03 February, 2013

GARDENING ADVENTURES {before you begin}

Last week I've introduced a new series here at SAS does - GARDENING ADVENTURES.  This year I want to share my gardening experience and hopefully inspire you to start a garden of your own.  Today we'll begin with things to consider before starting your garden. I will be talking a lot about seed starting but even if you are planning on buying your seedlings and plants, you need to take space, climate, and free time you have in consideration.


First, you need to figure out how much space you have for your plants.  If you are planning on starting your plants from seeds, think about the space indoors as well.
Outdoors: If you are lucky to have a spacious backyard or a nice big front yard you can "go crazy" and "plant your little heart out".  For the first couple of years you most definitely won't need to worry about running out of space, but you will still need to think about the aesthetics and consider sunny and shadowy areas of your yard.
If you are limited to a balcony and container gardening you might want to do a rough estimate of how many plants you will be able to fit.  Another option is to find lots of friends who will be willing to accept your extra seedlings and plants.
Indoors: If you are starting some of your plants from seeds keep in mind that seedlings will need a lot of light.  If you get plenty (and I mean at least full 8 hours) of direct sunlight you can give your windowsills a try.  I've never been successful starting seedlings on a windowsill so my suggestion is to dedicate a shelf or a small table in your house to your seed starting experiments.  There is nothing worse than tall leggy seedlings that did not get enough light and that die after the first heavy rainfall. 
I will show you my seed starting set up in one of the next Gardening Adventures posts.

My experience: I am lucky to have a fairly big yard so this year I am really concerned with the indoor space.  Right now I have room for 50 seedlings under  the lights and I am contemplating getting a second light fixture.  The big questions is where will I put it!


Before buying plants or seedlings you need to identify your plant hardiness zone and get your frost dates down.  This is especially important for seed starting, since most seeds will need 6-10 weeks of indoor growth before being transplanted outside.  A fast Google search (like this and this) will help you to find answers to these questions.
It might be almost unbelievable to find out that the frost danger in your area is in mid - May (like it is for Montreal).  Last year as I was working outside in a t-shirt in April I was tempted to transplant my tiny seedlings outside before the frost date.  A couple of weeks later, when the temperature dipped unexpectedly I was very happy that I didn't do so. My advice is to always go by frost dates in your area!

My experience: I live in zone 5 which pushes frost date in my area to mid-May.  Last year I was quite successful starting my seedling in March so this year I will do the same. 



Time is probably the most important aspect to consider before jumping into your gardening adventures.  Caring for seedlings seems like an easy task but this is just the beginning of your gardening journey.  Throughout the year you will need to spend quite a bit of time in your garden: transplanting, weeding, watering, and fertilizing.
Gardening is a time consuming activity and it might be hard for a novice gardener to estimate time needed to be spend outdoors.  If it's your first year - start small, because you can always add to your garden by buying new plants throughout the season.

My experience: I am hoping to have plenty of time for gardening this year.  I will need Eric's help in May for hardening my seedlings off (gradual exposure of seedlings to outdoor conditions) since I work most weekdays.

Next time we'll talk about the difference between annual and perennial plants.  Meanwhile, I will be happy to hear your gardening stories and answer any of your questions.  Just leave a comment or email SAS.does(@)gmail(.)com


No comments:

Post a Comment