How Gardens Transform a Space
If you are an avid gardener with limited space or a beginner with an interest in growing your own fruits and vegetables, a container garden is a great option. A lot of us live in urban spaces where a backyard may be on your wish-list but not yet a reality. Transform your outdoor space to improve your immediate surroundings and increase time spent outdoors. Gardens are good for relaxing and getting your hands in the dirt. Not to mention adding diversity to your diet with fresh produce that is nutritious and yummy. Here are a few tips on how to get your garden growing.
How to choose the right seeds There are some great garden plants to choose from and it can vary depending on how much time and space you can dedicate to your container or garden planter box. Home herb gardens are a lovely option and easy to select seeds for, taking in consideration the temperature and amount of sun for your growing area. Rosemary, basil, oregano and thyme are popular choices, can be started from seed and have a short growing time before you can start adding these fresh herbs to add fresh flavor to your meals. If you have larger containers that can hold a 5 gallon bucket amount of dirt, then tomatoes, bell peppers and cucumbers are a good intermediate option. These vegetables are great to start from seedlings and although they take longer to grow than herbs, they will produce a good quantity of food throughout the summer seasons.
Garden tools make a difference Having a small garden kit with tools and gloves will make the most of your time and save your hands from painful blisters. A small hand shovel and a hand rake are two good items to move the dirt around and prepare the soil for planting. Investing in a sturdy pair of garden gloves for $5-$7 dollars will save your hands from blisters and bites from ants, and also keep your hands clean if you need to answer a phone call while working in your garden oasis. As you gather your garden tools, it is also a great idea to purchase a small canvas bag with plenty of pockets to keep seeds dry and store your tools when they are not being used.
Best Potting Soil An organic soil/compost mix is ideal for getting seeds started or supporting growth of young seedlings. There are many choices available at garden centers and if you can support a local feed and seed or hardware store, even better! We have purchased the BACCTO organic premium potting soil and Black Kow organic composted bull manure. Read the instructions on the bag for best mixing percentages, ours recommended a 30/70 ratio for the size of our containers. Bags of soil come in sizes of 1 cubic foot which can weight about 40 pounds. To avoid injury and back pain that evening, please lift bags carefully and ask for assistance if necessary. Depending on the number of planting containers, you may need to estimate having a bit more soil on hand to make sure you have enough to cover the seeds and top-off containers.
Prepare garden soil for planting The directions on the soil and additives packaging for preparing the soil mixture are a great place to start. Also a quick google search can navigate you to resources for additional information. A local Ag center website or home garden blog are good for tips and helpful suggestions for your specific growing conditions. Having a small bucket or container to pre-mix the soil and additives is a good step to ensuring the proper ratio and that your seedlings will not get fertilizer burn which is a common issue when just getting started. The benefits of mixing the soil by hand in the container are two fold, aerating the soil and breaking up any clumps that may be two large for the seeds you are potting. Once you have mixed the soil and additives well, your soil is ready to be transferred to the containers you will be using for planting.
Garden tip: looking for low cost containers? Most landscaping projects correspond with the start of local growing seasons. So reach out to neighbors or tour the sidewalks near a new home construction on the weekends for reusable containers that are left on the curb after a yard landscaping project.
Time to Plant Now that you have chosen seeds and prepared the soil, you are ready to plant and will soon be able to harvest delicious vegetables from your container garden. Each seed packet will have directions as to how deep to plant the seed and how much sun it needs to grow. Most types of vegetables such as the ones we mentioned: cucumbers, bell peppers and tomatoes like full sun. Shade garden plants are usually herbs such as basil or oregano which have softer leaves and enjoy partial shaded sun throughout the day. A bit of planning of placement will ensure your plants get the sun that is best for growing. This is one of the many benefits of a container garden as you can watch where the sun is and move your plants to make the most of their potential. You can even stagger plant containers so they provide shade for plants that prefer less sun.
When to plant a garden To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow … taking your time in the beginning to plan your space will pay off in the long run. Visit a garden store to ask questions, or visit a website to learn about types of gardening and for home garden ideas. The growing season may begin earlier than you might expect. Seeds are safe underground from moderately cool temperatures and once outdoor temps start hovering around 60-degrees you can comfortably start planting.
Garden tip: Concerned about a cold snap after planting seeds? Container gardens are great because you can move them indoors at a moment’s notice or into a more sheltered space to protect plants from cold weather.
Garden goals From a flower garden for butterflies, bees and birds to a vegetable or herb garden to provide healthy food options, a container garden is a fun way to spend time outdoors. Bring a friend, enjoy time with your pets, drink some iced tea or lemonade and get started on your summer garden. With a few simple steps like using the best potting soil, considering garden design, and understanding the basics of soil preparation you will be enjoying your garden for years to come. Raised garden beds can be built from scrap wood available at your local lumber mill. You are ready to grab your hand tools and prepare garden soil for planting.