Alright, y’all. So now that you did a little homework and caught some inspiration, let’s discuss prep work! Depending on what you’re planting and where you live, it’s most likely too early to get really planting, but it’s never too early to get prepping. Please remember that I, too, am a novice gardener and this is all based on knowledge through experience.
Now is a great time to cut back all the dead stuff in your yard, including hedges that need trimming, sticks plants hanging out in the pots from last summer, and vines that need to be cut down. There are so many dead spots in my yard, but as the weather warms up, I can already see green poking back through!
If you don’t cut things back - not withstanding the actual dead plants that you need to pull - you will still get green plants coming back in, but they won’t look as neat and put together because there will be the dead looking parts underneath all the green. That is a totally unsophisticated way of saying - it will look ugly if you don’t cut things back down they start growing back in!
TO MULCH OR NOT TO MULCH
Jeff and I argue about which way is best every single year. Should we mulch before we plant in our beds or after we plant? We’ve done it both ways and I think it comes down to personal preference. I find it hard to dig through mulch to plant flowers, but I also get irritated when the wheelbarrow plows over my existing plants as well - not that I have any experience with that at all.
We typically do mulch in a weekend at our house. Check with your local dump to see if they provide truck loads of mulch. It’s generally very inexpensive and you can pick your color. A handful of neighbors combine wheelbarrows, shovels and man power to get it done quicker - and have more fun doing it. Our kids love Mulch Weekend - and this year I think they might do more of the heavy lifting!
This is my favorite part, y'all. Start to gather (or make) containers that you want to use when it comes planting time. Containers can be ANYTHING, all you need to do is make sure there are enough holes in the bottom for adequate drainage (not that I have ANY experience with that mistake!) If there aren't enough holes just take a drill to the bottom of the container and that will fix it right up!
One of my favorite containers for veggies are large whiskey barrels that you buy at Home Depot or Lowe’s. These are great if you don’t have a lot of space. I also have one of these from Williams Sonoma, but it’s several years old and is quite worn. The other disadvantage of this guy is that it’s not very deep. BUT, you can find tons of stuff just like it on Pinterest and amazon!
Two years ago Jeff built me this vegetable garden and last year I added the gate around it (again, the dang rabbits!) It was SUPER EASY, y’all. If you have pretty much any kind of saw and a drill you can do it. Just remember to line the bottom with weed liner. We actually did it twice. We did it before we laid down the wood and then we did it inside the frame as well, a little bit up the sides. We have never had a problem with weeds in here (now, I am sure we will that I said that).
It's time to get those stubborn leaves out of your beds and begin to weed. If you have a lot of weeds, look into getting a weed killer at your local nursery. If you need to dig beds, begin to plan out where you want them and how deep you’ll dig them, what you will use to line them and what you will use to edge them. Get your beds prepped and ready to go prior to purchasing plants, seedlings or seeds!
SOIL and COMPOST
Two years ago, we purchased a truck load of compost from our local dump (where we also purchased mulch). I did not have a fertile garden that year so I think I am a bit jaded when it comes to purchasing compost. I like to purchase something local. For those of y’all who are in Texas, this is my favorite. I only use this for my fruits, vegetables and herbs. For all of our flowers, I use miracle grow potting soil - because it truly is a miracle.
You might have to do a bit of research to find compost that is local to your area. I know that Miracle Grow has a Nature’s Care brand of compost but it would most likely not be local to your area. Just type into google “Best compost for _______” and then fill in your city or state. Something awesome will pop up because it's Google.
There are also a lot of fancy people “blending” their soils and compost and vitamins (who knew?) together. That’s not how I do it. Maybe one day, I’ll get that knowledgable, but for right now straight soil and straight compost get me to where I need to go, so don't let all that fancy talk scare you away. You can do this!
Okay, let's talk fertlizer. This is a hot button topic for many gardeners, but I LOVE to fertilize. For all of my perennials that are beginning to come back, I use Miracle Grow fertilizer as soon as I start to see a bit of green popping through once a week. I love the kind that you connect to your hose and water through - it lasts me two weeks at least.
For all of my edibles, I like this fertilizer and for everything (except tomatoes) I also fertilize once a week. There are many different schools of thought here, but I like to do it every week until the dead heat of summer kicks in.
I know that was packed full of information, so here is a short cut of the supplies that will be on your list to buy and have in stock before you purchase your plants:
Bed supplies, if needed (liner, edging, weed control, etc.)
If all of this seems overwhelming but you still want the joy of gardening, I wanted to add these two resources for pre-planned gardens.
I read about Mini Farm Box in a magazine and it looks adorable, and very self-explanatory although maybe a bit pricey. If you want a garden of edibles, but don’t want to put a ton of thought into it, this might be your jam.
One of my girlfriends who loves to garden and had TONS of bed space ordered a drought-resistant perennial garden from Blue Stone Perennials a few years ago. This is her third spring with them and they continue to come back even bigger and better than the previous year! I highly recommend this based on her experience. Just know that when they come they will look small and sort of dinky, but they do fill out beautifully! Trust me. If you want beautiful low maintenance perennial flowers, this is such a great bet.
Okay so that's it!!! Next time we'll get planting, I promise!!!! I'd love to hear about your progress or answer any questions you might have! You can find me on Instagram @littlebranches.