Celebrate Earth Month! 7 Tips for New Gardeners
The air is warming and the ground is defrosting- it’s time to start planting for the Spring/Summer season. April is Earth Month, a time for trying new things, for planting seeds. Here at Bloomin’ we know seeds, and we know how hard it can be to green your thumb with no practice under your belt. In honor of sowing the seeds of change here are 7 helpful tips for new gardeners:
1. Decide what you are doing with your garden: Is it for show? is it for food? Is it for herbs? Consider how you will be able to care for this garden- do you have time to maintain squash vines, or would something like mint be better because it requires little to no maintenance? Personal and financial availability will help you to pick out your first set of crops.
2. Watch the sun: In order to decide where to place your plot you will need to take an afternoon and watch your land. Track the sun and see which areas get the most sunlight and which get the least. Plant accordingly- for example, some plants grow better in partial shade, like leafy greens and broccoli, while other plants soak up the sun, like tomatoes and peppers.
3. Check your soil: Soil is like our scalps. Just as healthy hair starts at the roots, so do healthy plants. When starting a garden for the first time a great thing to do is to test the nitrogen/carbon levels and the acidity/alkalinity of the soil. Certain plants will favor more acidic soil, while some will favor more alkaline soil. You can either fix the soil, replace the soil, or choose plants that are suited to that growing environment
4. Consider your plants: After taking tips 1-3 into consideration, the time has come to pick your plants! Put some serious thought into designing the layout before planting. Research your plants- see what type of environment they enjoy and try to create that microclimate within your personal plot. Put the tomato plants in part of the plot that gets full sun all day, and your broccoli in the corner that gets sun in the morning and late afternoon. Also look into companion plants, which are plants that are complimentary to another and aid in pest control, vitamin and mineral replacement, soil rejuvenation, crop productivity, and making use of space. The smell of Marigold flowers, for example, are thought to keep large insects off of crops.
5. Look into easy seed starter ideas: Seed starter kits can be expensive and time consuming. There are so many household items that are great seed starters and also biodegradable! Egg shells, egg cartons, avocado shells, grapefruit halves, toilet paper rolls, and recycled newspaper (not preferred because of inks) are just a few items laying around that can be put to great gardening use! Plant your seeds according to whether they are cool weather plants or hot weather plants- start out with your cool weather spring crops. May-June is a great time to start your hot weather plants. Don’t forget to replant cool weather plants for a second season in the fall!
6. DIY Seed Tape: It can be difficult to space out plants perfectly and to keep track of which plants need how much spacing. Seed Tape is a great way to prepare your rows of crops before losing sight of the seeds in the soil. All you need are the seeds, (organic if growing food) toilet paper, and paste made from flower and water. Here is a great video for DIY Seed Tape: http://www.ktvb.com/features/you-can-grow-it-making-seed-tapes/112799047
7. Keep a Gardening Journal: This is your first year- this is an experiment! Keep track of your process and your progress. Mark down what does and doesn’t work. Track how the sun changes throughout the shifting seasons. This journal will be gold when trying to plant again after a long winter season.
As the human population continues to grow the pollinator population continues to dwindle, which greatly affects food production and water availability. Now more than ever is the perfect time to start growing your own food. We hope these tips will help start off your first garden, whether or not it began with some tomato seed paper!