So You Started a Garden. Now What?

Spring fever hits a lot of us this time of year. Many people may have started or re-started a garden. If you planted a garden, what happens next?

Thinning Seed

If your garden is planted by seed, the next step is thinning out your plants. To ensure seeds germinate, it is recommended to plant more than one seed where the specified plant is desired to grow. Because more than one seed is planted, some areas of a garden will likely have multiple seedlings emerge. Once seedlings are about 3 inches high, pull the other seedlings to match the spacing recommendations.  It may be tempting to leave all the seedlings, but too many seedlings in one area will prevent any of the plants from thriving. Each plant has recommended spacing requirements in order to thrive based on its expected maturity size and based on the number of nutrients it absorbs from the ground.

Weeding

Weeds will always grow. It is important to weed a garden frequently. Weeds can overwhelm the garden and can and can deplete the ground of needed nutrients.

There are several tricks to preventing weeds, and my personal favorite is mulch. About a month after planting my garden, I lay down newspapers in large empty areas of the garden. Mulch is placed on top of the newspaper. Both the newspaper and mulch will serve a weed barrier now and will compost down into organic matter for better soil in the future. Avoid dye colored mulch for gardens with edible plants.

Feed Your Plants

It is important to pay attention to what you use to grow your plants. Usually, containers or raised beds typically requires soil to be purchased. Many bags of soil will contain plant fertilizers lasting up to three months. If soil with fertilizer has been recently used, be careful about adding additional supplements to your dirt. Too many nutrients can overwhelm and kill a plant.

Soil test kits can be quite useful to test dirt to determine what nutrients it lacks and how much should be added for optimal growing. One year, I had healthy pepper plants, but no peppers. Some quick research and a tablespoon of Epsom salt around my peppers resulted in baby peppers finally growing. Epsom salt is magnesium and often drained from the soil by plants requiring replacement.

Harvest

Some may think that harvesting what is grown is given since the time was taken to plant the garden.  It may be more of an important step than is realized. The fruit or vegetable is grown all contain seeds. The plant is designed to grow, produce seed and die. If the fruit is left to remain on the stem of the plant, the plant will assume it has done its job to produce seed and will begin to stop producing additional fruit. When the plant is harvested on a daily basis, it will think it has not produced its seed and will continue to make more fruit for the life of the plan.

Going on a vacation during the harvest period? Extend your harvest period by asking friends or family to pick your garden. Friends of ours who do not have the space to grow fresh fruits and vegetables often jump at the chance to get a week’s worth of free produce. Friends and family may learn why gardening is good for the soul by helping you harvest and start their own garden next season.

Published by Hot Mess Press