The years seems to go by so quickly but the winter months linger and sometimes the hope of spring comes in a tiny, green spark of perseverance from a newly planted seed that reminds us that new life is just around the corner.
After winter lingers, spring speeds by as the last snow melts, the flowers begin to break through the soil and the warmer breezes blow. And for garden lovers, our thoughts quickly turn to the coming summer days in the garden surrounded by homegrown goodness.
So what needs to be done to prepare for spring vegetables? What should be planted and when? And how do you prepare your garden?
Well, to start, I encourage you to read the article “Why You Absolutely MUST Do A No-Till Garden”. Your garden will thank you immensely for protecting and feeding the soil.
It is also so very important to also understand why your garden may get weeds and how to prevent it. It’s fascinating and worth reading: Why Your Garden Has Weeds and How to Fix It.
All of this information is included in our free resource library in a neat and handy printable PDF: Spring Vegetables.
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This spring you can plan to have great success in your garden this year.
First off, PREPARE:
• Know your planting ZONE
By knowing your planting zone, your seed packets will give you an idea which plants need to be started indoors to give enough time for growth and and to grow produce before the first frost in your area. Find your zone here.
• Start your seeds indoors
Knowing your zone and weather patterns will help determine which plants to start indoors. Usually it is 6-8 (sometimes 12) weeks before the last frost. This will give them the necessary advantage in having enough time to grow and produce vegetables before the first frost in the fall.
• Gather mulch
When using the no-till method, mulch is your absolute best friend in the garden. Mulch of leaves, straw, or grass not only keep your soil wet and the weeds suppressed but also provides food for all the necessary microorganisms. And as your garden grows in health you will actually need to provide more mulch (nutrients) to feed the growing host of fungi and bacteria in your soil.
There is much more to your garden than meets the eye.
And these microorganisms will give health, strength and vitality to your garden. The health of our bodies, families and nation begins with the soil. We must take it seriously.
After you are prepared and the weather is warm enough, you will begin to PLANT:
• Companion Planting
There are a few key aspects to think about as you begin to plant your spring vegetables. If you have never utilized the benefits of companion planting, I urge you to begin. There are so many benefits to companion planting, you don’t want to miss them!
• Mulch as you plant
With the mulch you have gathered, use it now! It will protect your soil, feed your plants and also feed the microorganisms in the soil.
• Plant spring vegetables
As the weather warms in the spring you can begin by planting these delicious spring vegetables. They are cold hardy and some can even withstand freezing temperatures.
• BRUSSELS SPROUTS
• SWISS CHARD
• MUSTARD GREENS
• GREEN ONIONS
• Plant summer vegetables
Your summer planting will be all the vegetables that cannot withstand any cold temperatures at all. These would be:
And of course, after your spring and summer vegetables are carefully arranged, planted and mulched, you will need to CARE for them.
• Water only after using the “finger test” method
The idea behind the “finger test” method is to not over or under water your garden. To know when you should water, pull aside your mulch, stick your finger down into the dirt, if it comes out wet, do not water and if it comes out dry, water! The mulch you have placed will keep your soil wonderfully wet and you will water much less often, both conserving water and your vegetables, which do not like to be over…or under…watered.
• Fertilize with compost
Your garden will benefit from compost and compost tea. Again, the microorganisms need to be fed because they are what bring health to your vegetables.
• Cut off weeds below the dirt, leave the root in ground, use leaves for mulch
When you do find a weed, do not frown upon it too deeply. Remember, weeds tell a story and they are invaluable. Cut the top off of the weed just below the dirt and leave the root in the soil. The root is organic matter that will help break up your soil and the leaves can be used as mulch. Do try to catch your weeds before they go to seed to prevent the spreed of more weeds in your garden area.
• Watch for pests
Stay on top of the pests that will try to take advantage of your garden. The techniques explained on this page which will be put into action in your garden this year, will aide you in pest control and prevention, which is very good news! Companion planting helps by confusing for instance, the cabbage white butterfly from laying eggs on your broccoli. Use natural treatments and stay ahead of the damage the pests can do.
• Harvest often and in the morning
When vegetables really start to grow, it can be hard to stay on top of all the harvesting. But if you keep at it often it won’t be as overwhelming and your vegetables won’t spoil. If you harvest in the cool of the morning your vegetables will also be at their peak and you will have all day to tend to them as you can, freeze and preserve them.
You almost break a sweat just reading all of that, don’t you? But even now I can feel the heat of the sun on my arms, feel the dirt under my fingernails and smell that tomato smell as I brush up against their leaves.
Man, it feels good. We each can take responsibilities for our health by tending to our gardens, and more importantly, our soil. Our soil is our future. And this year as you plant your spring vegetables, you can experience for yourself how healthy your garden can be.
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