You want to add some life to your yard, be it gorgeous flowers and leafy plants, or nourishing produce that you can use in the healthy meals your family eats? Spring is just around the corner, and calls for immediate action. With our guide, you’ll be harvesting carrots, lettuce and tomatoes by summer – the season that calls for fresh, light fare – and adorning your dinner table with stunning floral arrangements.
As if you needed another reason to start hoeing, gardening with family members can be a great bonding experience, learning tool for children, and awesome way to instill a sense of accomplishment. After all, wouldn’t you feel great, feeding your family something you grew yourself? So will your kids, trust us.
The type of plant, where and your climate will answer this question specifically, but here’s a general rule of (green) thumb:
When to plant
To ensure that your spring vegetable plants get the benefit of copious sunlight hours, and they’ll be delicious and yummy looking when you harvest them, make sure that your spring planting takes place at least two weeks after the last frost of winter.
If you’ll be transplanting from indoors, aim for an April or May move; for new seeds and spring bulbs, most can be planted between early spring and May.
How to plant
For tips specific to every kind of vegetable or fruit you can plant, you’re going to need to do some reading. Check seed envelopes, seek out friends familiar with growing in your climate, and don’t be afraid to ask at the gardening supply center that you might purchase seeds, bulbs, fertilizer and tools from. Googling for information on planting times, methods and fertilization recommendations can be informative, especially with seasoned gardening pros blogging and posting charts like this one. Other great options include frequenting social media sites with gardening sections for advice.
A tip: If this is one of your first attempts at spring gardening, start off small. Yes, it would be amazing to plant nearly all of your family’s produce needs, but you don’t want to jinx your efforts by over-planting in too small a space, not having enough attention for each plant or spending a fortune on seeds and bulbs, to have little successfully harvested. Gardening is largely about trial and error – and some of that will be out of your hands and in Mother Nature’s.
Flowers, whether perennials or annuals, don’t have a ‘plant by’ date at all, so relax!
When to plant
Make it your main focus that most spring bulbs and seeds – and this is especially important for transplanted flowers – are planted after the soil’s had some time to shake off winter’s last frost. That’s all you have to keep in mind about the ‘when’.
How to plant
To quote the Jackson Five, planting bulbs for a spring garden is easy as A, B, C.
- First off, make sure that you’re using high-quality bulbs – nothing withered, dried out or moldy.
- Decide on where your spring flowers will live based on the need for well-draining soil and the fact that most bulbs like full-sunlight exposure, but don’t write off a spot just because it’s shady in the fall, when petals will be dwindling, if still present.
- Try to plant bulbs pointy-side up, since that will be your flowers’ stem, but don’t stress about it too much since your plants will go toward the light, naturally.
- As a general rule, plant as deep as three-times the size your bulb is around. So, for a three-inch bulb, you’ll want to dig around nine inches deep into soil.
- If you choose to use a root-growth helper, mix some into the soil at the bottom of your hole – learn about fertilizer options or organic solutions from your local gardening center, online or from books geared toward flower growing and your climate.
- Plant bulbs in whatever arrangement you like, keeping in mind that most find clumping to yield the prettiest results, and cover your bulbs with soil. After watering, which will give roots a good amount of moisture to encourage growth and fill in any holes surrounding your plant.
- Make sure that you mark where your bulbs have been planted so that you don’t inadvertently plant something else in the same spot before stems poke out!
Planting seeds can be a little trickier, or a lot easier. It’s best to go to the experts in your area for their tried-and-true success stories. But if you want to wing it on your own, try the following:
- Decide whether you will start seeds inside, or just plant them directly outside. A lot of people have more success with started seeds, transplanted into soil after the last frost, but if your climate is easy to work with, you might consider skipping inside germination. If you choose to start seeds, read lots of how-tos about your type of flowers, or check out general guides like this one.
- Most seeds planted directly outdoors will grow best after the final frost of winter, in direct sunlight – putting these two factors together with well-draining soil will most likely yield you sprouting within one to three weeks.
- Follow the directions on your seed packet as to how deep and far apart to plant, as well as feeding and watering needs. But don’t consider it a rule: spacing seeds somewhat closer together will net you more flowers, sooner, and make eyes pop when they see your garden.
So, what if you want the flowers, but you don’t want to have to do all of that waiting around for germination? Container plants can be the solution.
On a warm, cloudy day, dig deep enough to submerge the entire root of the plant without burying the stem, making sure that the ball of roots isn’t damaged when you remove it from the container, and that the soil you’re transplanting to is free of large clumps and soft.
- Space spring flower transplants so that there will be adequate room between individual root balls, but don’t worry too much about over-crowding – each needs only a couple of inches of space surrounding it.
- Water your new flowers frequently and thoroughly. At least every other day until you see growth in them.
- After new growth has started, and you’re confident that the transplant has taken, you can start watering your flowers once a week.
- Did you find gusto and confidence that you can grow something magically beautiful with your own two hands? You should have. Your spring garden is going to be fantastic, when you’re done with it!