Spring Has Sprung, I Hope

Spring Has Sprung – I Hope!

By: Kim Kerr, Family Services Manager

About this time of year in Northeast Ohio, many of us start to get a little stir crazy.  I miss the sunshine and warmer temperatures, even with the mild winter.  So let’s get ready for spring!

My husband always says that once he starts getting the gardening catalogs, he can feel spring in the air.  Well, they have started arriving in our mailbox.  This year, I have a new excitement about gardening because I will be leading our partner families in our community garden.  Gardening brings me memories of spending time with my grandparents as a little girl.  They had a garden and Grandpa always loved my help snapping beans and shelling lima beans.  My grandma canned everything from green beans to homemade relish. If you’re ready for warmer weather too, let’s start planning our gardens.

There is a lot of discussion about whether the traditional garden or raised beds are better.  For me the decision has already been made; our community garden has raised beds.  We have a traditional garden at my home but I am anxious to use the raised beds since I believe it will be easier to plant and pick.

The first thing to consider is what to plant.  The rule of thumb I have seen is “if you won’t eat it, don’t grow it”. Other advice is, “be careful not to plant too many crops”.  There are also plants that do well being planted together.  Some flowers are a good companion to the vegetable plants and some flowers attract beneficial insects.  Knowing what will grow in our climate is also important.  According to the experts, a well-planned garden is easier to care for and more productive.  Starting now gives you time to plan well and gives you the feeling spring is right around the corner.  Since we are a community garden, we need to have a meeting to make sure we are going to be growing what our members like to eat.

Once the plants have been chosen, we have to consider where to locate the plants.  There is a lot to consider.  According to some gardeners, vining plants should go on the edge.  Basil and tomatoes go together well.  Marigolds repel  nematodes, which are round worms only able to be seen with a microscope, and other garden pests.  Keep tomatoes away from corn and potatoes to avoid these crops sharing pests and disease.  Basil is also a good companion to peppers and can even improve their flavor.  Basil has many benefits because it helps repel aphids, spider mites, mosquitoes, and flies.  Beans and corn are good companions.  Beans need to be kept away from beets and onions since they will impede the growth of the beans.  My research also indicated that marigolds are good to keep planted by cucumbers.  Corn and squash also make good companions.  Knowing what plants will benefit others will help plan where to locate crops.  Also plan the garden on paper and make notes about what was added to the soil and when.  These notes will be important the following year as well.

Now the crops are chosen and the plan devised.  Let the planting begin!!  Not quite.  It is important to know what the date is of the last frost dates.  According to the Farmer’s almanac, our last frost date in Akron for 2020 is May 2 with the first fall frost falling around October 15. Keep in mind that this is only 30% accurate. I have always heard in our area, it is safest to wait until Memorial Day.  Also important,  read the directions on the seed packages to be sure to space the plants correctly.

Well, I think the planning will help with my anticipation of spring as well as help me lead our community to a successful gardening season.  I can’t wait to get started.