There have been enough rainy days and mornings above freezing for me to officially say it: SPRING!!! Spring, I missed you. Gone are the days of snowstorms, and here to stay are sunny and muddy weekends with people out and about, catching up on our long missed Vitamin D. Little sprouts of green are already shooting up at my heels as I walk the dog in rubber boots. Puddles of water flood the streets instead of deathly patches of ice.
Every season has a particular smell and to me, the earthy aroma of Spring is the sweetest. Sure, the crisp smell of golden leaves each Fall is pleasant. And the cool air of Winter paired with delicate but omnipresent smoke from burning wood is just lovely. The smell of sunshine and humidity in the Summer is intoxicatingly good, but I really have to say that Spring still wins out. Everything has thawed and the world is coming alive after months under the snow – it is both a wonderful and welcome assault on the senses.
Today was especially gorgeous and nearly all of the the snow in my yard has finally (FINALLY!) melted. There’s still enough on the ground for me to know that it isn’t quite time to get my dream garden started, but it is getting me excited nonetheless. Let’s just say that I’m no longer Spring Dreaming…I’ve officially moved on to Spring Cleaning (only in my mind – no actual cleaning has been started) and Spring Planning.
My “to do” list for this spring is predictably long and extremely ambitious, but my biggest priority is still to create an incredible vegetable garden in my backyard. I can’t wait to eat fresh food plucked feet from my kitchen, and I am very hopeful that I will discover a previously untapped skill for gardening. Over the last few weeks, I have done some research and planning for my dream garden, using the two best resources available to me: My Parents and The Internet. What follows are some tips that I picked up from both, which I will use as a guide in the coming months.
Advice from Seasoned Gardeners (also known as my parents): Plant somewhere with LOTS of sun.
Commentary from Me: Uh-oh. This could be a deal breaker; my backyard is fairly shady so that might be a problem. I have one particular corner in mind next to our deck that might work, but it is currently occupied by a large group of leafy green plants that I will need to dig up to make room for the garden. My man says we can transplant them to our front yard (which is barren to say the least) so that might be a fun little project to kick off Spring-Summer 2014 – the year of landscaping chez nous.
Advice from the Internet: No surprises here that when I say Internet, I mean Pinterest. My obsession with pinning has obviously spilled into the gardening category and I have amassed a good base of Gardening pins over the last few months.
Commentary from Me: I want this raised bed (courtesy of this site) in my yard and I am going to make it happen, swapping a few suggestions in the grid for the veggies from my own wish list, and possibly cutting down to nine squares instead of sixteen. Luckily my man is a carpenter and has already confirmed that building this will be doable with random wood that he has on hand. Maybe I’ll even get to use some power tools!
Advice from Seasoned Gardeners: Buy baby plants from the local nursery instead of planting with seeds.
Commentary from Me: Why didn’t I think of this sooner? To be honest, I was feeling some angst about planting with seeds because all the great resources I found online made it sound like I might already be too late! If you plant with seedlings, many need to be started inside and transplanted outdoors when the time is right. Buying baby plants from a nursery seems like a better option, especially since it will be my first time trying to maintain a garden. Plus, I love our local nursery; they also have a small market with amazing veggies from their own farmland, so I feel good about buying from them.
Advice from the Internet: Here are some of the main things that I absorbed from my time on Pinterest. (This site was particularly helpful!) A raised bed is helpful if your soil quality isn’t great. The soil you use makes a big difference – rich and healthy is best. Starting a compost is a great initiative to compliment your garden, because you can generate good nutrients from your compost to help strengthen your garden year after year.
Commentary from Me: The soil quality in our backyard is…undesirable. So raised bed it is, and I am definitely planning to invest in some really nice soil filled with nutrients to help my baby plants grow. I’m also considering starting a compost outside, but it might be tricky – we tried a worm compost a few years back and it didn’t work out so well. (No, I did not have a mass breakout of worms in the house, we just weren’t very good at the upkeep…but I think a real compost outside might be better for us.)
(Unspoken) Advice from Seasoned Gardeners: Watch out for critters! In my gardening conversation with my parents, this particular tip did not come up, but it didn’t need to be said out loud because I lived with my parents long enough to remember. They had a groundhog living in their backyard, and he just loved eating all their yummy veggies.
Commentary from Me: This is going to be a challenge. We absolutely need to find a way to keep critters out of the garden (we’ve already got some crafty raccoons that frequently get into our garbage). But I don’t want to make it too difficult to access the plants, both physically and visually. Fencing our yard is probably ideal since we’ve also got a dog that we want to keep in the yard, but that might be expensive because I have some pretty specific/most likely expensive ideas about what the fence should look like.
Advice from the Internet: So many knowledge nuggets! I learn something new and fun every single time I check out the Gardening section on Pinterest, and some great finds include vegetables that grow well in the shade as well as those that are easy for first time gardeners, plants that pair well, and ways to garden without pesticides.
Commentary from Me: I am really excited about the last point – I don’t want to pollute my amazing homegrown food with chemicals from pesticides (who would?) and I am all for trying a little DIY solution. Also, it has occurred to me that I’m going to have to pace myself with all this research on Pinterest and remember that my primary goal is to succeed with the garden.
It isn’t much longer until I can actually start some of this work in my yard, and I cannot wait! Adventures in gardening, here I come.