Before the end of winter, every year, I get antsy for the last spring frost. “A” eats very healthy. However, I’m not the healthiest eater (I’m to get better lol). During grocery store trips it’s normal for me to excuse myself from the checkout line or stop at a different store to pick up the fresh vegetables she likes to eat. But in the summer this isn’t an issue because we can take a short trip to the back yard for fresh veggies. The most exhilarating part about all of this is I know where they were grown and what product was used to keep pests away.
Because it is our objective to grow vegetables all summer long we prepare a few months prior to planting. If you are thinking of starting a garden I hope this help!
Our preference is a raised bed which we (when I say we I mean I lol) built from cinder blocks. Cinder blocks cost between $1.80 and $2.00. This type of bed is easy to “assemble” and very affordable. Additionally, the bed can be formed as large or as small as you like. As an added bonus this option can withstand the elements. At planting time we simply clean out the old plants from the previous year, turn the soil, add more dirt (if needed), and mix in some items for nutrients. Just like that we are ready to plant!
Forming the garden bed is the straightforward task. Researching which veggies/fruit grow best together, when the seeds or seedlings should be planted, how far apart, and how deep for the best results is the laborious job. Normally, I begin planning the garden in March. One would think the information would have been stored away from the previous year but that’s just not how I roll hahahaha. Anyhow, I’m showing my disorganization.
2.Last Spring Frost
In March I check at least three of the many sites on the world wide web to confirm the average date of the last frost. It’s also important to pay attention to your local meteorologist for this information.
3.What To Grow
Now that we’ve pinned down the average last spring frost our attention has turned to what we plan to grow this year. This year we plan to grow potatoes (in large trash bags), green beans, tomatoes (“A”s favorite and I love fried green tomatoes), cucumbers, broccoli, rosemary, basil, cilantro, and parsley. With the two of us this list could grow and our garden could widen…only time will tell.
While all the steps above are important this may be the most important step during the planning stage. Understanding which vegetables and fruits grow best together can be the difference from a successful garden and a not so successful garden. Planting vegetables that both need lots of nutrients and/or water from the soil, side by side, could stunt the growth of one or both plants. There may be plenty greenery but no or very little vegetable production in these cases. Aside from where vegetables should be planted in relation each other, it is also important to know how far apart each plant/seed should be, where the sunlight is best in your yard, which plants need sunlight, which need shade, etc.
5. How To Plant
Some vegetables and fruit can be transplanted to your garden bed after growing inside . These are the vegetables that can be purchased from your local Lowes, Home Depot, or nursery. You may also decide to start your vegetables on your own. We were not successful in our seedling attempt due to lack of sunlight. Conversely, some vegetable seeds need to be planted directly into the garden to grow and thrive. In most cases the reasoning is the plants roots are fragile and may not be able to survive the transplant or the seeds are tough enough to survive a frost if under the soil.
6. When To Plant
There are vegetables that can be planted before the last frost. In most cases these vegetables will be planted as seeds (ex: green beans) or leafy green (ex: collards). Other vegetables are more fruitful if planted after growth inside or under a light. We plant a mix of these vegetables resulting in more than one planting day a season. If seedlings (plants grown inside) are planted prior to the last frost you run the risk of losing plants after the frost. Trust me I know! Some sites suggest when using a raised bed planting can begin early and plants can be covered. I did not obtain an favorable outcome using this suggestion a couple of years ago. Plant early at your own risk (lol).
Understanding your garden before planting begins can make a huge difference in the return you receive for all your hard work. But believe me it’s worth it!
Asia Spratley is a 34 year working mother of 2. I have many interests. YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagam are my go to apps for inspiration for meals, home decor and DIY projects. Leave a comment or like if you feel it! If not, thank you for reading! Sending you light and love on your journey through this thing called like!
XO Asia Spratley