‘Tis the season… for gardening that is. We’ve made it through what was for some a very frigid winter and for others a continuing exiguity of rainfall. Nevertheless, with the Vernal Equinox having already come and gone, (“summer is coming!”) it is time to clean the rust off of the gardening tools and plan/t accordingly. Granted, the ever consistent gardener is already two months into their growing season and beginning to reap the benefits of early blooms. However, fear not, it’s still not too late for the rest of us to have a chance to cultivate a successful garden this year. Whether it’s plotting out a 16’ x 10’ veggie garden full of 90-day-or-less bloomers or arranging container plantings of your favorite annuals, there is still time.
Time to get started and the key at any stage is to first plan accordingly and to not allow procrastination to take precedence over preparation. There is nothing worse than an uncontrolled impulse shopping spree at the local nursery and then going home only to place your six packs on the patio and watch them outgrow theirs containers while they wither away next to an outlined yet never tilled garden plot. Imagine the money you could save if you had everything laid out beforehand. There is a culinary term which describes this perfectly: “Mise en place” or “put in place.” It is essentially the discipline of having everything that you’ll require in place before you begin. This practice will keep a one day project from becoming a one week fiasco filled with multiple trips to the store coupled with excuses/reasons as to why you can’t begin to plant yet.
If you have already resigned yourself to the notion that it’s too late in the season and I’m not even going to bother, take some time to prep your garden for next year. Use this opportunity to monitor the duration of sun over a potential garden plot by using a sundial or more simply a 3 ft. stick placed vertically into the ground so as to track the shadow that it casts throughout the day. This technique will ultimately help you to plan the layout of a future garden by knowing where to place the lettuce in relation to say, “the sunflowers.” Or imagine which plants you would like to see more of next year without having to pay more for that pleasure. The next time you’re at the nursery, consider selecting a smaller container of a favorite perennial with the intention of transferring it to a larger pot later; accompanied by extra feedings throughout the summer to stimulate rapid growth. So come the Autumnal Equinox, take that one favorite specimen and propagate thirty. Keep in mind that you want to take these cuttings higher up on the plant and to leave yourself enough plant material for the potential stem if your cuttings are from any pre-fall pruning. And before said plant is completely bald, make sure to observe which areas were lush and which had suffered hotspots or minimal branching. This way, any cloned specimens can be placed in a more optimal setting in your future garden.
So whether you’re taking advantage of this time of year to gradually begin your garden with an elevated planter or going gung ho on revamping the entire backyard, either way, take the time to make a list and check it twice.