The sun is out, the soil is ready, and the time is now! Winter is in the past and our fears of overnight frost are gone. This means it’s time to get in your garden and start planting! Whether you have patches of soil in the ground, or just a few planting containers to work with, it’s time to start prepping for your fruitful garden.
Before getting your plant on, there are a few details that need to be taken care of.
1. Where are you going to put everything?
Most plants require at least eight hours of sun per day to grow big and bountiful. Take a look at your planting space; see where the sun hits your garden and where the shady spots are. If you’re working with containers, you can move them into the sunny patches. Some plants thrive in the shade, so when choosing your seeds or seedlings, choose based on sunshine needs. Figure out if it’s best to plant in rows, squares or circles. Coming up with a plan before digging in is highly recommended.
2. Did you mend your soil yet?
Now that you’re actually planting your seeds or transplanting your seedlings in the soil, you’ll need to make sure it’s fertile and filled with tons of microorganisms. It’s these little creepy crawlers that do the hard work in helping plants to grow. If you can’t see a single worm or bug in the soil, it may be a good idea to add compost. You can get this at any garden center. If you’re working in containers, be sure to use triple mix—do not put soil from the ground into your containers.
3. Getting your seeds and seedlings into the soil.
The number of days it takes to grow various fruits and veggies varies dramatically. Squash takes 90 days, beans take 80-85 days, tomatoes take 60-75 days, beets take 45 days and radishes take 28 days. Hardier vegetables like carrots, beets, squash and zucchini, can all be directly sowed into the soil. To ensure their growth, feel free to grab seedlings (baby plants) from a garden center and plant those. Some of these plants will grow big, so make sure to leave adequate space when planting. Tomato, zucchini and cucumbers are known to spread, so use stakes and wires to hold them up.
4. Hardening off your seedlings.
Any seedlings that were planted indoors now need to be “hardened off” before going directly into the soil. This means taking them outside for a few hours a day. This prevents them from going into shock once transplanted.
5. Trial and error is the best way.
Ultimately, all seeds and seedlings can go directly into soil. Read the packages carefully before planting to know how to plant and how much room to leave between each seed. Find out if your seeds are perennials or annuals. Avoid planting prolific perennials like chives and mint in the middle of the garden. They will take over and it’s best to plant them separately in a container, or a bed of their own. Gardening is all about trial and error, and constantly learning. Don’t be afraid to just dive in and let your green thumb take over.
Tamara Green is co-founder of The Living Kitchen, and a Holistic Nutritionist and Natural Cook. She combines her knowledge of nutrition and passion for cooking good food to work with clients to create lasting changes in their lives.