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Jumpstart Your Garden

Use these tips from an expert horticulturist to ease into the growing season.

February 1, 2011

Garden center

Courtesy iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Before growing season officially begins, visit your local garden center to pick up discounted garden supplies and experiment with plant arrangements.

The onslaught of gardening catalogs arriving in the mail can be a welcome reprieve from dreary winter conditions, offering hope for the impending gardening seasons. But along with the promise of spring comes the inevitable amount of garden planting and maintenance chores. In just a few short weeks, growing season on your urban farm could be underway, speeding up the pace in your already busy life. To work more efficiently in the garden, keep in mind three early season shortcuts offered by Gary R. Bachman, horticulturist at Mississippi State University.

1. Learn how to play in the cold, the rain and even the snow.

Go to your favorite garden center even when the weather isn’t perfect. There will be fewer people and shorter lines, and the staff will have more time to answer questions. Check out plants as they arrive for spring planting, and place flowering plants in different arrangements to figure out what you like. Making regular visits to get your gardening supplies and check out the latest gardening products will help you prepare for the upcoming season and save you some money.

2. Buy your gardening items early.

Now is the ideal time to look for great deals in local garden centers and home improvement stores. The product orders for 2011 are already coming in, and any leftovers have to move. Look for end-of-season clearance sales. The best deals will be on potting mix and fertilizers.

3. Talk to neighborhood gardeners.

This is one of the best ways to make your gardening season a little easier. Find out how other gardeners have used plant combinations. If they use something you like, make a note of it and consider how it would work in your garden. Don’t worry about feeling like you are copying someone else’s design idea. Gardeners are some of the most generous people, always willing to share. Everyone has time-saving tips they use to make gardening more enjoyable.

Share your tips for preparing for the upcoming growing season on the UF forums. 

Give us your opinion on Jumpstart Your Garden.
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Having a blast with Eliot Coleman's "Four-Season Harvest" book. I recommend it to everyone. Although I don't have what most people would call a winter, this 'winter' (which I think was on a Thursday this year) I was able to keep about 45% of my garden beds in production. I picked my last tomatoes on December 3rd.

Cold frames, hot beds, row covers and heavy mulching with straw kept us producing well. My spring lettuce and spinach are already producing fresh salads daily, and my starts and transplant stock is getting ready.

And the commercial nurseries don't even have their stock out yet.
Bruce, Las Vegas, NV
Posted: 2/2/2012 8:35:42 AM
Can't wait!
Missy, Altoona, PA
Posted: 3/13/2011 10:23:22 AM
I can't find my coldframe outside in my backyard since it's covered by almost 3 feet of snow and need either snowshoes or a plow truck to create a path to it.According to the outdoor themometer, it's a steady 30 derees inside the coldframe and hopefully the hebs, lettuce and bok choy are still alive. However, the surprise of the week is the Garlic.Already the garlic is pushing through the soil on my window sill garden. Spring will come soon!
mary, Boston, MA
Posted: 2/5/2011 5:35:17 AM
Sound advice.
m, k, ID
Posted: 2/2/2011 10:30:57 PM

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