Planning Your Spring Garden

Written by Peg Castorani.

Planning Your Spring GardenNow that your raised beds are finished, we can talk about the fun part...Planting! Last month I told you how to build your raised bed and fill it with soil high in organic matter that drains well. (See March 2015 LWM) or visit http://www.livingwellmagazine.net/home-design/gardening/

Here are my tips for getting started:

Almost ready but first: 

TEST your soil. The University of Delaware Extension Service offers this service.  Stop into Gateway Gardens for a soil test bag, follow the instructions and you will find out if you need to amend your soil in any way to be the most productive. 

WAIT until your soil is sufficiently dry.  You can tell if the soil is too wet if when you clump together a handful, it stays in a wet ball. The soil will crumble and break into smaller clumps when it is sufficiently dry. Soil always drains better in a raised bed so hopefully the winter’s wet spells will be less of a delay. Another reason to garden in raised beds! 

Rake the top of the bed lightly to create a level smooth seed bed.  You can use a string line to make a straight line or blocks to reduce weeds and intensify yield. 

Simply lay the seeds on the soil and top with compost. The rule of thumb is to cover the seeds with compost 3x the depth of the seed itself. Seeds are so small; you can see that they will stay very close to the surface.  

You can also plant starter plants that thrive in cool weather: (see sidebar)

The remainder of your vegetables, like tomatoes, cukes and squash should be planted when the evening temperatures are reliably in the mid 50s. Any vegetables that you would like to start from seed should be started 6 weeks before you plan to plant.  Each seed packet has detailed information.

Mulch your starter plants with leaf compost, grass clippings (only in the rows in between the seeds) or even small amounts of straw or pine needles. There are all sorts of tricks to keep your plants warmer to speed up growth. The ‘Wall of Water’ works very well as does turning over a plastic jug to protect delicate foliage. Noodle around on the internet and you will find more ideas. 

Vegetable gardening is good for you. It gets you outside and exercising. Gardening provides healthy food for your family, allows you to nurture life.  Digging in the earth allows you to bury troubles and harvest joy.

See you in the garden!

Peg-ThumbnailPeg Castorani is the owner of Gateway Garden Center in Hockessin, Delaware. Peg and her friendly, knowledgable staff will provide you with expert horticultural advice to help you fill your life with the beauty of plants. For questions or more information 302-239-2727

www.gatewaygardens.com

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