March 30, 2012
Spring is in full swing, so here are some of my tried and true spring gardening tips to help get a jumpstart on your warm weather vegetables and herbs:
Keep a garden diary. I’ve long since given up on my ability to remember which plants were successful and which ones were not—Baby # 2 sucked the memory card right out of me. Now, I keep a garden diary to help me keep track. I have a simple log that tracks what was planted, when it was planted and harvested and whether we liked eating it or not. Then, the following year I can plant with confidence, baby brain and all.
Pay attention to the timing of your planting. The good Old Farmer’s Almanac is a great place to start to determine your best planting dates. Just plug in your zip code for specific planting information for your area. The gold standard of gardening is to start planting summer varietals after the last frost.
Use seedlings rather than seeds. Planting tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans, peppers, and eggplant from seedling will optimize your harvest success. Locally, I purchase seedlings from Island Seed and Feed or Terra Sol, which have a great variety of wonderful organic seedlings.
Be sure to add compost. Adding organic compost is vital to healthy and happy soil. The health of your dirt determines the success of your vegetables. It’s kind of like the first step in “you are what you eat!”
Stock up on mulch. Top off your garden beds with mulch, such as hay, bark or other dry matter and continue to add all summer long. This method translates to less water use and eliminates weeding (thank you, Ruth Stout).
Try rare varietals. Grow special, wonderful vegetables that are hard to find at the grocery store. Zebra tomatoes, purple beans, Japanese eggplant and lemon cucumbers are incredibly flavorful for garden recipes and are easy to grow.
Stagger planting. I like to spread out planting from March clear into September for a steady stream of vegetables throughout the season. This revolving schedule has me adding more to the garden every month for the entire summer. Try staggering your planting for abundant results all summer long.
I love this Alfred Austin ode to the garden, “The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.”
Here’s to the start of a nice long feeding.