Whether you’re a first-time gardener or preparing your flower beds like you’ve done for years, here are some helpful hints to make sure you’re ready to plant when your flower and vegetable plants arrive!
Location is key!
While those of you with long-standing gardens or flower beds may not be able to move them, new gardeners will want to think about where they are going to plant. Here are some beginner tips:
- Be near a water source. This will be helpful in the long, dry days of summer when rainfall isn’t enough.
- Make sure your location is convenient. A spot near your home will help you remember to harvest your crops and tend to the garden or flower bed.
- Choose the right plants. Sun requirements vary from plant to plant; some do best in full sun while other plants prefer at least some shade during the day. Choose plants for your location based on their sun or shade needs.
- Mulch early to save time and water. Once you’re done planting, apply 1-2 inches of mulch to retain moisture in the soil and prevent weeds from taking over. Don’t use freshly ground wood mulch, as that will tie up the nutrients as it decomposes.
- Consider rejuvenating your soil by amending organic compost to your planting bed. Doing this will be particularly crucial if it hasn’t been done in a few seasons. All planting beds become depleted of nutrients over time especially if you use synthetic fertilizers.
- Get a soil test! While it might not be the first thing you think of, a soil test can be very valuable in determining whether your location is suitable for plant growth plus it may save you frustration and confusion later in the season if you begin to notice plant problems.
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So you’ve picked your location…now what? Here are some important things to keep in mind:
Draw out a plan!
- Pick a size that works for you. Some gardeners can be overwhelmed by a huge garden, so start small! Learn what works for you and increase the size of your garden or flower beds as the years go by.
- Start easy and advance. The only thing you might wind up with if you plant the most finicky vegetables or flowers your first time out is a headache. Remember, it’s okay to start with easy-to-grow plants and slowly start working your way to the more challenging ones over time.
- Plant what you need. Especially where vegetables are concerned, you don’t have to grow enough to fill a grocery store produce section. Figure out what your family needs and start there.
- Learn about your plants. Most cool-season crops (lettuce, spinach, radishes) can easily be started from seeds, while warm-season crops (tomatoes and peppers) take longer to mature, so transplants might be a better option. Do your research.
- Draw it out and keep records. For some gardeners, drawing the layout of their garden or flower bed can help determine the best design to capitalize on colors or give you a better handle on how much space is available for each crop. Once you’ve planted, you may want to keep track of important information in a garden diary (planting dates, disease problems and how you handled them, quality and quantity of harvest) to help you improve your gardens in the future.
Get your tools!
Here are just a few “must-have’s” for every gardener!
- Garden tools
- Seeds and transplants
- Staking materials
- Protection from wildlife
Of course, Bluemel’s Garden & Landscape Center carries all the tools you will need to have a successful gardening season. Plus, we are always on hand if you have questions or concerns. Know that we will be with you every step of the way!