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  • Writer's pictureSteven Hansen

Gardeners: Lettuce Be Joyful and Plant!

Spring is here! It’s time to stop dreaming and start planning your garden, whether it’s a window box, a raised bed, a neighborhood garden plot, or the back forty.

Flower beds overflowing with color and peaceful meditation gardens can be a joy to plan and nurture. Vegetable gardening feeds our palates and keeps us active outdoors. In fact, it has been proven that of all types of gardens that we plant and tend, growing vegetables makes us feel the happiest.

So let’s get started!

When to plant?

Believe it or not, it’s already time to plant carrots and dill in New York City. Enter your zip code into the Old Farmer’s Almanac 2022 Planting Calendar to find out the best times to start vegetable seeds indoors or plant seeds and or seedlings outdoors.

Ranges are given for typical frost-free dates as well as dates for planting by the most optimal moon phases.

The Almanac folks also publish two indispensable gardening guides: “Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook” and “Flower Gardener’s Handbook.”

Small Footprint Gardens

When growing space is limited, Mel Bartholomew’s Square Foot Gardening technique is the perfect solution. The gridded planting boxes are simple to build and provide the most efficient gardening approach.

Square Foot Gardens are weed-free, use less water, and requite no digging or rototilling. Your back will thank you!

Do You Garden Well with Others?

Part of the fun of planting and tending a plot in a community garden is getting to meet and spend time with other people who share your interests in making things grow. In addition to the benefits of socializing, you also get to trade gardening tips (mistakes and successes!) with others, not to mention sharing extra seeds, transplants, and vegetables!

Use this locater map from the American Community Gardening Association to find a community garden nearest you.

Want to Start a Community Garden in Your Neighborhood?

Check out Ben Barkan’s excellent WikiHow that outlines the basic steps you’ll need to know to create a new community garden. Ben is founder of HomeHarvest LLC, an edible landscapes design and construction company in Boston.

Wacky New Vegetables

If you’re bored with growing the same old veggies every year, it’s time to get crazy! Gardening Channel invites you to try these funky new hybrid vegetable innovations. No scary GMO mutants, these new types were created through good ol’ crossbreeding. Cucamelons anyone? Rabbage?

Windowsill Gardening

If you‘re an apartment dweller and a window is your only connection with the great outdoors, you can still plant a garden. One of the best info sources to help you get started is Rural Sprout’s rundown on what you’ll need to set up and plant a windowsill garden by Tracey Besemer. She describes 17 different herbs, vegetables, and edible flowers that are easiest to grow in limited window spaces.

Heirloom Seeds

Johnny’s Seeds out of Fairfield, Maine, offers the best selection of organic and heirloom vegetable and flower seeds. The 50-year-old, employee-owned company, sells 125 varieties of tomato seeds alone (“Lemon Boy,” SuperSweet 100,” “Black Cherry,” etc., etc.!) and 58 types of corn – sweet, seed corn, popcorn corn, and ornamental corn. Not to mention other veggie finds like cardoon, microgreens and scorzonera, among the cornucopia of old favorites -- cucumbers, melons, squash, beets, cabbages, and kohlrabi galore.

Johnny’s also has the best selection of sunflowers in every conceivable color and those old-timey, gigantic zinnias that always win ribbons at the state fair.

Gather Some Inspiration!

One of the best gardening sites out there is Jason Miles’s and @thehappygardeninglife on Instagram and Facebook. Based in Auburn, Washington, Jason’s sites are chock full of gardening information and inspiration! Our favorite sections are “Things You Should Do This Week” and “Monarch Butterfly Gardening Tips.”

Just hanging out on his Instagram page is like taking a beautiful mini-vacation!

Try These Harvest Recipes

Even if you’ve never grown so much as a radish, but instead rush the farmer’s markets in season, or are the grateful recipient of your gardening neighbor’s bountiful harvests, you need to check out the mouth-watering recipes shared by the folks at Springvale Community Garden in Penistone, Sheffield, England. Think chilli jam, pumpkin and apple chutney, carrot and coriander soup – tried and true family favorites.

These are UK metric recipes, so you’ll need to convert grams and litres and know the alternate names for courgettes, and aubergines, but that’s what Google’s for.

VIDEO EXTRA: Grandma Gina makes Eggplant Parmigiana

(Warning: you may become addicted to watching Grandma Gina’s videos.)

Photos: (from top);;; Denver Urban Gardens,;; Wikimedia Commons;;;

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