The calendar may say it’s winter, but many Indiana gardeners are already making plans for spring. There’s a reason why the seed catalogs start to arrive while the ground is still frozen. A successful gardening season begins with careful research and planning.
Gardening has become more popular over the past couple of years, due in part to the global pandemic. Are you interested in putting your green thumb to work this year? Do you envision delicious dinners made with your garden’s bounty of produce? Or would you be happy with a field of flowers you can cut and arrange for yourself and your friends? Now is the perfect time to prep for this year’s gardening season.
Make your plans
What do you want to grow this year? If you’ve gardened before, you might know what produce is the most popular in your household. If you planted two cucumber plants that took over your small garden plots last year, you’ve learned an important lesson: Cucumber plants are garden hogs. Would you like to try something new? Consider planting colorful dahlias, which are one of the predicted gardening trends of 2022.
Yes, you can buy pepper plants at the local nursery in the spring, but wouldn’t it be fun to know you grew that peck of pickled peppers from your own seeds? Plan on purchasing clay pots or peat pots for the seedlings to take root inside before you move them to their permanent garden location after the final frost. Each seed packet includes directions for starting the seed, so there’s less guess work. Don’t forget to order your summer-flowering bulbs as well. You’ll be glad when you see the color in your garden when it gets warm.
Clean your tools
Leftover soil from last year can harbor bacteria or fungal spores. Rather than rinsing off your tools in the utility tub, soak them in a solution of 10% bleach and 90% water to kill the nasty pathogens. Make sure to rinse everything thoroughly so there’s no bleach left behind.
Clean up the garden beds
Once your soil is workable, clear your garden of last year’s plants, debris, and weeds. Purchase a soil test kit from the hardware store to check your soil’s PH level. You’re shooting for a level between 6.0 and 6.8. The Purdue Extension Hancock County office is a great resource for information about soil health and planting. Dig up your garden soil about a foot deep, add compost, and rake it level.
Indiana winters only feel like they’re going to last forever. Spring will eventually make its debut after what seems like endless weeks of cold and dreary weather. So open those seed catalogs now and start planning for the growing season. It’ll be here before you know it!