County Gardeners Extension Express
Planning Your Future Garden
Whether you are an experienced gardener, or plan to plant your first this year, ade-quate preparation is key. Today I am going to present steps you can take now for a successful future.
By creating a gardening plan before purchasing, you can set realistic goals and not overspend on unnecessary items. Begin by choosing the plants you want. For extra fun and challenge, consider new plants or plant varieties. For example, heirloom flower and vegetable varieties offer a unique assort-ment of colors and flavors. Do keep in mind this tends to be at the expense of pest and disease resistance. Another option is to integrate sustainable methods into your garden, such as the use of composting or chemical pesticide alternatives. Once you have an idea, determine the number of needed seed packets, and purchase your seeds. This guarantees even if there is a later shortage of a certain variety, you will still have the seeds you want. It also ensures you have sufficient time to start seeds before transplanting, if necessary. Seeds can be purchased through a garden center, a seed catalog, or online. Store seed display racks have reliable standard seeds but likely won’t have specialty varieties. Catalogs offer a wide arrange of seed varieties and allow the purchase of varieties that ripen at differing times. Planting this way spaces out your garden’s harvest over a longer period of time. Online seed sources have a wide selection and provide an indication of whether the seed is currently available. Online options will also have the most newly ob-tainable varieties.
Apart from the plants themselves, there are other essential gardening considerations. Purchase necessary potting mix and fertilizer to ensure an adequate supply at time of use. Now is also a good time to inspect tools for rust and clean as needed. You can prevent future rust by placing a light coat of mineral oil or used motor oil on tool heads. Make sure you have an ample number of working gloves (your hands will thank you later). Me-chanic gloves are best suited for when you need the holding power, while latex or nitrile coat-ed cotton gloves are helpful for when your hands will get wet. Begin recording this year’s gardening plans in a notebook or online, which will assist with making informed decisions in the following years.
No matter what your plans are for this year, the Extension Service is here to help. Search the Extension website, or contact your County’s Extension Agent, to find the advice you need. For more information on choosing what vegetable varieties to plant, see Extension Publication 3744, Variety Recommendations for Mississippi Vegetable Gardens.