The birds are chirping, the sun is shining, the peepers are peeping, the flowers are blooming. So thrilled to say that spring is finally here. It was a little touch and go for a bit, but we’re back on track again.
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If you’re like me, you’re probably raring to get your garden started! For the last month or so, I’ve been leafing through heirloom plant catalogs dreaming about sunshine and planting my vegetable garden. Here’s a few of my heirloom favorites: watermelon radishes, green zebra tomatoes and sweet chocolate peppers.
At this point, it’s still a little early to start planting your veggie garden unless you’re planting peas, leafy greens and root crops such as beets, carrots and parsnips. There’s still plenty of time to purchase seeds and grow your own plants if you don’t want to buy vegetable plants in mid-May.
If you’re starting seedlings on a budget, buy a bunch of seeds and a bag of soil. Fill the 12 slots of an empty egg carton with soil and plant a couple of each kind of seed into each slot. Water daily and make sure the seedlings get direct sunlight for several hours a day. After a week or less, tiny green seedlings will start to sprout and eventually the plants will be big enough to put into the ground.
This year I’ve decided to save myself some trouble and just buy vegetable plants in May. I don’t have much extra room by any sunny windows to store the seedlings as they grow.
If you have a garden or raised beds, take the next few weeks to tear out any weeds or old plants from last year. Turn the soil and aerate it as much as possible. Now is the time to put compost down – till the soil so it’s well mixed and the nutrients are spread throughout.
Many companies have raised bed kits that can be purchased and put together. If you want to construct raised beds on a budget, find a few old pallets and pull the boards apart. Make four walls by nailing the recycled boards back together. If you’re not sure what kinds of wildlife might be around your yard, I’d suggest getting some plastic fencing to staple to the garden walls to deter pests.
To insure that the ground is fully thawed and that there will not be another frost, most people recommend waiting till Memorial Day to put tender annuals in the ground such as tomatoes, peppers, squash, etc. Once you start planting vegetables, be sure to follow the specific instructions on the seed packet or on the plant tag about how far to space plants and how often to water.
If you’re looking for vegetable garden inspiration, here’s three suggestions:
- The Weekapaug Community Garden at the top of Noyes Neck Road, just off Shore Road,
- The Westerly Land Trust Community Garden at 177 Main Street in downtown.
- The Stonington Human Services Community Garden behind the Human Services department on South Broad Street in Pawcatuck, just before the high school.
Gardeners are often friendly people (take it from me) and love talking about their garden and what new techniques or plants they’re using this year. If you stop at any of the community gardens and see someone tending their plot, don’t be afraid to ask them questions – they probably know the answer and are likely willing to chat and offer advice.
If you’re looking for places for professional gardening advice or want to get vegetable plants, seeds, soil, compost, garden tools and more, stop in at:
- Agway, 31 Friendship Street
- Pleasant Acres Nursery, 130 Franklin Street
- Broadview Florist and Garden Center, 5 Langworthy Road