By Michele Nowak-Sharkey, Master Gardener of Mariposa County
In the winter months, more time is spent inside than outside when it comes to the garden. Although there are still things do such as pruning and mulching, the dreaming part of gardening is reserved for the colder, precipitation-filled days of the year.
However, before being swayed to purchase dozens of seed varieties by the photos of cauliflower bigger than a 4-year old’s head or tomatoes that only Photoshop could make look so perfect, take a mind’s eye stroll through last year’s garden. Read your scribbled notes about plant failures or scroll through photos of your garden harvest. Refreshed in memory with the information learned from last year, you can view those veggie beauty pageant contestants with open eyes about what might be successful plants for your garden this year.
Treat Your Seed Catalogs Like a Book
Chances are you will order from more than one seed company. The first step is to read your seed catalog like a book. Lots of valuable information is there under those glossy photos such as heat tolerance, disease resistance, planting zone, fruit color, fruit & plant size, taste, days to maturity and length of harvest.
How many seeds are in the packet? Sometimes more seeds in a packet can mean more waste if your plot is small and you want to have a diversity of veggies in your garden.
Compare companies to get the varieties that fit your taste palette, usage, and the growing habits of your location, at a cost that won’t be too painful if all the plants do not thrive.
Work With What You’ve Got
Is your garden small or is your time limited? Choose vegetables that you really love, or ones that are best when super fresh or too pricey to purchase at the market.
For the more experienced gardener, it might be fun to pick one or two plants you have never grown or maybe even tasted. This year might be the one to try growing kohlrabi or bok choy!
If starting your garden from seed seems too much for this year, remember that local nurseries have starter plants. The cost will be a bit more than starting with seeds and the variety will be limited. Either way, if your goal is to thrill at watching a garden grow or hear the crack of the carrot as you chomp down, then start your spring garden daydreams today!
Remember the Master Gardeners of Mariposa are here to support you. Coming soon, details about our Spring Plant sale in April!
About UC Master Gardeners of Mariposa County
UC Master Gardeners of Mariposa County are located at 5009 Fairgrounds Road, Mariposa. For more gardening and event information, visit their website or Facebook page (UC Master Gardeners of Mariposa County).
UC Master Gardeners staff a helpline serving Mariposa County, including Greeley Hill, Coulterville, and Lake Don Pedro. Please contact them at 209-966-7078 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Listen to them on the radio at KRYZ 98.5 FM on Wednesdays at 2 p.m and Saturdays at 5 p.m.
Check out this short video on how to prepare your soil for spring gardening!