As I mentioned in Welcome Spring, a part of Spring I love is gardening. I love planting everything out as the weather warms, watching the baby rabbits try and invade my lettuce and cabbage patches, harvesting the fresh fruit and vegetables.
And April is the time when most of my gardening happens.
Now, the first few steps I have actually already done! I prefer to turn the soil in late Winter, when it is frozen hard enough to turn in huge lumps, but soft enough to get a shovel into. I like starting my seedlings early in case the first lot don’t take. And I would rather have the garden ready by the time I’m planting out. But you can do all of this now and get your garden started a little later and you won’t miss out on much.
Step 1: Decide what you’re doing.
No point lifting a finger until you know what will be happening. Go into your garden and draw a sketch of it. It can be as detailed or as simple as you want. Just make sure you draw out your current beds, your grass and any areas you can’t dig or plant on (for whatever reason).
Next, take a standard soil sample from your garden. Take note of whether there are very different soils in any areas of the garden and make sure you get samples of them too. You can go back inside now.
First test the soil samples and make sure they aren’t too salty, clay, sandy or full of bits and stones. What soil you have is very important to what you can grow.
Once you know what soils you have, make a list of the different plants you want to grow and where they can grow.
Use your map to decide where you will plant everything and what you will plant on its own or together.
Step 2: Prepare the beds.
Now that you know what you will be planting and where, start turning the soil everywhere it needs it. Make sure soil is enriched where it needs to be. Add woodchips where needed, supports where needed. Basically get everything ready.
Step 3: Plant the seeds.
Plant your seeds following the directions. Be warned that most seeds do better in pots or planters indoors to start out with, even if this isn’t recommended.
For plants that you want to be abundant or for leafy greens, just sow the seeds out and see what happens. For plants that will bear fruit or delicate flowers, plant indoors at first to guarantee a greater number.
Make sure indoors plants are by a window, away from drafts and heaters, where they get plenty of light, some shade and not extreme temperature changes.
Step 4: Weed, plant out, protect.
Once your seedlings are ready to plant out, first harden them to insects, wind and weather by placing the pots outside during the day. If there are still frosts, bring them in every night until the frosts subside. Then, leave them out at night. If you spot insect damage, keep moving them to different areas and check on them throughout the day. Encourage natural insectivores to visit and use natural insect deterrents. After a few weeks of this they should be robust enough to survive if planted out.
Weed the surrounding area well to ensure no roots remain that would choke your plant. Dig a pit big enough for the entire pot or around a fist if you’re planting out smaller plants from shared pots. If it’s a single plant in a pot, ensure the soil is dry and turn it over with your hand supporting the soil and the stem of the plant between your fingers. This way you ensure minimal root damage. Turn the plant the right way around and place it, soil and all, into the hole. If it’s in a shared planter, use a trowel to dig deeply all around it, making sure not to damage the roots. Use the trowel to lever out the plant and place it in the hole.
Use clear plastic tubs, bean nets or whatever necessary to shield the plants from the elements and wildlife for a few days as the roots take hold.
Step 5: Keep an eye on.Watch your plants closely without disturbing them. If one succumbs to disease or parasites, remove it before the others are affected. Make sure they don’t get too dry or soaked. Keep larger pests away from them. If they are taking, new buds will appear within a week or two. If there are no new buds or leaves after a month, the plant may be struggling. Add extra nutrients to the soil to encourage solid root growth. After a month of no growth the plant will often die. Don’t worry about this unless all of them are dying. Some plants will always suffer root damage or not take to new soil. As long as most of them made it, you did well.And that’s how to get a garden going!What is your garden like? Are you an avid gardener with advice to offer? Or a novice with questions? Either way, feel free to start some discussion in the comments!TTFN and Happy Hunting!