4 Basic Steps in Early Gardening
Unless and until you are a professional farmer, sowing your seeds at the right time can be an overwhelming undertaking. If you plant to early, you’ll end up with tall spindly plants that will not be strong enough to thrive outside, if you plant too late you’ll go out of your mind trying to rush the plants into playing ‘catch up’. The real trick is estimating when the very last frost will hit your backyard. The USDA has a helpful tool for that: http://plants.usda.gov/hardiness.html
Here are the steps to get started:
- Checking your Zone
Look, we all want to be able to grow celery and wasabi peas, but realistically you probably are not in the right zone for that. Be sure to check the length of your growing season so you will know which plants will be able to thrive. You certainly do not want the heartbreak of seeing your hard work killed off by frost, or over heated by the sun. Caution is always best. See the above photo to check your zone.
- Choosing what to grow.*
In January, the joy of getting seed catalogs in the mail encourages you to pick an abundance of seeds. Spring is here and reality hits- you might not be able to plant everything you want! We recommend to map out your garden ahead of time- that way it will be easier to see what you have room to grow. Remember that if your plants to not fare as you had hoped you can always supplement beans or lettuce later in the season.
- Getting Started
Every gardener should at least once try to start their long season crops inside. This will really help make you appreciate the plant starts you can get at your local farm or garden center. Getting your plant started inside will also give you the chance to grow things you might not find readily at the traditional markets: green zebra tomatoes, white grape tomatoes, Kohl-rabi, black radishes and purple peppers. Plants that have a shorter season (beans, peas, radishes, lettuce and cucumbers) can be sown directly in the soil when it is warm enough. Best to wait until the soil is warm for the plant starts. This allows them to adjust quicker to being outside and to sink roots faster.
- Time to get dirty!
The biggest and hardest step is just doing it- be fearless. If something fails, you’ll know more for next season. But if you succeed- watch out! Gardening is an addiction. A rich rewarding labor of love, grown with your own hands.
Early gardening can become extremely dirty. You will find yourself covered in dirt, grass stains and bugs. You are in luck! We make an incredible hand scrub and stain remover that works on everything! Our Gardener’s Hand soap is a combination of all our left over soap pieces and organic cornmeal. This scrub will take stains off your clothes and clean your hands with ease. The last thing on your mind while gardening should be getting dirty- so be adventurous and get dirty!
*If you are unsure of how good your soil is, check with your local Cooperative Extension. They can provide soil test so you can adjust soil requirements and suggest ideas for improving your soil. Soil can even provide you with the best choice of what to grow in your garden, expertise in crop rotation, and the best yielding varieties. So if you’re just getting your feet wet with gardening, they can be your best resource.