May 9, 2011
There’s still a chill in the air, but it’s safe to say winter has finally bid farewell to New York City. Now that it seems spring is really here to stay, it’s time to start thinking about planting our garden. Through trial and error, we’ve learned what thrives. Lettuce, arugula, snow peas, and a variety of herbs grow with ease. After talking with a professional gardener last year, I realized the tomatoes fate was not so much my lack of skill, but had more to do with the amount of full sun exposure our yard gets (or lacks, perhaps). She suggested we try cherry or grape tomatoes instead of meaty beefsteaks.
Gardening with kids adds an extra element of balance. As it may now be clear, gardening does not come as easy to me as cooking, so this isn’t exactly my comfort zone. Unlike the kitchen where things come instinctively, the yard takes a bit more effort and focus. Of course the kids just want to dig dirt, and I’ve finally come to accept it isn’t such a bad thing—as long as they stay away from my vegetables, flowers and herbs. A few years back I figured the best way to keep peace in the garden was to give them their own section, complete with plants and kid-sized gardening gloves and tools so they can toil away in their own soil.Planning a garden this year? Read these tips before you get started.
The Main Ingredient for any garden is sunshine. Know what kind of exposure you have and for how long before buying plants or seeds. Some plants, like beefsteak tomatoes need a good 8 hours of full sun to properly grow. Less sun will result in disappointing results and wasted time and money.
Get to know your soil. Not all dirt is created equal, so it’s worth investing in an at-home test kit to find out the pH levels to determine if your soil needs any prep work and special nutrients before planting. If you have any concerns about the safety of your soil, most communities have an extension center, like the Cornell Cooperative Extension, that will test samples to make sure your soil is safe for planting fruits and vegetables to later eat.
No yard, no worries. Outdoor space isn’t always available, but don’t let that stop you from teaching the kids about where their food comes from. Container gardening is perfect for windowsills, and lets you enjoy fresh cut herbs year-round. Depending on the depth of your window’s ledge and the amount of sun you get, you can even grow lettuce in containers.