Spring is here!! Or is it?

April 19, 2022

Not really.

It seems like every season comes earlier and earlier every year. Last July I went into a store and noticed they were getting their shelves ready for Halloween and even Christmas. It seems as if everyone is so worried about the different holidays that are coming up and how early they can get a start on it. In August I started receiving mail requests for Christmas donations from different organizations. They even send you a small package of Christmas cards and a new calendar for the upcoming year, while asking you for a donation for them. With the amount of things I receive in the mail from different organizations while asking for money, I don’t understand how they expect to get ahead with the donations they receive. When November arrived, I started receive garden magazines and seed catalogs for the following summer planting season. I live in an area where it is cold until the end of May, and you cannot plant anything before Memorial Day if you want it to survive the summer.

I do enjoy gardening and growing my own vegetables. There is nothing like going to the garden and picking a fresh tomato for breakfast. Store bought vegetable cannot compare in taste to the fresh ones from your own garden. With the so called climate change or global warming gardening has become less rewarding and more work. Some of the problems I’ve tried to overcome the past couple of years are undoubtedly the heat and the rain. The weather has been so strange and unpredictable it has been very difficult to get any good vegetables from the garden. It is hard to figure out if the garden needs water or if it needs sun. If the meteorology report predicts sun for the following day you get up and water the garden the first thing in the morning, only to find out that later that day that rain is on its way. With that said, it would rain for days or even weeks and drown your garden. If you have fruit on the vine, the rain will destroy most of it. It could also be the other way around as well. The weatherman can be predicting rain everyday therefore you probably wouldn’t get up and water your garden only to have the sun and heat burn it up. I have been gardening for years but have never experienced this kind of weather in my area.

There are some things you can do to alleviate some of the problems experienced by this strange weather. Of course there are other things to consider that also present problems growing your own food and flowers. One of these is the animal population that has risen over the past ten to twenty years in the suburbs. The deer population in my area has grown out of control. Deer will eat any vegetation they can get. They can completely eliminate your entire garden in just one night. The way to control this is to build a large fence around your garden. Since deer can easily jump over a four foot fence, you need to build it about, six feet high. They also love flowers, so you must also find a way to prevent them from eating them. There is always the weed problem you must take care of when gardening. I thought I had this problem resolved a couple of years ago. After tilling all of the soil and fertilizing it, I covered it with a weed control fabric. That didn’t work out as well the past couple of years though due to the rain. When it rained for a solid week and the sun would come out hot as well, the weeds got so bad they grew right up through the weed control fabric, and the weeds were so thick they were impossible to control. It was as if I was growing weeds and the vegetables were becoming just a side crop, what was left of them. Other problems that we had over just the past few years, has been stink bugs. They bore into any and every fruit and vegetable they can find. Stink bugs are impossible to control. The only way to eliminate them is by putting them in a jar full of water and dawn soap. Even if you spray your crops with water and dawn soap they will still land on them and ruin them. Once spring arrives, so do the stink bugs. They come by the thousands and are everywhere. It’s bad enough for them to be outside, but they also find their way into the house. They can enter the house through the smallest hole or cracks around the doors and windows. It is not unusual to open a window and find hundreds of them between the screen and the glass. Stink bugs are disgusting and destructive. They emit a terrible smell and a brown staining liquid that you will see on your walls and lampshades, or where ever they decide to land. If you get this smell on your hands or clothes it is hard to get off. You can wash your hands over and over before the smell actually leaves. They sell Stink Bug traps in the hardware stores and the big box do it yourself stores, but I have had very little success with them.

Some things you might consider when planning your garden is are you going to buy seedlings to plant, or are you going to try and grow your plants from seeds. Either ways you might want to consider purchasing a portable green house. You can find these on line and they are not very expensive. They work well if you put it in your garage in early spring, and also when put in the yard after the last hard freeze. They come in all sizes from very small to as large as you may want. Some other items you might want to consider are good garden tools and gloves. If you are growing tomatoes, you might want to get some tomato steaks or cages. These help protect the plants and support the actual fruit. If you have problems getting down on your knees to work in the garden, you can buy garden stools and pads to kneel on. I found that keeping an old piece of carpet will work as well, in fact if you put it down to kneel on when the ground is wet, it will protect you from getting wet as well. Later you can hang it on a fence or something to dry out and use again. It will also add a little softness while kneeling. You may also consider using products like Miracle Grow to give your plants a boost every so often. Hydrogen peroxide is also a good thing to have around, especially if you are growing peppers. There are several topics on line that can explain the use of this in a garden.

If you don’t have much room to plant a garden in the yard, you can grow a garden on your porch or patio. You can purchase garden boxes that not only grow your plants fast, but also produce excellent vegetables. I have used them in the past, and have found them to be great. If you are not familiar with these, they are plastic boxes about three to four feet long and about a little more than a foot wide, and about a foot high. The bottom of the boxes, have a raised edge, where you place a grate like plastic panel. You put your dirt on this and plant your vegetables. Water remains under the panel and keeps the plants growing even if you can’t water every day. I also provides drainage if you get more rain than expected.

If you haven’t started to receive your gardening and seed catalogs yet, I am sure they will be on their way soon. Good luck with your gardening