For some of you, this post may be a little late. But here in Maryland, we've had a CRAZY year so far (and I'm not even talking about the virus or the hornets or any other natural disaster...)
This weather. Not fun.
It has been cold, then rainy, then hot, then rainy, then SNOWING, all the while with insane winds, and right....more rain coming this weekend.
We CANNOT catch a break! BUT-
The garden must go in!
If you are like us and are just starting to get your plants out (or want a few tips to keep in your back pocket for next year), here are a few important steps to make your life easier all summer long:
Do some research. What grows well in your area? Do you have enough space to do a full in-ground garden? What kind of fruits + vegetables do you want to have? This is absolutely where you need to start- I mean, what's the point in planting a whole bunch of things that will die or that you won't eat? #aintnobodygottimeforthat #budgettip
Check the weather. Please, for the love of all things! I know it can be really tricky, but try and choose a day between rain storms and absolutely after the last frost of the season. You don't want your garden to get flooded the day after you plant, and you don't want to have to go cover them up every night that it gets really cold. There is no real "perfect time" to plant, but you do want your plants in the ground before the weather is hitting 60+ degrees consistently (five+ days in a row) and offering days full of sun and evening showers.
Speaking of plants...seeds or young plants? The answer: up to you. Seeds are certainly more work up front, but you have more control over their initial growth and their origin. If you are seeding, I recommend starting this process at least 1-2 months before you think you want to start planting outdoors (again, check recommendations for each kind of plant + what grows well near you). You can put the seeds directly in the ground, but you take a larger gamble on them not producing plants this way. If you choose to buy young plants, be sure to get them as fresh as possible. Growing plants are meant to go in the ground/planter/final resting place almost immediately after they are purchased. If you're local to the Frederick, MD area- we get our plants from H.C. Summers within 1-2 weeks of putting them in the ground. This year we are doing a mix of plants and seeds!
The in-ground vs. planter debate is entirely based on a) what you have space for and b) what you are going to use. Gardening is fun, cost effective, and healthy (in more ways than one!), but the point is mute if you purchase a whole bunch of seeds/plants and let all of the harvest rot or go to waste.
If you're a gardening beginner, I highly suggest starting with a small herb garden (indoor or outdoor). Herbs are a bit harder to kill and really help you hone the skill of tending to something regularly. Plus the payout is amazing and almost immediate! Fresh herbs taste so much better, and are higher in phytochemicals and nutrients!
Let me really help you out with this one- make sure you have ALL of your supplies BEFORE you're ready to plant. I cannot TELL YOU how many times we forget just one thing and have to run back to the store the day we are trying to put everything in the ground (#truestory- this literally happened this past week. No matter how expert you become, it's bound to happen haha). Take a peek at the checklist below if you're a little scatterbrained like the rest of us!
Straw is some of the best weed control we have ever used- support your local farmer, too! We don't like to use weed killer near the garden and the mat is just too much to handle for us #lazygirlgardeners. Straw is easy, natural, and it just works.
Finally, be ok with the process. Some plants won't produce. Some won't taste the same as they do from the store. Some might come out a little funny looking. It will be a lot of hard work! You may have way too much and need to share with your neighbors and friends. My point is this; a garden is a labor of LOVE. Find the joy in the journey and I promise your homegrown produce will taste a whole lot better in the end ;)
If you're a new gardener, let us know! We love to hear how our tips are helping friends near and far. Leave us a comment or send us a message with some photos to email@example.com for a chance to be featured on our #HealthierHabits blog series!
-Fencing materials (stakes | wire, plastic, or mesh netting | wire or zip ties | hammer)
-Tiller + back-up parts (extra belt | gasoline | cable)
-Garden tools (rake | hoe | trowel | large and handheld shovel | gloves [I like these] | large trash bag or bucket for weeds | bucket + watering utensil [we use a red solo cup])
-Potting or garden soil (if desired | if using, we spread ours and till it in just before planting)
-Ash (again, read up on how to best grow certain things. We incorporated some ash from our backyard fire pit to help our beets grow well)
-Pots or lumber to build a raised bed or planter
-Desired garden layout (this helps with planning spacing as well as remembering what is where before fruit starts producing | I jot mine down in a notebook so I don't lose it)
-Seeds and plants (shop local if possible)
-Straw (research local farmers and call around to see who may be selling straw)