Gardening 101: Looking Ahead Through 2013

Posted on Dec 28, 2012

First things first. We hope you have had a wonderful holiday season and that the coming year will be one of peace, good health and happiness for you and your family and friends.
Now, onto planning for a great 2013! Do you enjoy growing a vegetable garden every year? Are you thinking about having one for the first time this year? There are many reasons for having a vegetable garden, not the least of which are: 1) the immense feeling of satisfaction achieved from growing your own; 2) the incredible time you can spend with each member of your family, with the teaching moments making for a lifetime of memories and responsible behavior; 3) knowing that what you have grown is healthy and safe for your family to eat; and 4) the physical activity it takes to keep a garden growing will keep you and your family in better shape, as will eating healthier. So, what are your reasons?
If you’ve decided to have a garden this spring, whatever your gardening prowess or inexperience may be, it always helps to have a plan. We will try to help by doing a series of articles on week-by-week gardening, concentrating on the prep work that can be done before the last frost date, the date when you can actually begin planting your garden.
Look for our articles starting the last Friday of January, right here in the Agricultural Section, and appearing on the last Friday of each month through May. By following these simple guidelines, getting your garden ready should be relatively easy, stress-free and pain-free (in case you normally try to do all of your garden prep in one weekend). May 28 is normally our last frost date for this area, so by the time we’ve published the last article, you should be ready to either plant the live plants you’ve ordered or transplant the seedlings you’ve been growing in preparation for this time. You can direct-plant many seeds right into your garden plot well before the last frost date, so read seed packets for cold hardiness and planting instructions for each specific vegetable.
You can actually get started on your next garden right now. If you know, for example, that your hoses need some repair work or that you broke one of your favorite garden tools last summer, now is the time to repair or replace those. On the other hand, if you’ve never gardened before and you know you will need some tools, now may be the time to purchase them. The prices on these items are generally higher during the growing season and planning ahead will ensure you have what you need when you need it.
At the very least, take inventory of what you have in the way of garden tools and seed-starting supplies. Make a list and check it twice; keep it someplace handy so you can add to it as you think of things. And definitely start considering what you’ll want to plant and where you’d like your garden to be.
If this spring is the first year you’ll be planting a garden, we recommend you start moderately. A garden can be a lot of work, and most of the huge gardens you see throughout the community have been a work-in-progress for years. We’ve heard stories of numerous first-time gardeners giving up halfway through their first season, having bitten off more than they could possibly chew. A good way to decide if gardening is for you is to start with the basics, such as a few green bean vines, a couple of tomato plants, a little lettuce, a few cucumber plants, a row or two of sweet corn and a few different sweet and hot peppers. Grow what your family normally eats and grow just a few plants of two or three different varieties to get a feel for what specific types you like best. You can even get your children involved, having them help to start seedlings. A garden can be a fantastic summer activity for children of all ages.
So, we look forward to sharing our gardening expertise with you, hoping you will benefit from what we have so painstakingly learned through trial, error and many years of experience, as well as from our neighbors and friends throughout the area and around the U.S.
Look for our first in this series of gardening tips on January 25, 2013, and Happy New Year!
This series of articles is sponsored by Garden Harvest Supply. You can find them online here: www.gardenharvestsupply.com.

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