You’ve Ordered Your Seeds, Now What?
By Dianne Venetta
Now’s the time to design your beds, your rows—you name it. Put your thinking caps on, because this part requires a bit of “know-how.” Planting vegetables that need full-sun in a part-shade area is a bad idea. Worse, it’s a waste of time. And your time is valuable. I mean, we’re talking hot commodity here!
It’s sort of like chemistry. If you deviate from the standard, you may end up with an entirely unexpected outcome, ie. mold on your broccoli, missing blooms from your tomatoes, carrots too small to eat… It’s no good. Trust me. More space on the northern-facing side of your yard is no reason to plant your veggies there.
Another point to remember is size. (Yes, size matters.) At the garden center, most plants are in small containers which make for easy transplanting. However, once home, do not make the mistake of spacing them according to their current size. They grow. Sometimes quite a bit. Caught me off guard a time or two, so be prudent, and read the label. You’ll be glad you did. There’s nothing lovelier than the layered look of foliage in your garden, from flowers and hedges to fruits and vegetables. But if the plants are placed too close together? You can stunt their growth. You can invite fungus, due to poor air circulation. Ick. Then, there’s the work of pulling them up and tossing them out. Gardening should be a pleasure, not a chore.
Something else to consider when designing your layout is the plants themselves. Certain plants thrive next to one another while others are simply ill-suited to be in the same row, let alone the same garden. This is known as companion planting and is Mother Nature’s secret to success. Encourage “friends” to be close, and “foes” to be distant. Examples of good friends are carrots and beets, corn and beans, strawberries and cantaloupe. Even limas and marigold, garlic and roses! Why? Because marigold is a wonderful plant for repelling nematodes that like to attack the roots of your plants. Garlic is rumored to increase the perfume of roses, repel aphids, and prevent black spot. Corn gives beans support to climb, while beans feed corn the nitrogen they need. Like a good hostess, you simply must know who likes whom, and who doesn’t!
Arch enemies? Well, that may be a bit dramatic, but beans and onions are no good together, nor are tomatoes and dill. You see, the dill plant attracts the hornworm and the hornworm, if given the chance, will consume an entire tomato plant in a single afternoon. I’ve heard some gardeners suggest planting dill near your tomatoes to lure the hornworm away, but I don’t trust the little bugger. They make the “hungry caterpillar” look like a waif!
And perhaps most important of all? Be sure you have a reliable water source nearby, else you’ll be trekking across the lawn lugging a heavy water pail in your hands. If there’s fish emulsion inside that pail, you’ll end up smelling like low tide. NOT recommended.
Please. Read the label, know your dimensions, then get busy and have some fun! Spring is around the corner and you absolutely must be prepared.
Meet the Author
Award-winning author D.S. Venetta lives in Central Florida with her husband and two children. It was volunteering in her children’s Montessori school garden that gave rise to her new series Wild Tales & Garden Thrills, stories bursting with the real-life experiences of young gardeners. Children see the world from a totally different perspective than adults and Venetta knows their adventures will surely inspire a new generation to get outside, and get digging.
When not crafting her next novel, D.S. Venetta hosts a garden blog, Bloominthyme.com, where she demonstrates just how easy and fun gardening can be! Additionally, Venetta has been featured for her gardening advice on various websites, including GalTime, EarthEats, eHow, IdealHomeGarden, Huffington Post, and the cookbook Earth Eats: Real Food Green Living. Passionate about organic gardening, her dream is to see a garden in every school, library, and community.
You can read Dianne's gardening column on the 2nd Wednesday each month here at Pandora's Box Gazette.