Five things to consider for your spring garden
Over the years, we’ve learned that having a garden has lots of advantages. Saving money on fresh fruit, produce, and herbs is just one of them. You can also save money on gifts by making jams, jellies even homemade salsa from the items you grow.
We’ve made our own strawberry and red plum jam and it’s better than anything you’ll ever buy at the store.
Plus, food just doesn’t get any fresher, tastier, or healthier than picking it out of your own garden! You greatly increase the quality of your life with a food garden.
And at AFAO, we’re committed to caring for our neighbors. We give some of the food we grow to our neighborhood food pantry, Cypress Assistance Ministries. You can choose to help those in your community by donating some of your surpluses too!
Then there’s the exercise you get from shoveling, raking, and pulling weeds.
So as your mind starts to think of spring gardening here are a few tips that will your garden thrive:
- Decide what you’re going to grow. What does your family like to eat?
- Decide how much you’re going to grow and how much space you’ll need. Keep in mind that some vegetables, like squash, tomatoes, and peppers produce continuously, while others, like carrots and corn, only produce once. Most new garden owners tend to get a little carried away and take on a garden that’s bigger than they need.
- Find the perfect spot. In general, your garden will grow better if it receives a lot of sunlight. It also must drain well, so the soggy spot in the back corner of the yard isn’t what you’re looking for.
✴ Also, consider traffic in your yard; children and pets can be more harmful to the garden than a pesky rabbit. If you live in a dry area, you must locate your garden where you’ll be able to provide water.
- Good soil helps! Ask your local nursery for advice about the soil in the area. You can even have it tested. In general, you want soil that’s not too loose (sand) and not too solid (clay). Either sand or organic matter can be added to the soil to improve its quality.
- Prepare the soil. A tiller makes easy work of the job; rent or borrow one. A shovel makes for good exercise. Combine any sand or organic material with the soil and rake everything smooth.
- Plant your garden. Follow the directions on the seed packets or seedlings. Be sure to space properly, plant at the proper depth, and plant at the proper time for your area.
- Maintain. Gardens need two things after they’ve been planted: watering and weeding. Most new gardeners tend to over-water. Things have to dry out from time to time to prevent mold or fungus from developing. The soil should stay soft.✴ Drenching it twice a week is sufficient in most locations in the middle of summer. A light watering every day tends to encourage shallow root growth, so deep watering once or twice a week is better for forming deep roots and healthy plants.
✴ Spend a few minutes each day pulling any weeds. They can take over the garden quickly. Hint: if you have the space, plant your rows with enough spacing to allow your rake to fit between the rows. Then you can quickly drag the rake through to pull the weeds out.
Having a garden is a fair amount of work upfront and a small amount of work each day, but you’ll soon find that your efforts are well worth it. Enjoy!