It is almost April 15th and where I call home, it is time to begin my spring edible garden!
I kinda get a chuckle, at my expense when it comes to gardening. When I was much younger, in grammar school, my parents had a garden. We grew corn, beans, and a few other vegetables. We had a huge apple tree and prosperous grape vines; so I grew up knowing where food comes from.
When I was 10 years old, we moved and no longer had a garden at our house, however, my grandparents still had thriving gardens. They enjoyed all sorts of greens, beans and squash. During my teenage years, I totally resented having to work in the garden…
I just didn’t understand the satisfaction and money saving motivations behind it.
However, as I have grown older and have come to appreciate agriculture, so much so, that is why I started this blog – I have been chopping at the bit, to have my own vegetable garden.
I had minimal success last year; therefore, this year, I have created a gardening journal, with a strategic plan for my edibles.
Spring Planting Starting From Seed
Starting seeds indoors can be fun and richly rewarding; however, I do not have room for this endeavor at this time.
I wait till the danger of frost has passed and start my seeds directly in the soil where I will grow my plants. No transplanting necessary.
Here is a United States map, so you can determine your hardiness zone.
Average Dates for Growing Windows
ZONE 3 – last frost date of May 15th and first frost date of September 15
ZONE 4 – last frost date of June 1st and first frost date of October 1
ZONE 5 – last frost date of May 15th and first frost date of October 15th
ZONE 6 – last frost date of May 1st and first frost date of November 1st
ZONE 7 – last frost date of April 15th and first frost date of November 15th
ZONE 8 – last frost date of April 1st and first frost date of December 1st
ZONE 9 – last frost date of March 1st and first frost date of December 15th
Use your last and first frost dates to calculate your planting schedule.
DETERMINE YOUR GARDENING SPACE
Deciding the size and type of garden depends upon the amount of space you have, how much work you are willing to do, and how much you want to harvest.
If you are a beginner, keep your garden modest…you can always enlarge it later.
For larger garden plots, arrange plants in rows then use the space between those rows for access.
Read how to prepare and set up a garden plot here:
Raised beds are an option. They keep a garden tidy and you can fill them with a custom blend of ideal soils.
You will need to amend the soil yearly with organic matter, such as chopped leaves and compost.
A rich, loose soil makes all the difference in a garden’s productivity.
If you build a raised bed, make sure to use rot-resistant timbers or cinder blocks.
Remember, sprawling vines, such as pumpkins and melons need more space than a small garden can provide. Therefore, the size of your garden may place limitations on what you can grow.
Container gardening is a viable option for those with limited space or in urban areas. Almost anything can be a garden planter. Just make sure to thoroughly clean your container before adding soil – AND – consider what you are growing; for example, quick-growing salad greens can be sown in a shallow container, but rooted crops, such as carrots, need more depth.
DECIDING WHAT TO PLANT IN YOUR GARDEN
Sowing seeds is a key part of vegetable gardening because rapidly germinating vegetables, such as turnips, radishes, squashes, corn and beans are generally easier to grow from seeds, planted directly into the soil.
Seeds are less expensive and companies provide far more varieties of plants in seeds.
I plant all of my vegetables in the garden plot, which is about 100 yards from my house. This space has great sun exposure and good drainage.
There are some great resources for buying seeds, besides your local home improvement store. Both of these companies will send you a FREE catalog.
Since planting times vary by climate hardiness zones (see above) and type of crop, read the seed packets to determine an optimal planting time.
I document when I plant in my garden journal, which is just a spiral notebook.
I keep up with what I plant; where I plant it; when I plant it and when I harvest.
Final Tips for Spring Planting
- Site your garden or containers in a sunny location, making sure it is near a water source.
- Determine the growing season for your area and plant accordingly.
- Vegetable seeds need a sterile soil. Use a commercially produced seed-starting mix. For growing in containers, I use a mix of potting mix and Nature’s Helper® soil conditioner. It helps aerate the soil and retain moisture. I recommend a 1:1 ratio of each.
- If using containers for your edibles, size is important! Herbs, salad greens, green onions and radishes prefer a container at least FOUR INCHES deep; choose pots at least EIGHT INCHES deep for Swiss chard, peppers, eggplants, and baby carrots. Tomatoes, broccoli, squash and cucumbers should be grown in larger pots. Asparagus, corn, melons and pumpkins are impractical for containers. All containers must have drainage holes.
- Use tall plants to create shade for shorter plants. When planted on the north or east edge of the garden, corn, tomatoes and pole beans cast shadows that maybe beneficial for shade tolerant crops such as lettuce, spinach and peas.
- Consider where you are going to store your garden tools, making sure you can carry them to the garden, or they are readily accessible.
Growing your own garden? Send me pictures or if you have questions – feel free to send them to me!