I hear the birds and I know spring is on its way. Buried under the mounds of white, the grass is just waiting to grow and when those signs appear, I know it’s time to think about a garden. Tempting juicy tomatoes, fresh corn on the cob and all the peppers or zucchini I can eat are just a few months and a little work away from now. Whether you are a newbie or more tenured with the gardening process, here are a few questions to get you started thinking about the upcoming decisions to make.
*Who will be doing most of the work? If it’s just one person, then start small. Gardening is a great stress reliever but only if it’s enjoyable and not more work. Getting children to help is a wonderful way to increase their interest in different vegetables, but again only if it’s fun, not an overwhelming chore.
*What do you like to eat? Think carefully about the items you want at your fingertips. Look through catalogs or on-line to see different varieties that are best for your growing seasons. Pay attention to the zones on the seed packages for best results. Make a list of items that everyone enjoys and begin to plan your garden lay-out from there. This will also help you decide how much of each variety to plant.
*When are you going to plant seeds? Of course this will vary depending on the weather, but don’t forget to think about family vacations, children’s camp or sporting activities when time may be limited to spend daily in the garden. I seem to have a knack of having things ready in the garden when I’m planning to be away for a few days.
*Decide if this is a garden to enjoy through the summer, or if you want to have enough to preserve for later. Making this decision now will help choose the types and quantity of seed to purchase.
*Another important decision is how much space is available? Is in in the right location for at least 8-10 hours of direct sunlight a day? Is the soil able to be well drained after a rain? If it’s dry, is it close for you to carry water or connect a hose? A general rule of thumb is to water about 10-15 minutes 2-3 times a week so that water can reach the roots of the vegetables, not just the surface.
Growing your own food supply is a very rewarding experience that can be fun for the whole family. Along with spending time together, you will have the peace of mind in knowing the quality of care you share to receive the bounty of produce. Food safety begins in the early spring when you plan your garden design and expectations. Want more information on these topics? Here are some great resources to look at: http://www.extension.umd.edu/growit and Ohioline has many varieties for you to learn about at http://ohioline.osu.edu/lines/vegie.html and for specific questions look for a Master Gardener program near you.
Planning for the Garden, Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension, Wayne County Extension.
Author: Melinda Hill, Family and Consumer Science Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Wayne County
Reviewed by: Christine Kendle, Family and Consumer Science Educator, Ohio State University, Tuscarawas County