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Early Spring Gardening Tips

Updated on January 8, 2015

Random Thoughts Before We Begin

The genesis for this article came from several comments I have read on previous gardening articles I have written. Quite often I have had people say that they just don’t have the time to dig out a vegetable garden, or they don’t have the space for a garden. Some have said they don’t have the lumber necessary for a raised bed and some have said a greenhouse wouldn’t work for them. Still others are strapped for funds and can’t afford a showcase garden.

Since I firmly believe that everyone who wants a garden should be able to have one, I have thrown together a few ideas you may not have seen before. Hopefully these ideas will give some of you who do not have a garden some alternative ideas that will allow you to have one.

When to Plant

Frost is a killer for most vegetables, so consult the map below to get a rough idea of when to plant. Remember, the dates shown on the map are based on national averages and may differ depending on your exact location.

Dates of last frost in U.S.
Dates of last frost in U.S. | Source

How to build video

Vertical pallet garden
Vertical pallet garden | Source
Our garden is just about ready
Our garden is just about ready | Source

How to Build a Vertical Garden

If you want a great alternative that takes up very little space and can actually be used on patios and decks, then the vertical garden is for you.

Supplies you will need:

· One large pallet 40”x48” although any size will work

· One roll of landscape fabric

· Two large bags of potting soil

· Staple gun

· Staples

· Plants

Steps for building the vertical garden:

1. Decide which side you want facing out from the wall. This will usually be the side with the most slats.

2. Lay that side down on a flat surface. You will now want to cut the fabric so that it will cover the sides, bottom, and back of the pallet.

3. Staple the fabric so that it completely covers the sides, back and bottom. Do not be shy about using more staples than are necessary. You want the fabric on tight.

4. When you have stapled the fabric on, you should have the top of the pallet open as well as the planting side that was facing down.

5. Turn the pallet over so that it lays flat with the fabric side facing down and you are ready to plant. Pour the bags of topsoil over the pallet openings and use your hands to spread it around so it evenly fills the pallet.

6. Start planting your plants in the openings. You will want to plant them close together; the closer together that they are, the less likely that dirt will fall out of the openings. Do the same on the open top of the pallet. Once you have the plants pressed into the dirt, add more dirt to further solidify the plants. Remember to water the plants when you are done.

7. When you are done planting, leave the pallet laying flat for a week. This will give the plants a chance to spread some roots and get established.

8. After a week you can stand the pallet up and put it against the wall. From this point on you can water the garden by pouring water into the top and let gravity take over the rest of the watering.

9. What to plant? Strawberries love these vertical gardens, as do pole beans and peas. Nasturtiums are always a good bet, but truthfully practically any plant will do well using this technique.

Planting in Bags

Are you lacking the energy to dig up a new garden space? Are you lacking the lumber to build raised beds? No worries folks because you can just plant in a bag.

Supplies that you will need:

· 40lb bags of topsoil

· Screwdriver or nail

· Cutting knife or scissors

Steps for planting in a bag:

1. Lay the potting soil bags on the ground wherever you want to grow your vegetables.

2. Cut a large window on the top of each bag and peal back the plastic exposing the dirt.

3. Using a screwdriver, poke holes in the bottom of the bag when it is laying down.

4. Plant your vegetables in the topsoil.

Some vegetables that will do quite well using on the bags are lettuce, snap beans, snow beans, radishes, onions and kale. Herbs such as oregano, sage, thyme and rosemary can also be grown in this fashion. When the growing season is done you just roll up the plastic and your garden disappears for the winter.

Up on the Roof

So, you have no yard, but you still want a garden. What do you do? One idea that is gaining popularity is to plant your garden on the roof. Obviously you need a flat roof, but if you have one you have the perfect place to put some containers and enjoy the “heightened” pleasure of gardening.

There is no need to get fancy with this idea. Put an assortment of pots and other containers up on top of that shed, garage or home, and enjoy the fruits of your labor where once you believed it to be impossible.

Can’t Afford Expensive Planters? Then It Is Time to Go to a Garage Sale

I refuse to buy planting containers at a store. Why would I spend that kind of money when all that I need can be found in an hour of visiting garage sales?

My friend Suzie has written an article with some great suggestions for containers. The whole idea is that anything that will hold dirt can be used as a planting container, from an old rubber boot to a kid’s wagon or baby carriage. Get creative….get funky….get with the flow of living frugally!

Are you in the mood to start gardening?

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What to Plant and When

You have done all the preparations and you are ready to plant. Use this handy little guide to help you stay in tune with the natural flow of the season.

Middle Spring: plant onions, beets, lettuce potatoes, snap or snow peas, dill, cilantro, chard, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme.

Late Spring: plant tomatoes, peppers, basil, bush and pole beans, sunflowers, squash.

Midsummer: plant kale, arugula

Late Summer: plant Asian greens, lettuce, turnips, carrots, mixed cover crop of bush beans, peas, oats or mustard.

Late Fall: plant garlic.

Grow Self-seeding Herbs and Vegetables and Never Plant Again

How many of you even knew that this was possible? Many vegetables and herbs will self-seed year after year, saving you the bother of planting again and spending money on new seeds. The toughest part of this process is recognizing the seedlings in the spring so you don’t toss them out with the weeds, but once you learn that then you will have crops in the fall from plants that grew without any help from you. How great is that?

Herbs that are self-seeders: basil, chamomile, cilantro, cutting celery, dill, parsley.

Vegetables that are self-seeders: amaranth, arugula, beets, broccoli raab, carrots, collards, kale, lettuce, orach, mustards, parsnips, pumpkin, radish, rutabaga, tomato, turnips, winter squash.

Flowers that are self-seeding: bachelor button, calendula, celosia, cosmos, nasturtiums, poppies, sunflowers, sweet alyssum, viola.

That’s Enough to Get You Started

So what are you waiting for? With the ideas mentioned above practically anyone who wants a garden can have a garden. Spring is rapidly approaching so start making plans, start collecting what you will need and start dreaming of delicious meals lovingly grown by your very own hands.

Happy Gardening!

2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)


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