It’s almost Mothers day, and around here in my corner of Minnesota, that means it’s almost time to plant your garden!
My mom had a huge garden while we were growing up, but I never truly appreciated it until I got older. My mom supplied us with food all summer and most of the winter with what she was able to grow. That doesn’t even account for the countless amounts of produce that she gives away for other people to use. Being outside is something she very much enjoys and her garden helped her provide food for our family, which helped cut down on our living expense.
The saying is like mother like daughter. Well, I am much more like my dad but the older I get, the more I enjoy gardening and learning about it from my mom. My mom has cut back on her garden the last few years since all of us kids have moved out which left her with some extra space. Space I am happy to fill! There are some plants that I just use my mom’s favorite variety, but I tend to have a different flavor pallet and enjoy making different recipes from my mom, so I had to figure out how to decided what to plant. Woo Hoo right! And then I got the seed catalog and my Woo Hoo went to OHHH!
All I could think was seriously how do people decide? There are countless types of tomatoes varieties alone and do I get seeds or do I get plants; my husband’s the only one who enjoys them fresh I just like to cook and can with them! Then I took a look at the peppers because why would I plant tomatoes and not make salsa? Offta! Well, two years later, some help from my mom, and some not so great looking plants I finally have it mostly figured out! So here are my recommendations when you first start a garden on how to find plants that work for you, and maybe you can avoid some of my mistakes!
(If varieties scare you think of it this way, it’s still a tomato, but it will have certain characteristics that make it better for one thing or another)
Make your list first!
It’s easy to think oh I’ll just look through the catalog and pick out things that look good! You will most likely be overwhelmed, Instead, decide what you want to make with each item. If you want to can or freeze some, and what you want to eat fresh. I plant different tomatoes for canning than I do for eating. It’s much easier than trying to cook out excess water from my spaghetti sauce!
Decided what you want to start from seeds and what you want to buy as plants.
Maybe you think you want to start everything from seeds, Great, just don’t forget your germination time! I learned this the hard way the first year I wanted to plant peppers. They take forever to germinate, and I started the seeds too late! We also don’t have a very long growing season in Minnesota. My pepper plants did not produce very long which was a big disappointment!
Be careful where you order from
If you are ordering seeds and plants from a catalog or an online company make sure you find a company for your growing area. The USDA has split the United States up into different growing zones depending on the growing season. Make sure you get plants for your area. If you are on the border of a zone you may be able to order a few more variety types. If you don’t know your growing zone just search, United States cold hardiness zones, go to images, and it’ll have a map for you to be able to figure it out.
Decide what you are buying local.
I love supporting local greenhouses, but they tend to carry plants that are more in demand. I can’t always find the variety I want to because of it. Most of my pepper plants, tomato plants, seed potatoes, and herbs I get locally since those are common for most people in the area to plant. My watermelon seeds I tend to buy through a catalog so I can get the variety that I want because not many people around here plant watermelon.
Figure out when you should plant your garden.
We plant potatoes on Easter weekend if we can and usually everything else after Mothers Day. Luckily I had my mom’s help for figuring this out. If you don’t know ask any gardeners or a local gardeners club in your area. They may big help to you all season with questions that may arise!
You are now on your way to become a master gardener! Remember Rome wasn’t built in a day, and I am sure they had their struggles. Give it some time and people will be asking you for advice!