Spring has sprung and those with green thumbs are itching to get their gardens started.
Beginning the process of gardening each year is a daunting task and often comes with a lot of unknowns. Is it better to start from a seed or buy plants that have already been started? Does the positioning of light or temperature really matter?
To get some expert advice, we sat down with Johanna George from Drummers Garden Center in Mankato. Whether this is your first or fifth garden, and your goals include plants or veggies, here are some helpful tips to get you started.
First and foremost, the timing of your planting is key. Johanna says that you can start your outdoor garden any time after the last chance of frost, which usually occurs around Mother’s Day. Planting before the last frost can damage the plants growth, so it’s best to wait and be safe.
When deciding which type of vegetation is right for you, consider your comfort and experience level. Most first time gardeners should start with a small garden or container. One of the biggest reasons that people get discouraged with gardening is they try to do too much too fast. For your first garden, pick three to four types of plants and grow from there (pun intended). This will give you a chance to learn as you go without getting overwhelmed but too many things ripening at once. If this is your first garden, Johanna starts with some cool season crops, like radishes or carrots, as they don’t need much care.
Once you’ve selected your crops, you’ll need to put some thought into placement. Do some research on your selected plants and observe the type of sunlight they require. Next, survey your outdoor space for the perfect location. Once you’ve selected the plot for your harvest, it’s essential that you select the right soil. If you’re like me, you grab the first one on the shelf and go about your merry way. I know, I’m ashamed. When you’re shopping for soil, select a good quality soil that is tailored to the environment you’ll be planting in. For example, if you’re growing veggies in a container, buy the soil that is specially formulated for that environment. It will make a huge impact on your outcome. According to Johanna, “soil is your biggest asset”.
If you’re looking for some more hands-on advice, take a look at the website of a garden center near you. Many centers offer free or low-cost classes on a variety of gardening topics, from container gardens to landscaping.
When asked what final piece of advice she would give first time gardeners, Johanna simply responded “Identify your priority and goals and have fun with it. Gardening is a personalized journey and is always ongoing. It’s never too late to have your first garden. It can be as involved, or as small as a tomato pot on the patio.”
Hopefully you’ll take these great tips and adapt them to your needs. If you get stuck, don’t be afraid to reach out to an expert at your local greenhouse or garden center. Happy gardening!