When Dr. Zach is not seeing patients, he is exploring botany and cultivating his own home garden. Here he gives us some tips to prep our gardens for spring so that we can grow healthy and healing foods and herbs in our own backyards.
Six steps to prep your garden for spring:
- Decide which plants you are interested in growing. Do you like to eat tomatoes? Do you often cook with fresh herbs? Take into consideration the amount of space that you have and what you will consume. Americans waste about 40% of food grown, and 1/3 of food is wasted globally. You can avoid contributing to this statistic by sharing your spoils with your neighbors, family and coworkers.
- Do your research. How much time do you have to spend on your garden? Take a look at how much maintenance and light each plant will require, and the climate and soil that will work best for your plants. Make sure your plants will be happy in the environment you provide for them! I suggest lower maintenance plants at first. Herbs, peppers and kale are all good beginner plants they are low maintenance and take up little space.
- Pick the spot. This can be in your yard or in pots if you don’t have a yard. Make sure your spot matches the needs of your plants to provide proper drainage, sunlight and soil. I personally use pots and beds because it is easier to control weeds and can move my plants into the garage if it is going to frost.
- Get the timing right. When you start planting is another strategic move—too early and you may lose it all to frost, too late and they will burn in the summer sun. It is a gamble though, and the earlier you plant, the earlier you can harvest. I tend to plant early in the season with a backup plan to move them in the garage if needed. I garden in pots, so it’s easy to bring them in to protect from late winter and early spring frosts.
- Give them proper nutrition to grow! I use a mix of organic topsoil, mushroom compost and cow manure compost. You can find these at Home Depot, Lowe’s, or a local nursery. I also use compost I make myself using extra organic food material and the poop and eggshells from my chickens at home. Starting your own compost is a great way to recycle food waste.
- Give your plants what all living things need. Plants and people aren’t so different. We need love and attention, water, high quality nutrition, sunshine and shelter from harmful things (e.g., weather, rodents, deer and insects for plants). Some people get in trouble in their gardening by doing too much. We are all brought into this world with most of what we need to grow and flourish. The hardest part for all of us, which applies to gardening, is to set up the optimal environment for growth, and then let go and watch it flourish!