A locally-owned nursery in my area has gardening classes on Saturday and I attended two. The best part – they were free. That, and they had popcorn.
I wanted to take home all of these colorful plant stands and hooks. They are adorable. (I may or may not be recreating this look – on my budget. Stay tuned.) And of course I loved all the pots. I could have brought home a Prius-load.
- First-time gardeners should stick to gardens no larger than 25 x 25. (Can you imagine going any larger?) Write it down!
- Your garden should be near the house (if possible), in full-sun (at least 6 hours) and on a level site. (Note: Salad greens, broccoli, chard and cabbage will only tolerate 4-6 hours of sun.)
- Soil is uber-important! The best time to work the soil is in the fall. But, if you didn’t, it’s not too late!
- Wait to work the soil until near the frost-free date (late April/early May here). Before tilling, add 3-4 inches of organic matter (compost). Once spread, use a garden tiller to turn soil until it’s completely mixed in.
- Do not use top soil – it does not add any nutrients to your soil! Use garden soil, cow manure, cotton bur or mushroom compost (or a combination).
- For container gardeners, consider self-watering containers and use fresh, potting soil. Remember that potting soil cannot be re-used year after year.
- Product recommendation (which Ryan also endorses): Use Preen Vegetable Garden Organic Weed Preventer for your garden and even your lawn (make sure you see the purple organic label). It’s made of 100% corn gluten, and was developed by folks at Iowa State University (WOOT WOOT!). Avoid those harsh chemicals.
- Starting seeds indoors is a little less expensive than buying transplants from a greenhouse.
- You should be starting your seeds now (if you are in the upper mid-west).
- Water or mist with room temp water in a slow stream. Remember that these are babies. You wouldn’t throw your newborn baby in a hot shower. Don’t do it to your little seedlings.
- Fertilize every 7-10 days after first true leaves have formed (1/2 strength with water-soluble fertilizer).
- Thin out seedlings when plants are 1 inch tall and after first true leaves develop. leave the strongest looking plants in each pod.
- Harden up your seedlings (or seedlings you purchase at the garden center) by bringing them outside for 10-14 days before planting them outside.
- Plant tomatoes and broccoli deeper for stability and support.
- Water plants immediately after transplanting.
- How to know if it’s time to water? Soil feels cool and damp but doesn’t wet finger.
- Container vegetables need to be fertilized and watered more than in-ground.
- Harvest beans, corn and peas as soon as they ripen.
- Harvest broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, radish, squash, tomato and zucchini a few days after ripening.
- Leave beets, carrots, kale, leeks, pumpkins and winter squash for a few weeks.
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