Looking for a fun weekend project? Planting a spring garden will not only beautify your home, but it will brighten your mood and help the environment too! Although nights are still chilly here in New York, the days are definitely warming up. Having a successful spring garden is all about selecting the appropriate plants for your current climate. With the temperature fluctuations in the northeast at this time of year it is best to look for a hardy species. Pansies (pictured above) are a great choice because they appear bright and pretty yet they are able to withstand cool evenings. Another great choice is the pansies’ miniature cousin…the viola. Your garden can be as simple or as elaborate as you want it to be. As you can see above, I have planted a simple container garden. This morning I was lucky enough to find an AMAZING deal…my local nursery was selling mini-flats (4 plants each) for $1.99. I bought 10 flats, which yielded me 40 plants for $20.00! I was able to plant several small gardens this afternoon for my extremely minimal investment. Now my home looks bright and cheerful.
Here is what you will need to get started:
- A plot of earth (soil must be well dug up and turned over) OR a container for your garden (most nurseries have an abundant supply of these in a range of styles to suit varying tastes.)
- Garden Tools – Mini Gardening Shovel, Mini Gardening Trowel (these tools will allow you to turn over your soil and to dig holes for your plants.)
- Gardening Gloves (these will keep your hands clean while you work.)
- Potting Soil (the employees at your local nursery can advise you on which type of potting soil to use and how much you will require.)
- Watering Can OR Hose (your plants will need to be watered immediately after planting.)
- Mulch (if desired, you may choose to mulch your flowers. Mulching helps to retain moisture in the soil, inhibits weed growth and may prolong the life of your flowers.)
The planting process is simple:
- Turn over your soil using your trowel (mini-rake).
- Gently remove your plants from their flats and break them apart.
- Gently break apart each plant’s roots at the bottom (this will help to avoid issues with your plants becoming “root-bound” and will aid them in taking root in the soil.)
- You may want to lay your plants out first to determine how you want them to look once they are actually planted.
- Dig holes, insert plants (all leaves should be above soil line), and gently pat the earth around them.
- Water generously.
- Spread mulch between plants (if desired).
Based on the weather, your plants will need to be watered anywhere from everyday to every three days or so (soil should feel slightly damp). Please note that in extreme summer heat watering plants more than once per day is sometimes necessary. You will also need to pull out any unsightly weeds that may grow every few days in order to keep them from overtaking your plants.
Voila! You have a GORGEOUS flower garden which will attract the butterflies and the honey bees!
Interested in trying out a vegetable garden? Some good early crops include lettuce, peas and carrots. Vegetables do GREAT in container gardens (in fact, this is now the exclusive way that I grow all of my vegetables…it saves a ton of time spent weeding and watering). Also, you can yield a lot more produce than you might think. True story…one summer I yielded over 10,000 cherry tomatoes from just FOUR plants! They were like sugar; however, I was trying to give them away by the bagful! Bottom line…growing your own veggies is a hell of a lot cheaper (and healthier) than going to ‘Whole Foods’! Plus, there is simply no better source of phyto-nutrients to be had than those found in just picked fruits and veggies! Vegetable gardening is also a terrific way to teach your children about the correlation between nature and nutrition.
In an urban environment? No worries…flowers and herbs grow beautifully on a well-lit windowsill and veggies can flourish in well-tended container gardens placed on a roof or a fire escape!
Wherever you may reside, the earth wants to be green…so help it to flourish!