Planting season preparations: A quick and sustainable guide

Despite some recent weather woes and a bit of lingering snow, planting season is approaching quickly in most areas of the Midwest. If you are an avid seasonal DIY gardener or just looking to get started, there are some tried and true steps to preparing your yard, gardening boxes, flower beds, pots and greenhouses.

To start, it's a great idea to clear away debris from the Fall and Winter. Take a few hours on a weekend, or hire a reputable lawn care service in your local area. If you have never planted before, check your soil type, consider drainage in the area you wish to plant, and perhaps even till any soil that has been compacted from construction or from not being used for planting in the past. If you are building raised boxes, consider the size and area you want to plant based upon the space needed by the types of vegetables or flowers you want to grow. For example, carrots will be okay near each other in separated rows, however, spaghetti squash needs a bit of room to grow. Plan out your building materials and a clear weather day for constructing your boxes and filling them with organic soils that you can purchase from your local home and garden store, or even from compost you have created yourself. At this time, also make a plan for any types of soil amendments you may need based on your soil type. There are great organic and natural varieties available online or at your local stores.

Decide whether you want to start plants from seeds or if you will visit a local greenhouse or nursery. If starting from seeds, take time to plan out the length of time needed for germination and where you will grow your starts. They will take a few weeks before they are ready to transplant into the ground. You can purchase biodegradable mini-pots made from a variety of unique materials that will break down in the soil as the plant grows and spreads its roots. This is a great option for plants like peppers and squash. Carrots on the other hand can simply be planted straight in the ground as seeds once appropriate weather and conditions allow. Again, read your seed packets for best suggestions.

Finally, don't forget to consider what you will cook when the plants have matured! It's very exciting when you're starting a garden to want to grow everything, but its a shame if your food goes to waste because you can't use it all. Grow only what you need, what you like, and what is best suited for your location to create sustainable and delicious meals all summer long!

Elizabeth Thompson