After a long Winter, warmer and longer days of Spring are a welcome site! Make the most of the season, improve your health and help the environment by planting a garden.

Why Plant a Garden?

Why not? Planting a garden can enhance your home by increasing the green space and makes for a rewarding experience. With some effort, some water and the right weather, you can enjoy such benefits as flowers in bloom or vegetables and fruits to enjoy. Planting, from an in-ground garden to containers on the balcony, provides serious environmental benefits.

Through photosynthesis, plants recycle carbon dioxide and expel oxygen and water. Plants also remove chemicals and bacteria which may be floating in the air. Below the ground there is also some magic going on. A plant’s roots take in moisture in the surrounding soil including heavy metals and chemicals in the soil and groundwater. A poorly growing plant can indicate to a gardener a problem with the soil. Roots will also help bind the soil which prevents erosion. Topsoils are most likely to be affected by water movement and contain organic debris such as leaf litter which will break down to add nutrients into the soil.

Planting a vegetable or fruit garden will help reduce your carbon footprint. Growing your own food means less trips to the store. Further, much of the produce purchased at the supermarket has traveled from where it’s grown to arrive at the store. You will also save on time and money by growing your own produce.

Plantings also support beneficial insects and birds. Pollinators, such as bees, need all of the help that they can get and flowering plants provide just what the doctor ordered. Your garden will also provide them with protection from predatory insects and weather. Plantings also provide them with space to complete their life cycles. Birds will help to keep unwanted insects away. These airborne beneficiaries are not only nice to look at, but they are also an integral part of the environment, spreading vegetative seeds.

Starting and maintaining a garden will be aesthetically pleasing, relaxing, providing produce while also reducing your carbon footprint. Are you ready to get started? Read on!

Let’s Get Started Planting Your Garden!

First, choose what you’re going to be growing. A flower garden is always pretty. If you are planning on planting a vegetable garden, choose vegetables to grow which you and your family are going to enjoy. Also, be sure to choose plants which are going to grow in your area. Hudson County is located in the USDA Hardiness Zone 6A.

Next, you need to choose a location for your garden. Ideally, vegetable and fruit plants need full sun with at least five hours of direct sunlight per day. Plants such as greens, herbs and root vegetables should have partial shade. Once you have that determined, make sure that you can access the garden. Also, find a spot where it’s away from children’s play areas, pet access and even animals such as rabbits.

Make a plan for the garden space including the size and whether it will be a raised garden bed or a sunken bed. Garden beds should be 3 to 4 feet across and around 10 feet long. Plants should be planted in rows or a grid pattern. You will want to minimize walkways while maximizing the size of plant space. Remember that certain plants, such as zucchini and other gourds spread as they grow. Most plants have suggestions on the amount of space that each plant will need. A smaller garden which is well-cared for can produce as much or more than a large, overgrown garden. Other plants such as cucumbers, beans, and tomatoes will grow along a fence or within cages.

What to do at the end of the season? One successful gardener uses a mixture of Fall leaves and lawn clippings placed in an even layer. Over the winter, these organic materials will breakdown and provide organic fertilizer to the soil below. Another helpful hint is to place coffee grinds and eggshells on top of the garden. When your garden is turned over to start the next season, these materials will continue to provide a golden soil for future plantings.

Purchase some garden tools such as a garden shovel, leaf rake, dirt rake and a small garden shovel. While you’re at the garden center, purchase some garden soil for your spot. Most garden crops flourish with soil with a pH around 7. If you’re going to plant in pots, look for ones which are equal to the size of the plant.

Some gardeners believe in putting down landscape fabric to help control the spread of weeds. Landscape fabric can be purchased at your local garden center and will be secured down with landscape staples. When planting, cut a hole in the landscape fabric for your plants to grow out of. Other gardeners choose to let the soil “breathe” in the open elements. An alternative method is to place grass clippings around your plants. The grass clippings will help control the growth of weeds while also providing fertilizer for the soil as they decompose.

Let’s get planting! Seeds should be planted 3 times as deep as the diameter of the seed, unless it states otherwise on the seed label. For pre-started plants, they should be planted the same depth of what they are in in the pot. The exception is tomatoes which should be planted deeper than that depth.

Nature will take its course in helping your garden flourish, but it also needs to be nurtured. It’s therapeutic! Remember to keep your plants well-watered, especially during hotter times when the sun’s rays are stronger. Stay on top of weeds when they are smaller, they will be easier to maintain. Your plants should also be fertilized and fed to allow them to flourish!

If you’re growing a vegetable garden, you should begin to see produce in July, depending on when you plant your garden. Given favorable weather conditions, your garden should produce a bounty until mid-October.

Congratulations, you’re a gardener! You just helped yourself and the environment.

   

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Hudson County COVID-19 Vaccination Drive-Thru site at the USS Juneau Memorial Center in Kearny.

   

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