Start your gardens

Published 10:01 pm Thursday, May 5, 2011

Herbs are great plants to start a garden.

Tips to start a veggie and herb garden

Now that spring has sprung, it’s a great time to be in the garden.

Any time in May is a good time to start planting. But instead of just planting flowers, bushes and shrubs, growing vegetables and herbs can land you a garden that gives back.

Veggie and herb gardens are a great alternative to buying them at local grocery stores or even at farmers’ markets.

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Growing your own vegetables not only provides you with fresh produce, but also it saves you money.

Often times, the price of a tomato plant is close to how much it cost to buy a few fresh tomatoes at the store. And if you’re lucky, that plant will produce a season’s worth of tomatoes.

Along with that luck, everyone who starts a veggie garden needs to consider the same factors. Gardeners must consider the right time to plant, soil conditions, weeding and watering, and making sure you properly feed and nurture the plants.

Gardener Stan Cope, who is president of Bonnie Plants, the largest producer of vegetable and herb plants in the United States, gave some tips to get your garden going.

The first step in starting your vegetable garden is to check the soil to find the perfect spot. The best soil is loam, which is dark, soft and crumbly. Loam is easy to dig, holds water and allows for drainage.

A good way to improve conditions in sandy soil or clay is to add peat moss and bone meal to increase garden productivity.

From there, you have to decide how big you want your garden to be. If you have the space, it’s important to make the garden big enough to produce a lot of plants. But if space is limited, vegetables and herbs can be grown in pots and containers on decks, patios, balconies, terraces and other locations.

Another thing to consider when choosing a location is to pick a spot where there is plenty of sun. Most plants need at least six hours of sun a day to make for a nice harvest.

Once you’re ready to get in the dirt, transplants, which have already started growing, can be a good time-saving measure because they will be ready for harvest sooner than plants that started from seeds.

As your garden grows, make sure to give the plants a thorough soaking once or twice a week. If it’s particularly hot outside, more water might be need. Allow the water to sink about five inches into the soil.

Vegetable and herb gardening can bring in fresh produce to use in cooking and to enjoy on their own, but it also offers an opportunity to get some stress out while spending time in the sunshine.