Spring is coming to North Carolina, and now is the time to start planning your garden. Even if you just have a small backyard, balcony off your new apartment, or patio garden, it’s time to buy seed and planters and start gearing up. Here are some planning tips to get you started.
Choose the Best Spot
In order to grow tasty veggies and fruits, you need a place for your garden that receives at least 6 hours of sun a day. Planting your garden in a shaded spot is a recipe for failure. Once you’ve found your spot, test the soil to see what type it is by bringing a sample to your local agricultural extension office. This will help you know how to best prepare the soil for the type of plants you’ll be growing. Finally, till up the soil and add fertilizer, line, topsoil or other organic material as recommended when you tested the soil. If you are container gardening, prepare your containers with the recommended soil mix for the type of plants you are growing.
Start Sprouts Now
One way to ensure you get a full growing season out of your plants is to start them indoors before you can safely plant outdoors. You can plant seeds and sprouts in indoor planters and place them near a sunny window, encouraging strong growth before transplanting outdoors. This allows you to plant when you are certain we won’t have an unexpected North Carolina cold snap, without sacrificing these early spring weeks of growing time. Most indoor sprouts need about 8 weeks of growing before transplanting into your garden.
Protect Your Plants
After spring planting, play a layer of straw or newspaper over the top of the soil. This will help keep weeds at bay without chemicals, and it will also help prevent runoff of nutrient-rich topsoil when you have a heavy spring rain. Wire mesh fencing around the garden can keep animals and kids out as well. Discuss pest prevention strategies with your local ag extension office, which will know the pests you’re at risk for in your particular part of the state. If you wish to go organic, use hoop houses to protect against insects.
Gardening is a labor in love. Spend time now, and you will enjoy the fruits of that labor in the summer and fall when your produce starts to ripen.