As the spring sun peeks through winter’s gray, the Capital Area Food Bank is gearing up to dig its Urban Demonstration Garden.
Home gardeners are also preparing for the season. From our garden to yours, here are three tips to ensure your garden “springs forward.”
Start with the soil. First time gardener? Seasoned veteran? Success means starting with the basics. Healthy soil, easy drainage and access to water increase your ability to create a thriving garden. When growing in any space, test for soil quality and if you are growing in containers, replace your soil every season so plants have access to essential nutrients.
Make your bed(s). After lying dormant for the winter season, garden beds require spring cleaning. To prepare your beds, turn under any growth from the previous season.
- Raised beds require less tilling and are often easier to manage long term.
- To break up compacted urban soil, double digging is a great technique to increase drainage and help develop ideal soil structure.
Adding organic matter to enrich the soil is the last step in creating garden beds that will thrive all season. The best source for organic matter is COMPOST! Compost adds nutrient-rich humus to fuel plant growth and restore vitality to depleted soil.
Plan for Plants. Choose what you want to grow. Some plants should be planted from seed and others from transplants. This season, the food bank is partnering with Friends and Food International, Inc. and the students of the McKinley Tech High School’s Green Team to grow transplants for the Urban Demonstration Garden in their school greenhouse.
Either grow your own seedlings or purchase them. Before you invest in seeds or plants, think carefully about what will be best for you to grow. Narrow down your list to the produce that you love to eat, is expensive in the store, and that you have space to grow. Use this planting guide (PDF) when planting your personalized list.
Keep checking the food bank blog for updates on the building of the Capital Area Food Bank’s Urban Demonstration Garden and learn how to get involved.
Abbie Steiner is the Capital Area Food Bank’s Resident Food Growing Expert. Follow her on Twitter at @redheadgardener.