grew a garden well, so find the place that gets the most sun.
Also, think about what you will be planting and where everything should go. You might want to have the tomatoes in one area of the yard and the herbs in another, for instance. This decision needs to be made both for how you want things to look, but also for how compatible the plants are to one another. Most importantly, your plants, especially the veggies, will grow long roots so you can not have them too tightly packed in there. It may be hard to imagine at the seed stage, but a few months from now, they could be strangling each other with sibling rivalry if you plant them too close.
If you don’t have a yard, you can still grow tomatoes and herbs in pots, but you will still need to find a window sill that gets a good deal of sunlight, and an area where you can open the window for fresh air as it gets warmer.
This is also a good time to think about the equipment you will need. Some people like to make stone borders around their gardens for looks, others must have cages over their fruits as they grow to keep away the little animals. I grew beautiful strawberries last year and before I could say shortcake the raccoons had eaten them down to the stems. For taller growing plants, like tomatoes, you will need to build tomato cages or add ladders so they can hang on to something as they grow taller. It’s a good idea to get these things now so you aren’t trying to pry your way through the vines later. I like this website for equipment Gardener’s Supply Co.
Next, get in there and till the soil. You do this with a few gardening tools, like a hand held claw rake and a shovel. You have to make sure you are allowing the soil to breathe and absorb the water that you will feed it in future months. If it is too dense, the moisture and air will not circulate. You also want to pull out any weeds and other garbage that may be hiding in your beds from the winter. You want to go at least as deep as you will be planting-a foot is a good start.
Some people even opt to go buy new soil to use for their garden plots. You can find soil at your local nursery that will be richer in nutrients and void of the garbage that you might find in old soil. It’s a good idea to buy new soil, especially if you are planting on a plot of land for the first time. At my daughter’s school, they have turned abandoned, dirt spaces into beautiful flower beds. They could not have done so without first replacing or adding to the soil that was there.
If you are planning to use pots, you should get some stones or clam shells ready so you can put those in there with the dirt to further aid the water flow. As a matter of fact, it doesn’t hurt to use these in the ground as well.
Next up, we’ll go over the basics of planting herbs and veggies-boy it will be worth it!