Gardening Tips and Tricks for this Spring

Whether you’re starting a new garden or returning to a well-established one, planning is essential for a successful and fun experience. To give your garden the best chance to thrive, take time to get organized at the beginning of your growing season. Here are a few tips for growing a healthy, bountiful garden this spring!

Pay attention to sunlight. What direction does your garden face? In the Northern Hemisphere, south-facing yards and balconies get the most light, while north-facing gardens will almost always be shaded by comparison. Take a look, too, for buildings, trees and other structures that could block light by creating shadows. You may want to locate your vegetable garden in the sunniest spot, even if that’s your front yard.

Choose the right crops for the right place. If you can’t move your garden, work with what you have and choose your crops accordingly. Most salad greens, like spinach and lettuce, will grow happily in partial shade but can really suffer under hot sun. Good soil can help compensate for a less than perfectly located garden.

Take your lifestyle into consideration. If you like to travel, have a busy schedule without much free time or are planning home renovations in the next year, consider adding a smaller, less permanent container garden. An irrigation system with timers is a worthwhile investment if you don’t think you’ll be able to water your garden regularly.

Choose what to plant. Once you have a sense of your goals and capacity, it’s time to choose your plants. Keep your plan simple. Allocate a space for each of your crops, taking into consideration that some plants, like salad greens, need very little room, while others, like pumpkins, can get enormous. If you’re growing in raised beds, consider dividing each bed into tidy sections using string and nails, a method known as square-foot gardening. This technique is especially helpful with salad greens, which do best when planted in small amounts every week or two.

Keep in mind that it’s best to avoid planting the same crop (or a close relative) in the same place year after year. Rotating crops helps prevent soil-borne plant diseases and nutrient deficiencies.

It’s all too easy to get excited about a garden early in the year, only to abandon it weeks later when the work becomes overwhelming. By doing some advance planning, you’ll give your garden the best opportunity to thrive!

WRITTEN IN COLLABORATION WITH REBECCA CUTTLER AND HOUZZ.COM

Exercise Your Green Thumb all year long

Drizzly days that accompany the Pacific Northwest seasonality can take a toll on us. It is important to find ways to stay active and keep your spirits high. Gardening creates a sense of purpose and is a very rewarding activity because it allows people to experience success, build confidence, and connect with their physical environment. It’s very satisfying for seniors with dementia to nurture plants and it’s an activity that people feel naturally connected to.

Transitioning your gardens and raised beds from summer to fall is a great way to keep enjoying the outdoors and keep up your gardening all year long.

Many vegetables thrive in colder months and are also a great way to spruce up your cooking! A few greens that you can enjoy in the fall are spinach, lettuce, and kale.  Don’t forget your favorite root crops such as carrots, beets, onions and radishes.

The beginning of autumn is also an optimal time to begin harvesting herbs like rosemary, basil and sage, which actually develop their strongest flavor before blooming. You can snip them early in the morning and store them somewhere dry. What could be better on a cold afternoon than a warm bowl of soup garnished with fresh herbs from your garden?

If your passion for gardening is fueled by flowers, there are some beautiful annuals that can make your garden come alive with fall color as well. Some good fall annuals include pansies, verbena, and mums, which are great for borders, mass plantings, and containers.

The two most important steps you can take to help make sure your garden and planters are ready for the colder months ahead are:

  1. Add some mulch

Mulching late in the season can block weeds, keep in moisture, and insulate the soil. Mulch also prolongs the growing season, which will allow your garden to prosper. Another tip to remember is that leaves are a great substitute for mulch and can offer the same benefits. They add nutrients and soil as they breakdown. 

  1. Clean up and prune

It is important to trim and check spent plants for pests and diseases. If you do not see any sign of mildew or fungus on existing plants, you can even bury them and let them continue to act as mulch. by Angela Byrge