04 May 2014 The Love of Gardening … Oh Wait, How Much Squash Do I Need?
Spring has sprung and we can finally go outside without being cold! I had almost forgotten, after this winter, what it is like to be warmed by the sun. But, as I sit outside on my deck and soak up the sun… I am remembering how good it actually feels.
It is an absolutely gorgeous time of the year when plants are sprouting, buds are flowering and it’s that time to plant the green beans.
For myself and many others… we share the love of all things gardening. And here in Nashville, it is sometimes a mad dash to get the preparation and planting done before summer is here and we run out of time or it gets just too hot.
So to help you streamline the work and time needed for a bountiful and beautiful garden…. here are our top tips for getting organized for your gardening plans! This is also to help you not have that sinking feeling of ‘ok maybe I should have thought of that before I started’:
- Know what you already have. I’ve done it before too. I get so excited looking at all the rows of plants and buy everything I see without thinking. It is like I am a kid in a candy store and anything goes …flowering trees, boxwoods, peonies, herbs, veggies, and perennials in hues of pink and blue. So before you go to the store and get distracted, take inventory in your yard of what you already have and what you really need or want to try differently… and do some research on plants and their mature sizes.
- Know what each plant will do. Have you ever said, ‘I didn’t realize it would grow this big or produce this much!‘ Most plants purchased are much smaller than they will eventually grow and it is very hard to visualize the spacing and full heights of the mature plant. The good news is… that plants are mostly predictable in how big they will grow. It may be helpful to make a spacing template to place on the ground when planting. You can put it between each plant so multiples are uniform when growing. It will be most helpful to ask the nursery about the spacing required for each plant or briefly research it on the internet. Also, as tempting as it may be to plant several rows of cucumbers… it may be good to know how many cucumbers actually are produced from a single plant or you may have dozens by mid summer.
- Know how much care is needed. It is also important to research how much care actually goes into the planting process…prepping the soil, planting the plants, watering the plants, weeding and pruning, and did I mention watering the plants?
- Know how much watering the plants need. Some things to think about include if you have existing irrigation…can you add lines or zones for these new plants? Do the plants need to be hand watered every day and …will that be you? What is your water budget and can it manage a higher bill? One consideration is to look for drought tolerant plants or native plants that easily acclimate without a lot of watering. Hours of extra watering during the warmer months can not only be wasteful, but also increase your water bill and take extra money out of your wallet…which could have gone towards that trip to the beach.
- Know your zone. Speaking of trips…while away, you may see new plants and want to have them in your yard. There are many mail order and online catalogs and nurseries that sell every plant one could want. While this is intriguing, you have to check the hardiness of the plant for your zone. Check online to see what zone you live in. Nashville, for example, is Zone 7. Plants that are sold typically state which zones they can live in but if you try to plant something in the wrong zone, odds are it won’t be successful.
- Know your budget. Having a plan of where you want to add new plants, and evaluating your resources can be much more budget friendly than going on a shopping spree at the garden center. It’s kind of like grocery shopping on an empty stomach without a list. Not that you can’t splurge here or there or take a chance on something interesting, but going in with a plan means you just might have some funds left over for mulch, water and garden gnomes.
- Know how much time you have. Sometimes the excitement gets away from us and we over commit to our yard with vegetables, potted plants, outdoor decor and more. Thinking ahead to actually enjoying your yard, don’t plan so much that all of your free time is eaten with care & maintenance and no time is left for relaxing and appreciating what you have created!
So think a little differently about preparing for your gardening projects, in a good way, and ensure an enjoyable garden all season.
*Big thanks to Emmi Simpson for contributing to this post!