The last few weeks of winter is the perfect time to plan a garden and prepare for the upcoming planting season. Therefore, you may be interested in the following 5 Ways to Plan a Garden While It’s Still Cold Outside!
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Choose the Right Spot
Vegetables need plenty of sunlight to grow. Therefore it’s important to pick a location that provides direct sunlight for at least 6 hours a day. Choose a spot free from shade so that the vegetables are able to take full advantage of the sunlight.
Plants grow up and outward as they mature so be sure to plan extra space between rows when planting. This extra space will also allow room for a tiller to go between rows without uprooting the plants and provide a space to walk when weeding or harvesting.
A garden plot near your home is ideal and will make it easier for you to tend. A convenient source of water also needs to be available so that you don’t have to lug water out to wilting plants during a dry spell. On the other hand, make sure your garden location drains properly to ensure that water neither pools nor drains away too quickly.
If your terrain really isn’t conducive to gardening, consider building raised garden beds and fill them with good garden soil. If you are short on space, container gardening may be a good option.
Choosing the right location for your garden aids in generating great tasting produce and a bountiful harvest.
Good soil is another important component of a successful garden. Soil that is enriched with organic compost and organic matter provides key nutrients for growing plants. Ideal soil should be fairly spongy and have the ability to hold moisture, yet drain well. Strive to create an environment where tender roots can easily penetrate the soil and one where plants can thrive.
What to Grow
When planning your garden it’s important to decide beforehand if you want to freeze, can or use a dehydrator to preserve your fresh produce. Many people get overzealous when planting a garden and plant way too much. So unless you plan on selling or giving a lot of produce away, only grow the things that your family will eat. Remember, it’s always better to be happy with a smaller garden versus feeling overwhelmed with a big one that you have a hard time managing.
Buying Seeds & Plants
No one wants to waste money on garden seeds that don’t germinate or on seedlings that won’t grow when transplanted. That’s why seasoned gardeners invest in high-quality seeds and seedlings. Spending a little extra money upfront will pay off in the end with a better quality of produce and higher yields during harvest. Before buying your seeds and seedlings, it’s wise to know what the growing timeframe is for your area. A Farmer’s Almanac can predict when the first and last frost dates will be for your region, which in turn, lets you know what your overall growing season will be.
At the age of 85, my mother is still an avid gardener. She has always planted vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, beans, carrots, peas, pumpkins, squash, zucchini, okra, melons and beets directly using seeds.
She always buys things like tomato, pepper and strawberry seedlings from a local nursery or starts her own seedling indoors up to 8 weeks in advance. Either way, when it’s planting time, the seedlings already have a good start and can easily be transplanted into her garden plot.
Spacing and Staggering
When planning your garden remember to space your crops properly. For example, things such as melons and pumpkins produce vines that spread and require a lot of space. Sweet corn and tomatoes also require a lot of space to grow and can overshadow shorter plants. My mother does a wonderful job of appropriately spacing out the items in her garden. She also makes sure there is plenty of space for those vegetables that produce more than one crop per season.
My mother also staggers her planting of various vegetables. For example, rather than planting her sweet corn seeds all at one time, she staggers planting it, a couple weeks apart. In turn, this provides mature sweet corn throughout the entire season and helps stagger the work at harvest time. It can be pretty overwhelming and discouraging when you have row after row after row of mature sweet corn and you don’t have the time or energy to harvest it all on the spot. Staggering planting at the very beginning spreads out the maturity rate and certainly helps when it comes time to harvest your fresh produce.
Whether you’re a pro or a beginner, a little planning will go a long way towards making your garden a successful one! Plus, you’ll enjoy the tastiest vegetables!
I hope you have a fabulous garden this year!
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