By Samuel Wilson
It’s that time of year again, Spring is underway, and it’s time to get things in order for this year’s outdoor growing season (if you haven’t done so already). A little bit of planning goes a long way and can help reduce potential headaches and crop loss.
One of the first things that needs to be done, is to figure out how much growing space is available and if plants will be grown in containers or in the ground. This is very important because this will help determine which plants should be selected and grown within your environment.
Once a growing environment has been established, the next step is to find out what growing zone you’re in. This can easily be done by visiting www.burpee.com/findgrowzone or finding a resource like a farmers almanac. Not all plants fair well in all zones, so it’s important to look for fruits, vegetables, herbs, flowers, etc. that are known to grow without issues in your given area.
Trying to figure out what you would like to grow, can be exciting, but can also be difficult at the same time. If you’re having trouble figuring out what to grow, or if you just want to see a large list of plants that do well in your area, visit www.burpee.com/growingcalendar. This page, will display all this information and will also show the best time to transplant/bring them outdoors. Burpee’s website, is a good resource for plant information, growing data, and it’s a place to get seeds, live, plants, and growing supplies.
If you’re only limited to a small growing area or container gardening (smaller containers), don’t choose plants that require large growing areas, like pumpkins or melons.
Here are some plant suggestions for small areas or containers (window sill/balcony) marigolds, impatiens, alyssum, herbs (basil, thyme, mint, etc.), strawberries, lettuce, arugula, spinach, etc.
Suggestions for medium to large grow areas or containers (deck containers): kale, radishes, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, small varieties of cucumbers, container corn, swiss chard, sunflowers, etc. To grow lots of plants in a small footprint consider using a Garden Tower 2 to maximize space (can grow 50 plants in a small area).
For larger growing areas (really large containers, or in the ground), consider artichokes, broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, beets, pumpkins, melons, squash, corn, cucumbers, etc.
Make sure the plants you choose, can be planted next to each other, to avoid growing complications down the road and look into companion planting. When certain plants are grown together, they can potentially benefit each other by doing things such as: repelling certain pests, enriching the soil, providing a better growing environment, etc.
Prior to placing an order, make sure that you have the necessary items to move forward after the seeds or live plants arrive. If live plants are being purchased, containers for the plants are most likely going to be needed and if seeds are purchased, a seed starting kit should be used to make things easier.
Different seed starting kits are available, but they all don’t come with everything to get going. A really easy to use kit, that comes with everything you need to start your seeds (tray, humidity dome, growing media, labels, etc.) is available from Burpee. Their “Ultimate Growing System” kit is self watering, easy to use, and can be setup quickly (assemble the kit, expand the pellets, add water to tray, plant the seeds in the tray/label everything, and add the lid).
As I mentioned, use the various resources available online to find out any additional information you may need, such as: the proper time to transplant/move your plants outdoors (to avoid the possibly of frost). Frost can literally kill your plants overnight and that would be terrible.
Later in the growing season, when you see the “fruits of your labor” you will appreciate the planning you’re doing now, Happy Gardening.