Gardening Fun: Time to Plant Garlic and Beginning Gardening!

They say that you need a “Happy Place” to go to when life becomes a little too busy or stressful and for most of the year that place for me is in my garden. Yes, gardening can be work but for me, it’s an escape, a place to just sort of shut off all thinking and “zone out.” I have two younger children and it works out perfectly that they can play outside in our backyard while I focus on growing some great veggies and herbs. They’ll often come over and help me out for awhile and it’s such a great way to spend time together. It’s hard to beat fresh air, sunshine, family time and knowing that you are going to be harvesting some nutritious food for your family.

Every year I hope to find time to help my readers get a garden started and I only make it through some posts early on. Well, folks, this is the year it happens! So as the months tick on, I’ll be sharing what things I’m doing in my garden to get things growing and I’ll be encouraging you to check your own planting zones to see what should be happening in your area.

If you haven’t started your gardens yet, you’ll want to take time to plot out an area where you’d love to start next spring. It’s a great time of year to keep an eye on the stores to watch for sales on items you’ll need as several stores are starting to clearance their items, if they don’t sell them year-round. So before you begin further, you’ll want to do a little research on how to garden and the best spots for setting one up. You’ll need to decide if you want an in-ground garden, a raised bed garden or if you want to just start off with something simple like lettuce/herb bowls and potted plants like tomatoes or peppers. I have had great success with square foot gardening and highly recommend checking out the book Square Foot Gardening at your library as it’s the book I found to be the most useful when I was just beginning. It goes into great detail about how to begin setting up a garden that’s fairly easy to maintain.

So if you are thinking about starting a garden, take time to do these steps:
1) Decide on which method of gardening is best for you. Also, watch your yard/porch/deck etc. for a few days and keep track of where you get the most/least sun.
2) Read the book Square Foot Gardening to get a high-level idea of how to start a garden. There’s great info there even if you aren’t going to go with the raised bed method. Check out the Hardiness Zone Map to find out which one you fall in. (I’m in Zone 5.)
3) Start looking for items on clearance/deals so you can get started right away next spring without breaking the budget! Great things to pick up would be pots, smaller hoes, shovel, garden gloves and maybe even some seeds.

OK, that’s enough tasks for now. I’ll go into more in the next article.

Moving on to those of you that already have an established garden….

It’s October which is a great time to plant some garlic. Garlic is a fairly easy crop to grow. I found a great article on Organic Gardening that will help you with step-by-step instructions on how they recommend planting them. There’s also a “Garlic Growing Guide” that you might find useful. (If you are more of a visual person, here’s a video from BHG on garlic.) I planted garlic for the first time two years ago. I got quite a bit of advice from some farmers at our nearby farmer’s market. I even used some of what they sold as my starters. Farmer’s Markets are great places to find a wider variety of garlic. If you don’t know where there might be one near you, try checking Local Harvest to see if there’s anything nearby.

So this is project one for our 2013 gardens. Keep an eye out for future posts!