Written by Jackie Stevenson, BS, DTR
Spring is here! It’s time to start gardening. I have always been a fair-weather gardener, planting seedlings that were nurtured from seed by someone else. My job wouldn’t really begin until May. The plants I picked always bloomed in August, giving me just about nothing all season, then too much all at once. To a seasoned gardener, it sounds like I had no idea what I was doing. That’s true, and I still really don’t.
All I can say is that I have learned a few things over the years. I will continue to plant, fail, and plant again. I have a few goals for this season. Most mainly have to do with timing. Here’s a quick rundown of my plans.
- Start early. If May comes around and I don’t have any leafy greens planted, I have failed. Lettuce, kale, spinach and the like are cool weather plants. They are easy to grow from seed, so there really is no reason to have missed the May deadline. Planting them in late March will give them time to germinate and sprout. I may be able to start harvesting by the time the less hearty plants go in. Of course, there is always the chance that we will have a serious frost and I will lose some plants. If you decide to follow me on this, be vigilant of overnight temps and cover your sprouted plants at night when you can.
- Stagger the harvest. To solve the problem of having too much all at once, I plan to stagger the start time of my seeds. I like to think I will have dates and times and maps all made up detailing the timing and location of planting. Let’s face it, gardening is supposed to be relaxing, so I will save the OCD tendencies for another venture. Instead, I’ll try planting only half of a seed packet to start, and once those seedlings have matured a bit, plant the rest, staggering the harvest time. It’s not an exact science.
- Add more variety. Every CSA and farmers market has zucchini, cucumbers and tomatoes. This is great, seeing as you can now replace hot dogs with zucchini. I do believe replacing your hot dog bun with zucchini is the better option. By the end of the summer, the same few veggie options are plain boring. I plan to find some other options that will break up the monotony of zucchini noodles and cucumber salad. I’m thinking eggplant, rhubarb, watermelon, spaghetti squash and pumpkin. I’ll probably just hit up the seed stand at Tractor Supply and see what’s out there.
- Herbs. I always forget about planting herbs. I have a healthy chive plant my dad gave me, but I often forget it’s there. Half the battle will be remembering to get them planted. The other half will be remembering I have them to use. I would love to do parsley, basil and thyme to name a few. Onions and scallions are always great for flavor as well.
If you are just beginning or don’t have such ambitious plans, start small. Lettuce and tomatoes are some of the easiest plants to grow, can be done in pots, and make a great base for any salad. Start small and let your green thumb take over.