Before getting knee deep in topsoil, it is great to consider these great tips from our Organic Farmer, Derrick Braun.
Before you get into your garden, first plan what you would like to receive from your garden over the growing season. Would you like to have an edible garden, medicinal, ornamental, or a combination? Understanding which plants will be beneficial for you, your family, and your property is the first step in starting the growing season. After you have figured out which direction you would like to proceed, it is time to purchase seeds or starts. Always look for a local source of seed first in order to insure the plants you want in your garden are well suited for your area. For gardeners living between or around the Hudson and Delaware river regions, purchasing from The Hudson Valley Seed Library could be a great place to start looking for seeds.
Some plants require a slightly longer growing season then your region can provide, so check the seed specifications and growing tips to see if starting plants early indoors is the best way to get the most from the plant once its transplanted in to your garden.
Based on your garden’s own unique situation, consider the quality of your soil, amount of light the garden receives, and any vulnerable spots where pests like deer, groundhogs, and rabbits may be an issue. If this is not your first season in your garden, you are probably already aware of your garden’s strengths and weaknesses.
Once goals have been set and a plan is in place, it’s time to dive into the soil. Remove any debris the garden including dead plants. If any plants survived the winter, trim up the dead tops to encourage growth for the coming year. Adding compost, either homemade or purchased is a great way to amend the soil early in the year. It revitalizes the micro biological life in your soil and can be a sufficient nutrient source for your plants to start the season.
There are many hardy vegetable, herb, and ornamental plants that can survive and sometimes thrive in cool spring weather. Perennial herbs like sorrel and chives are some of the first edibles to sprout in the spring. Some annual crops like those in the cabbage family (kale, radishes, and bokchoy etc.), can germinate at low temperatures to allow for a food source early in the year.
Most likely, there will be weeds that are able to take off well before the plants you’ve intended to grow can take root. It is important to be able to identify what these plants are, for in most instances, they are nutrient packed edibles, powerful medicinals, soil builders, alive mulches, or they attract beneficial insects. Remember, these are plants that clearly thrive in your area and can provide sustenance and vitality for you and your soil. In contemporary times weeds have been seen as the gardeners arch nemesis, however back breaking and seemingly endless weeding is the only way to insure a weedless garden without the use of harmful herbicides. So why fight it? “If you can’t beat ’em, eat ’em”
HAPPY GROWING THIS SPRING!