Time to Plan the Garden

May 2015

Maureen's "garden" as it appears on May 13, 2015.

Maureen’s “garden” as it appears on May 13, 2015.

“If you don’t like the weather in New England now, just wait a few minutes.” Mark Twain’s wisdom rings true. Less than two weeks ago I was bundled up in my heaviest sweater with all of my windows shut tight from the raw temperatures, and now I am planning my strategy to survive the heat. The springtime switch has been tripped, and my garden’s scraggly mess of growing weeds is evidence. It’s going to take a long afternoon of hard labor to whip this patch into shape in preparation for planting. First, I need a vision for what I want to grow in my garden, and second, a plan in order to meet that promising bounty.

Here are five steps to making a garden successful.

1. Have the Right Tools. Have the basics at hand for garden preparation (that long afternoon of hard labor I mentioned): shovels, rakes, hoes, gloves, soil and fertilizer. Till the soil ’til you can’t till no more. (My editor is cringing!)

2. Pick a Location. Check the integrity of any fencing as early sprouting plants can be gobbled up quickly by hungry ground hogs and other critters. (I’ve already spotted a hefty-sized muncher patrolling my garden’s perimeter. I hope we don’t have to do battle again this season.) Be sure to plant in an area with lots of sun exposure.

3. Choose Your Plants. Heed any lessons-learned from past seasons. As much as we all love tomatoes at my house, we could never eat, or give away, as many tomatoes as we grew last season.

4. Start Planting. I prefer the pre-grown seedlings as they get a sturdy start once planted during Memorial Day weekend, which is the start of gardening in New England.

5. Tend to the Garden. If done right, gardens can be somewhat low-maintenance by setting a schedule for watering and using methods for keeping the weeds at bay. I am planning a natural remedy for weed control this year—mulching with grass clippings and straw.

Just like starting a personal or business project, which requires a vision, a plan, tools and attention to follow through—especially when you need to adapt to challenges along the way—a garden will thrive with a good strategy at the start.