Planning Your Spring Garden Begins Now

Hello, fellow gardeners!

Today we’re digging into the world of vegetable gardens. I'm here to share some tips that will help you get the most out of your garden this year.

Getting Started: Location, Location, Location

My Raised Bed Garden June 2023

First things first, let's talk location. Your vegetable garden needs a spot that gets plenty of sunlight - at least six hours a day. If you're short on space, don’t worry - Container gardening can be a great alternative. Choose large pots (14” or larger) and place them in sunny spots on your patio or balcony.

Soil: The Foundation of Your Garden

Soil health is crucial. Vegetables thrive in well-draining soil rich in organic matter. We’ll dive more into soil mixes in a future blog article, but for now just keep in mind that you’ll need to enrich your soil with compost or organic matter. This not only improves soil structure but also boosts nutrient content. In my raised bed gardens, I add a 2” layer of compost each year and till it into the existing soil. Here at the garden center, you can choose bulk compost if you’ve got a big garden, or for small plots pick up some Garden Magic Compost, which comes in 40lb bags.

Garden Magic

Choosing Your Vegetables: What to Grow

Now, the exciting part – selecting your veggies! Of course, first you should think about what you and your family love to eat. Tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, and cucumbers are great for beginners. For Indiana climates, consider cold-tolerant veggies like broccoli, kale or Brussels sprouts for early spring or late fall planting. Personally, I am “Tomato and Peppers” kind of guy. Last year I grew 12 different varieties of tomatoes, so I could taste-test each one to pick a favorite. I loved some of the heirloom varieties, especially “Cherokee Purple.”

Of course, a lot of the vegetable selection depends on how much space you have. Vining plants like cucumbers or melons take up a lot of space so plan accordingly. If you really want to be savvy and efficient with your gardening space, search for articles on "Square Foot Gardening," which helps you plan out every inch of your space to get the most out of your plot.

Planting Schedule: Timing is Everything

Timing is key in gardening. In Indiana, our last frost date is traditionally around the first week of May. If you start from seeds, your gardening adventure begins indoors in late February or early March. Transplant your seedlings outdoors when the threat of frost has passed. Remember, some veggies like carrots or radishes should be directly sown into the garden.

Time Saving Tip: If starting seeds sounds like too much work, just wait until the beginning of May and select your veggies and herb starts from the garden center. Here at Wasson Nursery, we’ll have countless varieties of plants grown in 3” pots and ready to be transplanted into your garden. And for those who are really ready to get started, we’ll have tomatoes and peppers in one gallon pots and even some in larger pots to set right on your patio. (No digging required!)

This is an example of a 3" Vegetable start available at Wasson Nursery.

Watering: Quenching Your Garden's Thirst

Watering is vital but over-watering is a common mistake. Your vegetable garden needs about an inch of water per week. It's best to water deeply and less frequently to encourage strong root growth. Early morning is the best time to water, reducing evaporation and disease risk.

Time Saving Tip: Find a good sprinkler and an automatic timer. This will cover you most of the week, but you’ll still need to check on your plants a few times a week to ensure the water coverage is sufficient. We don't sell these types of products so I've linked to a good sprinkler and timer that I have personally used.

 Pest Control: Keep Your Veggies Safe

Pests - every gardener's challenge. Keep an eye out for common culprits like aphids or tomato hornworms. Use organic pest control methods like neem oil or insecticidal soap. Encouraging beneficial insects, like ladybugs, is also a great natural defense. We have a plethora of pest and disease control options that are both natural and organic, but as mentioned above the following two are important to have on hand during the growing season.

  1. Neem Oil: This is a powerful, all-natural solution that works wonders against a wide variety of pests, including aphids, mites, scale, and whiteflies, along with some fungal diseases like powdery mildew and rust. Neem oil works as an insecticide, miticide, and fungicide, making it incredibly versatile. It's derived from the seeds of the neem tree and is safe for use on vegetables and most plants. When using neem oil, it's crucial to follow the application instructions carefully, and it's best used in the evening or early morning to avoid harming beneficial insects and to minimize leaf burn.
  2. Insecticidal Soap: This is another excellent choice for organic gardeners. Insecticidal soap is effective against soft-bodied insects like aphids, spider mites, whiteflies, and mealybugs. It works by breaking down the insect's protective outer layer, leading to dehydration. It's safe for use on vegetables and has the advantage of being non-toxic to humans and animals. It's also relatively gentle on beneficial insects, especially when applied correctly. Just like with neem oil, it's best to apply it in cooler parts of the day to avoid harming the plants. 

Harvest Time: Reaping the Rewards

Harvesting at the right time is crucial for the best flavor. Regular harvesting often encourages more production, so don’t be shy about picking those veggies! Also, on a personal note if you plant 12 varieties of tomato plants, you better be ready to do A LOT of harvesting.

Tomato Time

Conclusion: Your Garden, Your Journey

Remember, gardening is truly a journey.  Take your time, enjoy the process, and don't be afraid to make mistakes. Every season is a learning opportunity. One of my recent mistakes is overcrowding. In other words, I planted my 12 tomato plants too close together which made proper watering very difficult, the plants produced less fruit, and it was just a mess! Lesson learned, will do better in ’24!

At Wasson Nursery, we're here to help you every step of the way. Drop by for plants, seeds, supplies, or just a bit of advice over the garden fence. Happy gardening, and here's to a fruitful vegetable garden this season!

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