Spring has arrived, and it's time to get back out into the garden.
Days are getting longer and overnight temperatures are rising. That means gardeners all around the region are itching to get back out in the yard. If you're an old hand or a novice, here are some tips for how to get started.
Buying Expensive Seedlings
We've all been tempted by the perfect, lush plants at our local hardware stores and farmers' markets. Before you shell out a ton of money, sit down and make a wish list for yourself. Think about what you eat regularly, and what would be cheaper to simply buy from the grocery store. Some things, like tomatoes, taste infinitely better when homegrown, while things like onions and shallots may be better to buy as you need them. Be realistic and try to stick to your list when you're out and about.
Buying seedlings will give you about a month's headstart on most vegetables. When you get them home, put the plants somewhere in your yard to acclimate and watch if any seem to be getting too much or not enough sun.
Starting From Seed
Some fast-growing veggies and herbs do better when started from seed. Taking the extra time to start them indoors just isn't worth it when you factor in the risk of transplanting them later. If you're thinking of planting corn, sunflowers, or delicate herbs like cilantro or parsley, wait until May and scatter the seeds in the ground directly.
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Two zucchini plants will provide enough squash for one adult the entire summer. Read up on the plants you want to grow and estimate your yields for fresh eating, freezing, and gifting to friends. You can only eat so much zucchini bread before getting sick of it!
The same goes for fully-loaded strawberry pots or expensive blueberry bushes. Look for varieties that produce fruit for a season, as opposed to a single flush that is soon forgotten. It may be better to make the trip to a local U-pick farm to get your fresh berries and fruit if you're limited on space.
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If you end up with too many seeds or an excess of fresh produce, look for a local gardening group. Seed swaps are a fun way to get new varieties for your garden and meet like-minded friends. Make sure you keep track of your swaps, especially if you get unnamed or heirloom varieties.
Having a backyard isn't necessarily a prerequisite to starting a productive garden. Apartment dwellers can easily pot up some fresh herbs to brighten up their weekly suppers, thanks to the simple art of container gardening.
Skip the seeds and buy established plants. Find a plastic or terracotta pot that is roughly twice the size of the nursery pot, and add some good potting soil. Nowadays, self-watering planters make maintenance a breeze. Before you know it, you'll be enjoying cherry tomatoes that are sweeter than any you've ever bought in a store.
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Have you gotten started on your 2021 garden yet? What will you be growing? Share your ideas with us in the comments.