Green Thumb Wannabes?

Hey everybody!

I’m excited for March because it means spring is just around the corner. Longer days, sunny afternoons, barbecues and the ice cream man are ready to make a comeback. And it’s about time!

On another note, are any of you thinking of trying to develop a green thumb this year? I think I might. I’ve always wanted to go out into the backyard and pluck up some fresh vegetables to cook with dinner. I want to do it right though, so I’ve been reading up and I’ve found some pretty handy information that will save me a lot of time and frustration down the road—and I figured I’d pass it on to you. If you’re thinking of starting your own garden this year, check out some of these tips. I know I’m glad I did!

1. Decide whether or not you want to have your plants in the ground, in pots/raised beds or maybe even a greenhouse. It’s important to make this decision early and stick with it, because you’ll need time to prepare the space and soil before you plant your first seeds. It’s not always easy to tell if you have the best soil in your yard for what you’ll be planting, so if you want to play it safe strongly consider going with either raised beds or pots. That way you’ll know exactly what kind of soil and nutrients your plants will be feeding on.

2. Start cleaning up your space. You’ll need to remove leaves, weeds and other types of debris from your dedicated growing space. Your sprouts will need room to grow and breathe as they spread their roots, so give them the best chance you can.

3. Get a head start on collecting all your seeds. Decide if you want to go organic or increase your chances of success with hybridized plants that are more resistant to drought or pests. However holistic of a direction you choose to move in, just make sure to plant what’s appropriate for the season. That means buying summer-flowering bulbs and seeds. Flowers like Lilies are good for early spring and will leave you with a colorful summer display that lasts through the summer.

4. If there are any plants in particular that need less harsh growing seasons, like beans or cabbage, early spring after the last frost is a good time to plant them. This way you wont end up having your plants subject to cooler conditions and shorter days toward the end of the year, which will eventually kill them off.

5. Stock up on the appropriate gardening tools and sharpen the ones you already have. By sharpening your tools not only will you prolong their life expectancy, but you’ll also save money in the long run and help prevent the possible spread of disease among your plants.

6. Take care of garden pests before you start growing. By taking care of them early on in the growing season, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and trouble once it’s prime breeding season for pests. Aphids like to hide at the tops of perennials during the winter, so check any plants around where you plan to have your garden to see if you need to bring in Ladybugs.

7. Create your own composting system. There are tons of kits out there if you want to save some time but I think the best bet would be building your own. All you really need to make a compost bin are a few spare bits of timber. Compost is great because throughout the year you will want to remove garden waste and this gives you a place to put it. It will also give you a place other than the trash or garbage bags to put things like grass clippings, vegetable or fruit peels, eggshells or plant prunings. Just remember that your composting system works like an engine in that it needs fuel to operate. Oxygen and bacteria are what fuel compost, so you’ll need to get a pitchfork or develop some other method of turning your compost every month to keep it aerated and healthy.

Well that’s it for now I suppose. I’ve got to go out back and get my hands a little dirty, but I know it’ll be more than worth it. If you’re unsure about what to do or not to do, do a quick online search or run to the bookstore and try to find an almanac. There are tons of resources out there. Until next month, Happy Spring and good luck gardening folks!