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It’s Not Too Late to Start a Garden!

It’s hard to believe that the informal beginning of Summer (aka Memorial Day) is just a few weeks away.  It seems like the year is flying by!  If you think it’s too late in the year to start a garden, I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong!  You still have plenty of time to grow some of your own vegetables and herbs!  If you are a parent, this is an excellent opportunity to show your kids how things grow, where food comes from, and how to take care of plants.  It can be an ongoing science lesson throughout the summer.  If you like to cook, growing your own fresh herbs can save money at the grocery store.  I love adding fresh herbs to many of my recipes.

If you’ve never gardened before, I encourage you to start small.  A couple of pots or containers are all you need to grow tomatoes, peppers, or different herbs.  A flower box is an ideal size to grow lettuce, small root veggies like radishes, herbs, or …. flowers!  Basil, parsley and cilantro are easy to grow and are a great “starter plant” for little gardeners.  If you want to grow peppers or tomatoes, both work well in a large pot (at least big enough to hold 6 quarts).  Remember to also purchase a cage or a couple of stakes to support a growing tomato plant.  If you choose to grow tomatoes using one of the “upside down” planters on the market, be sure that you have adequate support.  I needed two wrought iron hooks to support the one I used last year, placing them at a 90 degree angle to each other.

If you want to grow cucumbers, zucchini, or melons, I suggest you grow these directly from the ground.  Even the busy variety of cucumbers can spread out quite a bit, so be sure that you have plenty of room.  A tilled area that measures 4×8 feet (about 1.2x 1.8 meters) is large enough to grow three vining plants (like cucumbers or melons) with wire fencing for the vines to climb.  You can also plant some faster-growing, smaller plants (lettuce, radishes, carrots, scallions, parsley, etc.) around the edges of the garden.   An expert at your local garden center can point you in the right direction.

Before you start your garden project, here are a few pointers:

  1. Make sure that the area you select for your in-ground garden plot gets plenty of sunlight — at least six to seven hours a day is ideal.  The area where you place your containers or potted veggies should get that much sunlight as well.
  2. If you are container gardening, use a moisture-control soil mixture.  Containers are affected more by changes in temperature. 
  3. Select seeds (organic if possible) that are appropriate for your area of the country.
  4. If you are starting a garden plot from scratch, consider purchasing some topsoil and compost to enrich your garden area.  It will give the plants adequate nutrients so that they will be strong and healthy.
  5. Use an organic fertilizer.  If container gardening, mix a small amount of organic fertilizer into the soil before adding seeds or plants.
  6. Choose starter plants that are green and appear strong and healthy.
  7. Consider planting some flowers, too.
  8. HAVE FUN!

Having a garden can be fun for kids of all ages.  It gives you an excuse to go out and get fresh air and will give the kids a chance to see the fruits (or vegetables) of their labor.

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