The growing season is closer than it feels. In fact, you can start planning (and planting!) your summer garden right now! It may still be cold out, but lots of garden veggies thrive when started indoors. Here are some tips to put you in the growing mood...
1 | Start composting now (if you don't already). Making your own compost is a cheap and easy way to nourish your soil. Since plants soak up the nutrients in the ground where they grow, if you want your food to be full of vitamins and minerals, you'll have to make sure that your soil is first. New to composting? Check out this post. Ideally, you can alternate your garden and compost pile annually between two locations allowing one to restore nutrients as the other depletes, then switch!
2 | Make a list of the plants included in your ideal garden. Picture this: It's a beautiful summer day, the sun is bright, the breeze is light, and you're making your way, barefoot, out to the garden. What do you want to see? A succulent tomato bulging on its vine? Sprightly kale standing tall? Or maybe you'd rather focus on flowers! There's no wrong answer here, just imagine your perfect garden and write down every plant you'd see in it.
3 | Look into companion gardening. Some plants just do better together. If you haven't had luck with something in the past, find out if having a partner would help it to thrive. A classic example of companion gardening are the Three Sisters - squash, beans, and corn - which were a staple in Native American diets right here in our region of the world. Beside the fact that these foods create a balanced diet, they also assist each other during the growing process. The corn stalk gives the beans something to climb, the squash leaves block sunlight from the ground thus retaining moisture, but discouraging weed growth, and the beans add nitrogen to the soil that the other plants utilize.
4 | Think about bugs! You might cringe at that thought, but certain insects are extremely important when it comes to a flourishing ecosystem. Bees, for example, pollinate 1/3 of what we eat, but their populations are rapidly diminishing. This means, if they die out, a huge portion of our food resources will go with them. You can do your part to help bees by planting certain flowers and NOT using chemicals when you garden. More on that here! But there are some flowers that can also discourage pests; marigolds, for example! Planting these will make less pest-control work for you!
5 | Consider your land. Is your soil sandy? Your yard shady? Just as you have favorite places, so does every plant. Now is the time to look at your list and do a little research into each plant's preference. Then start sketching out a map of where everything will be happiest. Don't forget to keep it all within the reach of your hose for easy watering on dry days!
6 | Start inside if you can. To get the most out of your growing season, plant your earliest plants now! Reuse an egg carton with a little organic potting soil in each cup to host seedlings. Then when it's time to plant, you can cut the egg carton into pieces and plant each cup straight into the ground!
7 | Go organic! The best thing you can do for the earth and for your own health is to eat organically. We work with High Mowing Seeds to bring certified organic seeds your way. This means that you can be assured you are eating exactly what you think you are eating, instead of secretly consuming GMOs. Having an organic garden also means avoiding chemical fertilizers, pesticides, etc., which will harm the health of your soil and your body.
Stop into Sunflower soon, before our seed selection starts dwindling. We are currently stocked up with a wide variety of fruit, vegetable, flower, and herb seeds, plus compost bins and gardening books galore! And, many of our employees are experienced gardeners who would love to answer your questions. If you're looking for a little agricultural inspiration, we're the place to be.
Health & happiness,
* Post by Julia Marchand. Click image for source.