It is time to start your garden . . . or at least start your garden seeds.
If you haven’t thought of it yet, now is a good time to figure out what you want to grow and how much you want to grow. Whether you are a hobby gardener or growing a garden to feed your family or something in between now is the time to start.
So what do you need?
First, someplace to grow. Whether it is a large pot, a raised garden bed, or a heavily amended fenced-in area (like what we are attempting this year), it doesn’t matter. Work with what you have. Containers are perfect for apartments or on patio/decks where quick access is important. Raised garden beds are highly recommended in any area. I usually recommend starting with a 3’ x 5’ size, you can easily access it from any size. Also raised beds are perfect for areas that have non-ideal soil conditions (Colorado soils need to be heavily amended because of the lack of nutrients and organic matter). The last option is in the ground gardening, I really only recommend this for large planting areas or for crops, like corn and squash, that take up a lot of room. BUT remember you will need to heavily amend the soil before planting.
Now that you know where you are going to plant, you will need to get materials to plant. Obviously seeds, but you also need something to plant those seeds in. For container gardens, any planting mix will work, but for raised garden beds and in the ground beds you don’t want to completely replace the existing soil completely. Without knowing your soil composition, compost and manure mix is the safest amendment for any planting area. If your soil has a lot more sand in it you will want to add peat to the mix and there are definitely some plants that want more of a peat mix anyway.
Throughout the growing season, you will want fertilizer to add to your plants. It is more of a personal preference whether you want to use a granular or liquid fertilizer. Granular tend to be more slow release and need to be applied less often but are harder for the plants (especially when young) to absorb the nutrients. Liquid fertilizers need to be applied more often but are easier for the plants to absorb.
The key thing to remember with fertilizer is the numbers . . . . you will see a combination of numbers at the bottom of a fertilizer; i.e. 5-10-5. Just remember the phrase “up – down – all around”. The first number encourages upward growth, so it helps with leaf and stem growth. The second number goes down, so it encourages root growth. The third is all-over growth, so it tends to help with fruit and bloom growth. The higher the number the more it encourages the specific function of the fertilizer.
Oh yeah . . . tools! The basics are a trowel or shovel for planting and a hose or water bucket. With those 2 items, you can plant almost anything. But if you are wanting to invest a little more, some of my favorites are a hori-hori, soaker hoses, and garden sheers. A hori-hori, in case you haven’t heard of it before, is a trowel and weeder in one. Soaker hoses wrapped around plants and planting beds helps with getting consistent water to plants. And garden sheers are great for both cleaning up plants as well as at harvest time. Some gardeners prefer to use gloves, admittedly I only wear gloves when I am working with wood or thorns, mostly because I have petite hands and it is hard for me to find gloves that fit properly. So now is the time for you to help me . . . what gloves do you use?
Now you have all the basics. BUT, if you are starting seeds inside remember you may need a few other materials, like seed starting trays and a rack or someplace to put the seed trays (we have cats so we needed to protect our seedlings with a covered rack system).
Good luck and happy gardening!