With the unseasonably warm weather we’ve been experiencing lately, you may be itching to put your green-thumb to work and get some yard work done. Bulbs are sprouting and daffodils are already blooming in flower gardens across the Eastern Shore. Before we know it, we’ll be planting seeds and harvesting home-grown vegetables, fruits, and herbs. Get a head start getting your veggie garden ready early!
- 2 – 10’ x 2” x 4” pieces of wood (pressure-treated wood holds up best in our salty sea air) ($5 each)
- 8 – 4” long galvanized screws (galvanized screws resist rusting in a high-moisture area like ours) ($.98/2 screws)
- 4 bags of 40 lb. top soil ($1.75 each)
- 1 bag of 40 lb. manure ($3 per bag)
- Power drill
|1. Using a saw, cut both 2” x 4” boards into pieces. You should have two 6’ boards and two 4’ boards. A circular saw works best for this. Other options include a hand saw or asking a sales clerk at any home improvement store if they could cut them for you at the store (usually they’ll do this for free). You may choose other dimensions, too, based on the space allotted for your garden.|
|2. Using a drill bit slightly smaller than your screws, drill a pilot hole into the corner of the two pieces of wood. Connect a 4’ board to a 6’ board. Be that the wood is lined up straight. Using the drill, screw two (spaced roughly 3” apart from one another) screws into the pilot holes. Repeat this step on all four corners.|
|3. Move the wooden box into position in your yard. Remember to keep in mind that the garden should be placed in a sunny spot. Flatten the land, remove any grass or plants from the area before setting up your garden. You may put thick gardening plastic with several drainage holes down first if you prefer. Luckily, many of our yards are sandy and flat and are perfect for just adding an above-ground garden.|
|4. Once in place, fill the bed with a planting mix of top soil, one bag of manure, and any random compost you may have at your home. If you make your garden now, the soil will have plenty of time to settle and your compost will break down further before you’re ready to plant seeds or young plants.|
|5. Mix the top soil, manure, and compost together. Make it smooth and moisten with a gentle spray from a hose or a shower from a watering can.|
6. You’re ready for planting! Seeds are typically cheaper in price when you purchase them before prime garden-preparation time. Right now, you can pick up seed packs at dollar-stores for 4 / $1. It's a great deal. Come prime gardening time, seed packets will be about $1 – $2.75 each. When the weather warms up enough for most plants to begin growing, use your fingers to make shallow holes in the soil and place one or two seeds in each hole. Cover the seeds with soil; be sure not to pack the soil.
|7. Once the plants mature you’ll be able to harvest! In late spring / early summer, you should have a few vegetables, lots of herbs, and flowers depending upon what you planted.|
|8. Once harvesting season is over, remove the crop, and dig out any roots or debris. You can turn your garden into a medium sized compost pile in the off-season. Come next planting season, just mix up your compost, add some more soil, and start planting again.|
- Place a thin, mesh gardening net over the garden (you might need to create stakes to support the mesh without squishing your plants) to keep pesky bugs, deer, and neighborhood animals from snacking on your plants.
- Add a watering apparatus. A simple design? Take a plastic 2-liter soda bottle, use a thin pin to poke many holes into the bottle, fill with water on a daily basis, and place in the center of your garden. A constant small flow of water will be delivered to your soil and your plants will be happy. Based on the size of your garden, add more bottles if needed.
- Run string horizontally and vertically across the garden box to create a grid; 12” squares seem to work best. Secure with a staple run, push pin, or screw. Designate each square to a different kind of seed. Mark each square with a garden marker so you know what you planted there. Come time for sprouts, each plant will be easily identifiable.