For me, one of the best parts of spring is the bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables that are available at farmers markets and roadside stands, not to mention the gorgeous flowers that spring to life and color the landscape. Produce that’s in season just tastes better, and knowing it comes from local sources adds to that good feeling. However, with grocery bills skyrocketing with seemingly no end in sight, buying healthy foods can get to be an expensive proposition.
There is a way to curb your spending and still enjoy fresh produce: Grow it yourself! Whether you’re a novice gardener or a certified green thumb, here are some tips to make the most of your spring garden so you can reap the benefits of what you sow. Not only will you be eating healthy and enjoying your beautiful flowers, you’ll have a sense of pride when you pick that first homegrown carrot. Here’s how to do it.
Get in Gear for the Year
If you’re lucky enough to have fruit trees on your property, congratulations! You have a great source for fresh apples, pears or peaches all summer long. If you want to ensure that they bear enough fruit, it’s important to prune those trees in early spring, before the growing season begins. This will ensure that the trees remain healthy and also makes it much easier to pick that fruit come harvest time.
Speaking of pruning, spring is also the perfect time to trim back your roses if you have them. Be sure to do this before new flowers begin to bloom. This will encourage strong growth and lots of blooms, as well as give the plants more room to grow. Also prune summer-blooming shrubs in the early spring.
If you don’t have any fruit trees but want some, it is very easy to plant and care for them. Experts advise that you buy a bare-root fruit from a local nursery and select an open and sunny spot to plant it in. Spring is the perfect time for planting, since the ground is warm enough to dig up and your tree will easily acclimate to its new home.
If you’ve covered your garden with protective mulch over the winter, be sure to carefully remove it to encourage growth. The best time to do this is in early spring, after the risk of extremely cold temperatures has passed. Also, be sure to pull any weeds while they’re still small and easy to remove. This will make your life much easier down the road!
Can’t wait for summer flowers? Now is the time to plant some cool-season annuals so you can enjoy blooms right away. These sturdy plants can handle a little frost in case the nights get chilly in your region. Options include pansies, violas, calendula and snapdragons. Plant them in flower beds or containers to enjoy a longer season of color.
Your perennial plants also need a little TLC at this time of year. If plants have become crowded and clumped together, as varieties like irises, asters and hostas tend to do, dig them up and split them apart. They will bloom better if they have more space to grow in, and then you’ll enjoy even more of those beautiful blooms.
Want fresh produce but don’t want to wait for those summer tomatoes? There are plenty of vegetable varieties that thrive in the sometimes cooler weather of spring. Now is the time to plant vegetables such as carrots, radishes and spinach that are able to tolerate light freezes and frost.
If you are a potato lover, spring is the best time to get them in the ground. Just make sure to plant seed potatoes two weeks before the last anticipated freeze date in order for them to thrive. Plant them about 6 inches deep and about 8 to 10 inches apart. Potatoes grow best in spring and early summer, so get them in the ground early enough to enjoy more home-grown potatoes.
Protect Your Plants
After all that hard work to get your garden started, you’ll want to make sure you keep pests at bay. Consider humane repellents and traps, such as those at Havahart, which has many products to keep critters like squirrels, groundhogs and raccoons from wreaking havoc in your garden. Then you can fully enjoy a garden that looks like this gorgeous retreat from Havahart’s Pinterest board without the fear of animals nibbling away at all your hard work.
Planting and caring for your spring garden takes time and effort, but you will reap the benefits long into summer. So get planting now and get ready to enjoy the fruits of your labors.