Gardener's Roundtable: Spring Plans
Our greengoods buyer Chris D. recently said, "If you're like me, the first day temperatures exceed 40 degrees, you're dying to get your hands dirty!" We couldn't agree more, and we're getting our garden plans in order as we prepare for the arrival of spring. While we wait, we asked Chris and three more terrain gardeners to share what's on their minds for the season ahead. Read on for their roundtable.
The Practical Gardener: "This is the perfect time of year to think about garden prep, but first and foremost, be patient! Working the soil too early is bad news. Wait until the ground isn't saturated from melting snow and early spring rain, which makes soil easy to compact if you tramp through the garden. While you wait, it's time to weed. I know it's tedious and zero fun, but this is the perfect time to remove leftover weeds and winter debris, or prune dead, diseased, and beat up stems from your shrubs. You can also prune summer bloomers, which flower from new growth. (Be sure not to prune early spring bloomers, like lilacs, which develop buds from last year's wood.) While you're pruning, take a peek for signs of pests and treat your plants as needed. Finally -- and most importantly -- feed your soil! I like to think that dirt is a little tired at the beginning of spring. It's been asleep since last season, so it needs to be rejuvenated and fed. The best way to do this is with leaf compost, which is organic and attracts good bugs and birds. I mix the compost with worm castings, coffee grounds, and a little dolomite. Once your soil isn't too soggy, work this mixture into the top 8 inches or so. You'll be ready to go with soil that will power your plants all summer long!" - Chris D., Greengoods Buyer
The Artful Gardener: "I moved into a new house late last summer and, as a former city dweller, I really enjoyed doing some garden maintenance and fall bulb planting. One of the previous residents was a gardener and planted a succession garden that has been neglected by various residents in the years since. I’m looking forward to drawing a map that illustrates the gardens around the house. I'll use it to document when and where any existing plants and bulbs appear, then sketch in new things I’ve added for future garden planning!" - Danielle P., Print Art Director
The Culinary Gardener: "My veggie garden is small, so I find it very important to plan ahead for both space and timing. Each year, I make a list of the veggies and herbs I’d like to include, then I draw a little map of my garden to plan for spacing. Sometimes I have to make cuts from my original wish list, but it’s worth it because giving plants the correct amount of space really helps them thrive. I also get the most out of my space by planting cool weather crops like kale and lettuce early. Once harvested, I replace them with warmer season plants like tomatoes or root veggies, since their days to harvest are fairly low. I also save space by planting my herbs in containers. They always seem to do well this way and I can put them right outside my back door. That way, I can quickly duck outside and cut what I need when cooking!" - Fran D., Greengoods Buyer
The Sustainable Gardener: "This winter, I’ve been reading a lot about permaculture and sustainable gardening methods. I’m trying two new approaches as I get my garden ready for spring: sheet mulching and soil blocking. Sheet mulching is a way to prepare a fertile soil bed for a new garden with layers of cardboard, compost, leaves, and straw. The further in advance you start the sheet mulching, the richer the earth will be for your plantings. You’ll be feeding the microorganisms in your soil, that will in turn feed your plants for seasons to come. Soil blocking is a method to efficiently start seeds without the use of plastic cell packs. Using a soil blocker tool, you create compact cubes where seeds can grow. You start with a small block, then create larger ones in progression. As your plants grow, you insert the small soil block into a larger soil block, which is indented so the smaller block fits in perfectly like a puzzle piece. Because the roots won’t wrap around a pot, the plants are healthier and experience less shock when transplanted." - Laura T., Art Director of Interactive + Photography