Tuesday, March 9, 2010

You Can Start Gardening Now...

Tired of the cold? Itching to get outside? Love fresh, organic food? You can get started on a garden right now. In fact, early spring is the best time to do all the prep work. As soon as you can take a shovel or garden fork and dig into the soil you can be on your way to totally healthy and tasty vegetables that beat anything you can buy, even at a farmer's market.

Any spot, no matter how small with at least 6-8 hours of full sun per day can be turned into a garden. You can also grow some vegetables in pots and planters on a patio or balcony.

There are plenty of websites to help get you started with easy step by step instructions. I recommend Grow It Eat It but you can Google many others. Also, there are many gardeners around who can lend advice, some are even recognized as "Master Gardeners" by local gardening groups. These experienced folks regularly volunteer their time to help others.

I've been working on my garden for a few years growing tomatoes, green beans, swiss chard (similar to spinach but stands the heat of summer), peppers and onions. This year, I've already tilled the areas to be planted and added more peat moss to help loosen the clay soil we have. This work is the most physically demanding part of gardening, especially if you're making a new garden, so take it slow. Just work a few minutes each day. If you have a large area you can most likely find someone with a roto-tiller to do the dig-up phase for you for a reasonable fee instead of doing the work by hand using a spade or garden fork.

The most exciting parts of having your own garden are.... all of them! Every part, from preparing the soil to harvesting fresh, organic vegetables is rewarding. There's nothing that comes close to the satisfaction of being able to raise some of what you eat.

So at the end of week one, the onions have been planted. They take up little space and are dual-purpose: when they form small bulbs they can be pulled from the garden and used as green onions (scallions). Those left to form regular sized onions will be ready in August. The easiest way to plant them is to buy what's called onion sets: miniature onions that will give you a head start time-wise and are easier to handle than actual onion seed (available at Wally-Mart, Meyer Seed Company in downtown Baltimore, and many garden centers).

Other vegetables that can be planted now include carrots, lettuce and radishes, since they grow best in cool weather. But between now and the end of April, there's not much else to be planted. So now I have some time to decide and buy the seeds of each vegetable to plant since in some cases there are 50 or more variations of a particular vegetable. And much as I'd like to plant every vegetable, I just don't have the space.

Stay tuned for my next post: My Choices.


Deborah said...

Soooo itching to get outside and garden!

How much distance should be left between those onions when planting? I fear I didn't give them enough room last year and had poor results.

Becky said...

With the increasing cost of groceries and increasing concern over pesticides, etc...growing your own sounds to be the best option. Now just have to find the time!

Anonymous said...

Great article....can't wait to enjoy our garden this year! Always fun! LM

Deborah said...

Ooooh that's right - family and friends to get to enjoy the fruits (and veggies) of DW's labor as well ;-)

David said...

onions should be placed about 3 - 4" apart; However, one approach is to plant them closer and then as the green tops get large enough to use as green onions, then simply pull every-other onion. This will give you fresh small onions to use and leave the remaining ones to grow large.

Deborah said...

Brilliant. Will do.