It’s safe to say I’m pressed. I’ve been anxiously waiting to get ready for spring gardening/

January isn’t even over but down here in the hot, sticky south it feels like spring already.

I’m not sure it was ever even winter. If I really think about it, I can count two days when it was really cold here in New Orleans – so far. Maybe February will make me eat those words but I doubt it.

According to the internets, and the meteorologists, we’re in the middle of a 3-year spell of increasing temperatures. That’s historic. El Nino has not made matters any better. 

I hate to say that I love it. Maybe the heat is bad for the environment, maybe mama earth is just regulating her temperature. Either way, we’re taking advantage of what looks like a very long spring/summer growing season.

I’ve had pretty, clean, and polished nails all “winter” and now I’m ready to get back in the soil and get ready for spring gardening. My nail tech is probably reading this and judging me… I see you!

Is it just me or does spring compel you to plant in the morning and lay out with some lemonade in the evening? I’m so ready for those days again!

In the meantime, we’re doing some planning and preparation so this year’s harvest is more successful (and organized) than last year. This will be the first year we get ready for spring gardening way ahead of the season. That’ll make things much more efficient! (That’s my word for 2017)

If you’ve been following along for the last 3 years you know that this will be the 4th or 5th time we’ve had to scrap everything and begin again. No sweat really since that’s what  naturally happens when seasons change. But this year we’re determined to have a great harvest, feed more families, and finally get it right. 

That’s why I’m starting early.

Here’s what I’m doing now to get ready for spring planting.

How to get ready for spring gardening

  • Create a list of key players - what am I planting this year?
  • Sketch up a layout - no need to get fancy, just know what's going where
  • Check pH - we have very alkaline soil so now is the time to fix it.
  • Check tools - sharpening shovels and making sure handles are secure
  • Start early spring veggies - we'll start seedlings indoors on trays for an early harvest

 

A major mistake we made in the past was planting too many varieties of food. I know, you want to grow everything. But back away from the seed catalog! I used to try to grow 15-20 things at a time. I thought I was a dang grocery store! Last year we fixed that by sticking with things we knew grew well in our area. For us that was okra, squash, lettuce, and greens. We also grew melons, herbs, and peppers. Check your local nursery or university Ag center to find out what grows well and when in your area.

Have an idea of where you want to plant things. Some vegetables grow in a vine like formation, others grow bushy, and some stand alone. You want to make sure that everything has room to stretch out. I remember trying to grow watermelon in our first backyard garden. I didn’t realize each plant needed about 6 feet of space and it was a MESS! lol!  This is the case for most melon and squash. So if you’re short on space, grow a bush variety. Last year we grew heirloom zucchini and straightneck squash that weren’t the vining type and they did very well.

Another reason to know your layout – companion planting. Certain veggies will thrive when they’re close and others will give each other a smackdown. Here’s a good guide for companion planting that I like to use.

If you’re in an urban area like we are, you definitely want to get your soil tested. Our garden is right smack dab in post-Katrinaville. The Lower 9th Ward. Even before the storm the soil was depleted but now it’s a wreck. We tried to grow for a few years without getting the soil tested and had no luck (hence the repeated restarts). Last year we got the soil checked and found out that it is about a 7 on the pH scale. That’s WAY too alkaline for growing vegetables.

Fruits and veggies require a different pH than flowers so decide on what you’re growing and learn what it needs to thrive. Fixing pH is pretty easy because you can get all the supplies at a well stocked nursery for pretty reasonable prices. You just don’t want to wait until after your seeds are planted to try to fix things. Start early and you’ll be glad you did. (Alternatively, plant in pots or raised beds)

Maintaining your tools is a must y’all. I can’t tell you how many shovels we went through before we learned that you can extend their life by taking good care of them. Here’s a great article that tells you all about keeping your garden tools nice and strong for years.

The last thing is my favorite. When it’s time to get ready for spring gardening, it’s time to start planting seeds! We didn’t grow a winter garden this year because the weather was way too shady. So I’m ready to burst pulling out my seed starting trays and potting soil. You can start seeds in any small container – dixie cups and egg cartons are cheap and easy. I’m using seed starting trays now because we’re planting a huge space, but any container will do. Get a good potting soil and get to business!

 

Stay tuned to our social channels (especially Youtube) I’ll be updating all spring on the progress of our garden. 

 

Let me know in the comments what you’re groing this year!

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