Sunday, April 24, 2011

It’s time to thinking about planting your garden

It’s time to thinking about planting your garden”
Darrel Hammon

It’s about that time of year again to be thinking about gardening—even on the high plains of Wyoming. I don’t know about you, but those gardening catalogs are a bit addictive and sometimes intoxicating. When they come in the mail, I cannot wait to get home, open them up, and then drool over the new varieties and the old standbys. Often, I have to stop myself and think how all of this can grow in my garden.

The first time through, I circle the things I wish I could grow. This sometimes takes a ton of time because of my anxious thoughts about gardening and the potential. About half way through the catalogs, however, rationale thought begins to permeate my mind, especially when I see the hydrangeas and rhododendrons. Reality sets in quickly because I know I cannot grow them where I live today. I can only look back to places I have lived where I could grow them.

So, here are some general tips about gardening:

Planning your garden—For my garden, I try to plan out what I am going to plant, how I am going to plant, where I am going to plant, when I am going to plant, and where I am going to obtain the various plants and seeds. Usually, I already know what I can and cannot grow. There are a zillion—okay maybe not that many—sites about “garden planning.” Just Google the phrase “garden planning,” and many sites will come up, from Better Homes and Gardens to organic gardening.

Preparing the garden—The first thing I know I must do is prepare the garden. I love the thoughts of rototilling the garden, turning over the dingy soil from fall and seeing the new dirt come to the surface. What I like to do is turn it over first and then add manure, compost, or whatever you might put in to enhance the dirt. Check with your local nursery about the soil composition in order to understand how to prepare the soil. Then, I till it once more. Often, I do this in the fall, too, so that the compost and manure has time to decompose during the winter.

Note: If you want to know more about how to compost, there are several sites that will direct you, but one that might be easiest is This site states it is “designed to be a hub for all composting information.” And they are correct. On this site, you will find a plethora of articles and links to other sites in helping you learn how to compost. Plus, if you Google the word “composting,” you will discover a multitude of other sites that will dispense vast composting knowledge to you.

Buying seeds and plants—This may be one of the most difficult things to do, primarily because you need to be a realist. A good way to find out is to call your local conservation district, agriculture extension office, or go to your local nursery to see what types of plants and seeds actually can grow in your area. But buying seeds and plants can be fun. When you go to your local nursery, you can be almost guaranteed—and sometimes they guarantee them—these plants will grow. Be sure to read the labels on the plants and the back of the seed packages and ask loads of questions of the nursery people before buying. Nursery people love to answer questions. Remember: their success depends on your success.

Planting seeds and plants—To me, this is the best part—getting my hand dirty. Since I have already planned out my garden and tilled it, I begin the ritual of planting the seeds. Even though I have planted gardens almost every year of my life, I always read the backs of the packages and the little information things stuck in the plants. I want to make sure I know what I am doing. Now, I don’t plant everything at once. Some things can be planted in early spring, depending on your area, and others need to be planted once the frost leaves the ground or the temperatures stay at a certain spot on the trusty thermometer.

Taking care of the garden—Once everything is planted, both seeds and plants, the real work begins. For some reason, especially at my house, one major challenge is weeds seem to thrive. With the winds come all sorts of weird seeds that get plopped everywhere, and it seems that those little weed seeds can grow anywhere. Be sure to visit with your nursery persons to determine the best way to rid your garden of these pesky weeds. But you have to be on top of it at all times because if the weeds get ahead of you, you have lost the battle, and your harvest won’t be as great as you anticipated in the beginning. Have your hoe handy.

Enjoying the fruits of the garden –This part is one of my favorites, too. I love to watch my seeds and my plants grow up and begin to flourish. There is nothing better than fresh Swish chard and early peas right out of the garden. Early-bearing strawberries are mouthwatering. Half the time, strawberries don’t make it inside because of how tempting they are. Soon, the corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, potatoes, and other delicious vegetables show their worth and add to your meals and your palates.

Enjoying the flowers—Plus, the flowers, both perennials and annuals, are magnificent, especially if you purchase both early flowering and later flowering plants. That way you will have gorgeous flowers throughout the entire summer and into the fall. Take some time and pick a bouquet of flowers to adorn your table. Because I love seeds, I let the flowers go to seed so I can harvest the seeds for future plantings.

Gardens, both flower and vegetable gardens, create a sense of worth and enjoyment. For me, working in the garden is simultaneous stimulating and peaceful. It gives me a sense of accomplishment as I look over the garden and see the fruits of my labors.

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