Gardener's Grapevine 2016.01.27


If you read this column I assume that you most likely enjoy gardening. I love to see what comes of a little soil, seed, water and sunshine and then harvesting, preparing and canning or freezing it. I love to see those beautiful jars lined up in rows in the pantry waiting for the winter months to become part of a delicious pot of soup.

I have in past years started my own plants from seed in a small greenhouse in my house. They sprout, spread, and grow, then the majority start to die. This is something I could not figure out. How did they go from healthy and green to withered and gone?

So when I went to purchase replacement plants at the greenhouse, I asked my friend Janet, who owns Bean Creek Nursery, why this always happens. She said that they die because they get started way too soon. Everyone gets excited about the seeds and seed starting supplies right after Christmas, and they can’t wait to start. The plants get too big too soon and can’t be put outside to harden off. It made total sense to me, because I was one of those people who couldn’t wait to get started, year after year, and I spent money trying to be successful. Now I know that all I have to do is wait until March. Buying the seed is fine, I just can’t put them in soil until our weather turns warmer.

Thinking about starting my garden plants got me to thinking about people who have never gardened. What do they need to know to get started?

The first thing is to decide where you are going to put your vegetable garden. When deciding this, keep in mind that it should be in a warm, sunny place with good drainage and easy access. If you have easy access to the garden, you are more likely to tend to it. Sun is essential to a good garden. Vegetables need six to eight hours of sunlight per day. If taller vegetables are planted near vegetables like lettuce that need cooler temps the taller vegetables will shade them. So when planting your garden consider this.

Everything you need to know about the seeds you plant is available on the seed packet or on the internet. As my son likes to point out, you can learn anything from Google.

The next thing that needs to be considered is access to water and how you will get it to your plants. Plants need to have an even amount of water. Too little water will dry out the plants, split the vegetables, or keep the plants from setting blooms to make vegetables. Art and I use drip irrigation on the plants. It is economical and easy to install. You can put a timer on the irrigation system to make sure that plants get water daily. This is, in theory, a good idea, except that if you are not home to shut the timer off and it pours rain the plants will be over watered and could die. It’s a choice that each individual gardener must make.

There are many choices to be made as well as a lot of trial and error that  happens year after year. All I can say is if you love to play in the dirt, plan a garden in the winter, and try and try again. Keep your successes and try something different with your failures. It’s a never ending battle to have a perfect garden, but the fun is in the trying.