Do you have a vegetable garden? Do you know what you want to grow in your garden this year? Now is this time to choose! What do you like to eat? What would you like to try? Some crops are early, and you’ll get to eat them soon—like peas and radishes. Others will take more time, like tomatoes and pumpkins. Choose crops carefully and you’ll have food to eat all summer long!
Where to find ideas:
- Seed catalogs (paper copies you may receive in the mail or online catalogs) are a great place to start—look at the pictures and find your favorites and maybe something new to try. Think about including some flowers to attract pollinators!
- Black Mountain Library Sowing Circle is one community resource that has information and a seed-saving library you can visit during regular library hours.
How to decide!
Check on how much space your plants will take: how big is your garden plot or how much space do you have for container gardening? If you are gardening for the first time, pick a sunny spot that is easy to water. Test the soil now and fertilize and lime as directed!
- Look at what you’d like to grow and figure how much ground or what size container will you need to grow this crop. Many crops need more than one plant for pollination and/or to produce enough to eat. Most vining plants need a lot of space or some kind of vertical support.
- Make a map of where you’ll put each crop or container. Outdoors you can have fun doing some quick measurements—measure your shoe with a ruler or yardstick and then walk around your garden area to figure how may “feet” your garden area measures!
Planning to plant
Can you put seeds directly in the garden? When? If you need to set out plants, do you have time and space to grow the plants to set out, or will you buy transplants?
- If you want to start your own plants, read the seed-growing instructions and count back from the last frost date (you can use May 10 as a rough date for Buncombe County) to know when to plant for indoor starts.
- Make a calendar and include when to plant your seeds both indoors (if you are starting your own plants) or outdoors.
Get ready, get set:
If you’ll be planting seeds, get them now! Many popular and new varieties sell out quickly and your seeds will be fine for the few weeks or months before you’ll plant them.
With transplants, though, be careful not to buy them too soon! Use your calendar to decide when to buy, not when you see plants for sale. You may end up with spindly, sickly, or overgrown plants if you buy them too early.
Get an adult to help you figure out how to prepare your garden plot and/or containers. You may need to have your soil tested or buy potting soil. Make sure you follow directions on how close to plant seeds or plants and any other information about watering and fertilizing to be sure your crops will grow!
Article by Debbie Green, Extension Master GardenerSM Volunteer
For more on the Black Mountain Sowing Circle programs (FOR ADULTS):
Feb. 1, 10 to 11:30 AM, Free Gardening Workshops on Starting Seeds Indoors and How to Sharpen Pruning Tools. Black Mountain Library, Education Room
The seed library will provide free materials to get you started: seed starter soil, containers, and seeds to take home (limited quantities). Bring your small pruning tools for sharpening. Presentations are in partnership with Black Mountain Blooms Seed Lending Library and Buncombe County Extension Master Gardener Volunteers.
Vegetable gardening planting times: https://extensiongardener.ces.ncsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/NC-Vegetable-Planting-Guide-1.pdf?fwd=no
**Note: Planting times for Western North Carolina Mountains are in purple and times to harvest from seed are indicated in the left-hand column. Those with an “*” should be started indoors rather direct seeded in the garden.**
For more on kids measuring in the garden: