story by Rebecca Giese
One of my favorite things about spring is the blooms and how everything feels alive after several gray frosty months. Now is the time to plan and prepare for that colorful cutting garden or bountiful berry patch. I love reaping the reward of having a garden whether that means sweet cherry tomatoes on a tossed salad or a bright bouquet of cutting flora. But preparation and planning are critical to have a plentiful garden. With just a little preparation your garden could be the envy of the neighborhood.
No matter the size of your garden, whether it is a couple of pots on a balcony or an acre, you need to take time to observe the sunlight on the plot. Do you have direct sun, partial sun, morning or afternoon? Check by following the plotted space at different times of the day and take note of any partial shade or any notable difference in lighting. Different plants have varying sunlight requirements so make sure the planned location’s lightening correlates with those requirements. Also before planting, review the hydration needs and take note of any special watering necessary for proper growth and survival.
One of the biggest things overlooked when planning out a garden space is the soil itself. Different plants have different mineral and pH requirements to flourish. To make sure you give your plants the best chance of success you need to test your soil and get an understanding of its make up. And this isn’t as big of a project that you may think, and you do not need a degree in agricultural science or chemistry to figure it out. All you need is to take samples from every plot then send them to be tested.
One of the best places to send your soil for testing is right here in South Carolina at Clemson University. Head to Clemson.edu to purchase a Soil Sampler Mailer for $15. This comes with sample bags, information and all the instructions you need to simplify the soil testing process. You can also submit your soil sample through your county extension. Once tested, you will get a report of the minerals in the soil, and what is lacking. From here you can adjust your soil with amendments like lime or fertilizer blends before you start the planting process.
If you are interested in learning more about gardening, I would suggest heading to your local library or bookstore. My favorite gardening book right now is Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden by Erin Benzakein. Most of my garden education has come from books, Google and by killing a lot of plants. You don’t have to be an expert to have a garden, but planning and preparing will definitely fool your neighbors into thinking you are.
Sample kit was purchased at a local hardware store and does not represent Clemson Soil Sample Kit*
What’s on My Radar?
- Celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day on March 15th and The Lucky Shamrock Festival in downtown Florence!
- More lunching at The Midnight Rooster in Hartsville, my favorite is the Wayfare Cobb salad, heading into Hartsville on a Saturday for some shopping and strolling? Try their brunch menu.
- Skirmish At Gamble’s Hotel Civil War Reenactment March 9th -10th in Florence at The Columns. This annual event has been on my calendar since moving here. I can’t wait to see this Florence tradition!
Currently residing in Hartsville, Rebecca Giese enjoys exploring the Pee Dee area, shopping local artisans, trying new restaurants, and finding inspiration from the history and culture surrounding her. When not out on an adventure, she’s telling stories on her blog, Southern’spirations.