Get Your Garden Going!

Despite occasional rain and snow, winter is over and it’s time to get your garden going!

The super gardeners have made their plans, but it’s not too late for the rest of us to take advantage of the long growing season ahead.

Start Your Seedlings

If you’re starting from scratch (which not only saves money, but watching seeds germinate can be pretty gratifying!), the Farmer’s Almanac has charts so you get the timing right. Most annual flowers and vegetables should be sown indoors about six weeks before the last frost. You may have to soak, scratch, or chill seeds before planting; just follow the instructions on the packet.

Treat yourself to this Weed ‘Em and Reap article about buying seeds online with links to some of the best heirloom, organic and non-GMO seed sites.

Mother Earth News (she should know, right?) has extensive tips for starting vegetable seeds indoors, and cautions away from certain containers and ingredients. This article recommends about one-half cup of seed starting mix per container and extols the virtues of vermiculite, an organic, asbestos-free soil helper that promotes faster root growth and quickly anchors young roots.

Compost is King

gardenMaybe you’ve heard this, but to supercharge your garden, compost is king. The sage folks at Cornell University say there’s a growing interest in composting because it reduces waste and returns valuable fertilizer to the soil. It’s so great for gardening, landscaping and house plants, it’s about the greenest thing you can do!

You can make your own compost bin, or buy one (here’s a review of the latest systems to purchase), and this how-to compost tutorial will give you an idea of how easy and nutritious it is for your flowers and plants. Compost is more than just potato skins and apple cores, as you clear away the dead perennials from last year and shred old newspapers, you can toss those in, too!

Manure Works, Too!

Mother Earth News offers more tips on using your blender to turn banana peels, eggshells and coffee grounds into easy fertilizer without composting.

And if you don’t drink coffee or eat bananas, you’ll want to add nutrients to the soil with the store-bought variety of compost, and maybe a little cow, horse or chicken manure a few weeks before planting. That gives the good stuff time to mix with the soil so it won’t burn the roots of your new plants.

DIY Potting Soil

gardenJill at The Prairie Homestead likes digging in the dirt so much she even makes her own potting soil. There are several ways to do it, she says, the important thing is making sure it’s firm enough to support the plant but light enough to allow air and water to flow. Jill uses coconut coir, compost and perlite (obsidian plant growth media).

Sweet Potato Explosion

 If you like sweet potatoes (and who doesn’t? But if you raised your hand try this recipe!) try growing your own. They aren’t started from seeds like other vegetables, but from slips – shoots that are grown from a mature sweet potato. The DIY Network gives you a step-by-step tutorial to turn one sweet potato into 50 slip sprouts!

Spring in Colliers Hill

Spring is popping out all over the master-planned community of Colliers Hill in Erie. If you haven’t stopped by to tour one or all of the 11 beautiful models from Shea Homes and Richmond American Homes, take a break from gardening and come say “hello!” The new ranch and two-story homes at Colliers Hill are priced from the upper $300s to the $600s.