Monday, March 1, 2010

How does your garden grow? Part I: First things first.

Every year my family grows a garden. This started when I was very young and I continue to carry on the tradition. Not only does produce grown from your garden taste better, but it's healthier and saves you money. I want to share with you my own tips along with ones I have picked up from others. So come and join me starting with prep right through to canning/freezing.

First we have to have a plan. I have my garden pretty much mapped out in my head because I have been doing this for a long time. You can draw it out or just have some ideas in your head. Talk to others. You don't have to go over the top. Gardening can be as easy as a few pots of herbs on your window sill or it can be the whole produce department. If you are new to gardening I recommend starting small and getting a feel for it before you till up half of your yard. I know sometimes when you get excited about something it's hard to stop. My husband did this the year we had our first garden together. I had to plead with him to not go any further. And I was pleased when I came home that day to find that he only added 25 sq. feet. Ha!

Next, you should decide if you are going to start seeds or go the easier route with already potted plants. I do a little of each, although this year I want to use more seeds. I go to a little local greenhouse and they grow almost all of their plants right there. I like that idea that they aren't being shipped long distances before they get to my garden. They aren't organic, but it's a good start. If you are going to use plants you won't be able to get those for a couple of months so no rush there. On the other hand if you are starting seeds you should start them roughly 6-8 weeks before they will go into the ground. You can safely put them in the ground when all fear of frost is gone. A good rule of thumb around here is no earlier than Memorial Day weekend. I usually do the first week in June, but to each is their own. That's the fun part of gardening. You can just wing it. It's a lot of trial and error. Here's a wonderful map (thanks to my gardening friends over at Coupon Geek!) that will show you where you sit for a hardiness zone. To know this is a must. I am a 5a zone. We all know you can't grow orange trees out in our backyards here in NEW. Why? Because the map says so! Kidding. Only in certain zones can things grow well. Check it out to learn more.

So plan out your garden by checking your hardiness zone and deciding if you are doing seeds or plants. Check back soon because I will show you lots of fun things to do to get your garden ready. Next up: starting seeds indoors using all of those newspapers you have lying around. See you soon!

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