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  • Writer's pictureSandy Eplett

So You Want a Garden...

Are you itching to get your hands dirty and transform your outdoor space into a green paradise this summer?



Here's how to kickstart your garden with confidence.


Choose Your Spot


Finding the perfect spot for your garden is crucial for its success. Here’s how to nail it:


  • Sunlight Selection: Aim for a location that receives 6-8 hours of sunlight daily, preferably in the morning and early afternoon. South-facing spots often get optimal sunlight throughout the day, ensuring your plants get the energy they need to thrive.


  • Consider Microclimates: Within your garden area, observe microclimates—areas that may be warmer or cooler due to proximity to walls, fences, or buildings. These microclimates can influence plant growth and can be utilized strategically for different crops.


  • Evaluate Drainage: Ensure your chosen spot has good drainage to prevent waterlogging, which can lead to root rot and other issues. If your soil doesn’t drain well naturally, raised beds can be a great solution to control moisture levels.


Pick Your Plants

Zone 7a offers a bounty of plant options that love its warm summers. Here’s a deeper look at some star performers:


  • Tomatoes: These garden favorites come in a dazzling array of varieties, from beefsteak to cherry tomatoes. Consider heirloom varieties for unique flavors or cherry tomatoes for snacking straight off the vine. But don't plant your entire garden in heirlooms....many are challenging to grow and many don't taste as good. With that said...I do love to intermingle them with the hybrids.


  • Peppers: From sweet bells to spicy jalapenos and even habaneros, peppers thrive in the heat of Zone 7a. They add color and flavor to your garden and culinary creations.


  • Zucchinis: Known for their prolific production, zucchinis are perfect for gardeners looking to enjoy fresh summer squash. Plant them in well-drained soil and watch them flourish with regular harvesting.


  • Herbs: Basil, oregano, thyme, and mint are must-haves for any herb garden. They thrive in the warmth of summer and can be used fresh in cooking or preserved for later use.


Prepare Your Soil


Healthy soil is the secret sauce for a thriving garden. Here’s how to get your soil in tip-top shape:


  • Test Your Soil: Before planting, test your soil pH and fertility levels. Most vegetables prefer a slightly acidic soil pH (around 6.0-7.0) and nutrient-rich conditions.


  • Amend with Compost: Mix in compost to improve soil structure, fertility, and moisture retention. Compost adds essential nutrients and beneficial microorganisms that support plant growth throughout the season. I use a mushroom compost along with worm castings. My plants are gangbusters! Just look at this corn!!




  • Consider Raised Beds: If your soil is poor or compacted, consider building raised beds and filling them with a mixture of garden soil and compost. Raised beds provide better drainage, warmer soil temperatures, and easier access for planting and maintenance. Raised beds can be a game changer. If you don't like bending over, then create them with legs up off the ground.





Planting Techniques


Planting your garden properly sets the stage for healthy growth and abundant harvests:


  • Spacing and Depth: Follow planting instructions on seed packets or plant labels for correct spacing and planting depth. Proper spacing allows plants to access nutrients and sunlight without competing with each other.


  • Mulch: After planting, apply a layer of organic mulch like straw or shredded leaves around plants to conserve moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature. Mulch also breaks down over time, enriching the soil with organic matter.


  • Watering: Water newly planted seeds and transplants gently but deeply to encourage root establishment. Consider using a drip irrigation system or soaker hoses to deliver water directly to the root zone and minimize water waste through evaporation.


You're all set! Now go out there and start!


And if you really want to learn more consider coming to our HOMESTEAD FESTIVAL this July 12-13!



Happy planting! 🌱


Stay WILD & Homesteady,


Sandy

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