Gardening Projects

Planning a Garden

Get an Idea Do you want a vegetable garden? Herbs? Fragrant Florals?

Think on it a bit. A good start to any project requires a bit of thought. Think through your plan before you order your seeds and transplants. 

Location, location, location, it really is all about the location. How much sun does it receive? Is it windy? Is it close to the hose or a sprinkler head?  How is the soil?  Does it hold a lot of moisture or not really? Choose your plants accordingly or find a better spot. Fighting against the location and all it brings can get discouraging. Make things easier for yourself so you can enjoy your garden.

Start Small..It's a good idea to start off small so you don't get over-whelmed and discouraged. A few happy plants looks better than a lot of struggling ones.

Clear a spot Get rid of the sod covering the area. You can dig it out or you can smother it. Cover the area with newspaper, a layer of five sheets is usually thick enough or cardboard and wait. Spread a 3-inch layer of compost (or combination of potting soil and topsoil) on the top and wait. It'll take about four months for the compost and paper to decompose. Winter is a perfect time to do this. 

Peruse those garden catalogs while your waiting for the sod to disappear and pick your plants. Pick plants suited to the location check light requirements & water needs. Pick plants that interest you, do you want something a bit different or an old favorite. Build the garden you want.

Put them in the ground Some plants like a bit of cold. If its a vegetable garden; Kale, cabbage, lettuce like the cooler weather. Tomatoes don't. Don't rush to put tomatoes in until the weather is warm late May is best. Most annual flowers prefer warmer weather too. There are some annuals like pansies, primrose, Nemesia that do better in cooler temps. Perennials, shrubs and trees are best planted when its cooler, so they have time to settle in before having to deal with the stress of summer. Most annual seeds can and should be started indoors 4-6 weeks before the last frost. Seedling will need to be "hardened off" Slowly acclumate them to the temperature and light conditions outside.

Water Seedlings should never dry out. They don't have big root systems to with-stand drought. Water daily while they are small. Taper off as the plants get larger. New transplants also need frequent watering—every other day or so—until their roots become established. After that, how often you need to water depends on your soil, how humid your climate is, and how often it rains.

Mulch helps keep weeds out and water in. Cover the soil with 2 inches of mulch Many types of mulch are available, from pine needles to cocoa hulls to bark chips. For a vegetable garden or bed of annuals, choose a mulch that decomposes in a few months. For perennials, use a longer-lasting mulch, such as bark chips.

Keep up the good work. Pull weeds before they get too big, keep your garden well watered and fertilize with a slow release fertilizer. Vegetables and annuals need more fertilizer than perennials and shrubs, since they keep flowering and producing food so fertilize every month. Perennials can be fertilized in the spring and fall. Remember to stop and smell the flowers or whatever you grow.