Spring is here. It’s time to plan your spring garden. I confess I am a newcomer to gardening. Last fall was the first time I planted a garden (I think it was the first time I planted anything ever). Gardening is a great hobby. I wish I had started gardening sooner. If you are interested in gardening, you may be surprised to find it does not take much time to grow a few of your favorite vegetables in your own backyard.
Gardening also provides ready to eat healthy snacks. Hungry? Go grab some carrots or lettuce and make a fresh salad.
As a first-time gardener with my fall/winter garden, I did not know what to expect. I wasn’t sure anything would grow. No one was more surprised than me when kale, mustard greens, Florida broadleaf greens, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, and several varieties of lettuce started to grow. I was not as successful growing squash and peppers (the plants sprouted, but quickly died).
One of my first mistakes was not knowing the correct planting season. This spring I am being more careful to plant the right vegetable at the right time.
To set-up the spring garden, I had to clean up the fall/winter garden. Living in Central Florida allows a variety of foods to grow year round. Starting a fall garden (in October) was not a problem. It was interesting that since November and December were slightly cooler than normal, cabbage and cauliflower did not start to grow until January. Collards and kale are still growing well. The cabbage is just starting to mature.
The spring garden is starting with carrots and cauliflower which are still growing. I thinned the cabbage to help improve its growth, I kept the kale (because it’s yummy) and kept some of the large collard plants, but will be picking them soon.
After the clean-up, I added some new vegetables to the garden:
- Bell Peppers
- Basic Lettuce (we did not enjoy the “fancy” varieties from the winter garden, some were too bitter)
In a week or two, I am planning to add summer squash and cucumbers to the garden. I would like to try broccoli, but broccoli plants are large and I only have a small garden.
If you want to start a spring garden, here are a few things to remember:
- Select seeds for food you and your family already eat and enjoy. If you don’t like it before you grow it, it’s not likely you will like to eat it because you grew it (see my note about the fancy lettuce above).
- Unless you have a large garden or are only planting one type of food, you only need a few seeds (i.e. don’t plant the whole package of seeds at one time in a small space).
- The seed package will tell you basic planting information such as the best months to plant, sunlight needed, depth to plant seeds, and how far to space your plants.
- Use small signs or flags with labels to keep your garden organized and help you remember where you planted everything. If you are super organized, draw a diagram and layout your garden design before you plant.
- Water, Water, Water. Water your new garden every day.
- Depending on the size of your garden, plan to spend an hour or two each week pulling weeds and thinning plants.
- Thinning plants (replanting/respacing) is not hard to do and you will find all your plants will grow stronger with the proper spacing.
- When your plants mature, pick fresh daily and enjoy your harvest.
What will you be planting in your spring garden this year? What are your best beginner garden suggestions?
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