HOW MANY OF YOU remember that childhood game? Okay, maybe I am dating myself, but I remember playing and taking steps forward and back, hopping like a kangaroo and laughing! Well, May is the perfect time to play that game with the mother of us all—in the garden. Here is a list of questions to ask “Mother Nature” that will get you to the head of the line.
“Mother, may I plant a vegetable garden?” Yes, indeed! Find a spot with lots of sun and box it off with two 1x6x6 and two 1x6x4 pieces of lumber. You now have a 6×4 bed to fill with garden soil and hopefully some of your compost mix. Plant your favorite veggies in rows—try carrots, kale, peppers, and tomatoes—whichever you like. For squash, cucumbers or beans you may need a trellis or two. They will do great with something to climb. It’s still early enough to use seeds, but quicker with seedlings. Plants or seeds should be spaced appropriately. Directions for spacing and height always come on the packet or name card. Be sure to follow these for best results. Tomatoes will need a stake or wire barrel to support their branches as they bear fruit. Soil should be kept moist, but not drenched, especially if you start with seeds. If you have a morning sun spot, try some lettuce in a pot. You will be amazed at how fast you will have fresh greens every day. Leaves should be harvested when they are four to five inches tall and from the outside in. Mix in some marigolds or chrysanthemums to help with insect control. Flowering plants also help attract bees to the garden, which is a good thing for helping with pollination.
“Mother, may I plant an herb garden?” Yes, indeed! You will need a very sunny spot with well drained soil. You can even grow your herbs in pots. Rosemary loves sun and dry conditions and will become quite a bush when happy. Parsley and basil like a little more water and do nicely when grouped together. Cut these daily and don’t let flowers appear or you will lose the leaves you love to eat. Sage and thyme also are good partners. Don’t forget to add some annual flowers to these pots for a little burst of color.
Now you are part of the way there—the rest is up to you! You can find great information about planting vegetables at the LSU Ag Center website. Go to lsuagcenter.com and look for the Louisiana vegetable planting guide. “Mother” will be proud of your efforts and you will be amazed how fresh produce will enhance your meals at home! Yes, you may take the steps to enjoying your homemade farm!
Email your gardening questions and comments to Lisa at firstname.lastname@example.org.