A Greener Indiana

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Three Questions to Ask Before You Dig Your Spring Garden

Are you itching to dig? Now is the perfect time to plan a garden, and planning is always a good idea,

especially if you are new to gardening. Before you dig, mull over these three questions.

What Do You Want?

What’s your garden goal? Flowers to cut for kitchen table bouquets? Enough tomatoes for gallons of homemade salsa? Herbs for drying and storing? Decide your
priorities ahead of time. Imagine your perfect garden. Thumb through your
favorite recipes. Study gardens that intrigue or inspire you.

Dream big, but be realistic, too. Do some research. Is your soil in good shape? (A simple soil test through the Purdue county extension office can help you
determine that – once the ground thaws a little!) Find out what plants thrive
in your climate. As a rule, annual vegetables need 6-8 hours of full sunlight.

How Much Time (and Money) Do You Have?

Ponder your budget and time constraints. Gardening fits into any lifestyle, but just be certain you’ve thought about how it fits into this season of your life. If you
feel ambitious and have access to tools, space and time, digging a brand new
garden bed is a great project.

However, if you lack space or time, or if you have physical challenges, consider container-gardening. Some of my favorite seed companies have collections of
dwarf-size veggies just perfect for containers (check out Renee’s Garden for
her “Container Kitchen Garden” – www.reneesgarden.com/seeds/beginners.html).

What Do You Need?

On days when the temperature actually inches above 30°F, I head to my garden shed to dust off the tools, toss out the empty seed packets and shake the
spiders out of my boots. Every gardener has his or her favorite toys – I
mean, tools. Here are three I can’t live without:

  • My multi-purpose garden knife. This little beauty has a sharp, stainless steel blade that’s serrated on one side and marked in 1-inch increments for measuring planting depth. I use it to open bags of
    soil, to dig weeds, and to divide perennials. It’s always in my back pocket.
    Gardener’s Supply Company carries a nice one (www.gardeners.com).
  • My pointed shovel. It’s handy for turning over soil, scooping up mulch, or digging up plants for division or transplanting. It’s also great at splitting big hostas or ornamental grasses when I’m
    ready to divide them.
  • My Warren hoe. It’s a triangular hoe that makes excellent furrows for seed-planting and that easily weeds and cultivates without disturbing other plants.

One caveat: don’t shop for new tools, gadgets or “time-savers” until you know what you need. I once asked a veteran gardener what her favorite tool was. After a
moment’s pause, she smiled and said, “My hands.”

For gardening tips, visit Organic Gardening’s website (www.organicgardening.com) or get in touch with your local Purdue county extension educator. Master Gardeners are
available through the county extension to help you with all your gardening

This article appeared previously in the Plymouth Pilot News, Hoosier Habitat column. Copyright 2010 Marianne Peters.

Views: 41

Tags: gardening, organic, sustainability, tools


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Comment by Marianne Peters on February 24, 2010 at 7:27am
Love your description! I planted lots of extra parsley last year in between my perennials to encourage the swallowtails.
Comment by Mrs. Cara Dafforn on February 23, 2010 at 7:50pm
Great Post! After some thinking...

What I want is an edible landscape: currants, gooseberries and elderberries growing as hedges.
Vertical raised beds with peas and parsley for the early spring and an herb bed that renews all on it's own.
An orchard of fruit trees marking time along the lot line. Fresh basil and tomatoes with marigolds dancing along the edges. A patch for pumpkins and melons stretched out in the sunshine.

Marching 4th with an appointment at www.momentive.org to determine my monetary budget.

As far a tools, focused on improving passive watering by trying Katdyn Filtered water gravity bags, and gardening stake inversion water using 1 1/2 litter "smart water" bottles. Almost a dollar a foot, the potable hoses are a budget buster but would be a delight

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