Spring Gardening Tips

Growing Your Perfect Garden: Tips to get you started

As the weather warms, many of us get the itch to spend more time outdoors. So, we consulted our Grinnell Mutual Gardening Network Group to learn how to put that outdoor time to good use by creating a garden. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting out, these tips can help set you on the right path towards your own beautiful garden.

Tips for vegetable planting

  1. Till in the fall if possible. This helps any leftover vegetation decompose and put nutrients back into the soil and to spread the nutrients. Only till dry soil.
  2. Till again in the spring just before planting. Tilling in the spring helps loosen soil, control weeds, and mix in any organic matter that has accumulated, which will help plants establish a healthy root system. As in the fall, only till dry soil.
  3. Use fertilizer a month before planting. For regular vegetables use a 10-10-10 fertilizer. If you prefer to grow organic vegetables use manure or compost.
  4. Ensure the area is sunny and drains easily. We learned this in science class but can’t stress it enough: Water and sunshine make for a happy garden.
  5. Rotate where you plant each crop. Different plants leach different nutrients from the soil. Rotating the types of vegetables planted in each space helps keep your plants well-fed and ensures the nutrients in the soil aren’t overused.
  6. Buy seeds from a local greenhouse. You can customize the amount of seed you want depending on your garden size. Sometimes the seeds even come with a nutrient-dense coating to help your plant grow.

Tips for flower planting

  1. Plan out your garden in advance. A good garden takes time and consideration of the plants’ needs — more sunlight, drier soil, etc. Talk to your local greenhouse about what kind of care your new friends need.
  2. Plant annuals in mid- to late May. Frost is not your friend when it comes to annuals. Waiting until the latter part of May helps ensure your new plants aren’t zapped by the cold. A good rule of thumb is wait until Mother’s Day to plant.
  3. No need to rotate flowers. Unlike vegetables, flowers don’t need to be rotated seasonally as they all take similar nutrients from the ground. Instead replenish the soil with fertilizer or commercial plant food.
  4. Use plant food with the first watering. This helps boost your flowers’ chances of settling into their new home.
  5. For containers, half of the potting soil should be replaced every year before replanting. This replenishes your soil’s nutrients.
  6. Plant flowers that attract pollinators. A great choice is coneflowers, which attracts all types of pollinators — butterflies love them.

For more information, download helpful guides from Iowa State Extension and Outreach services, or from your own state’s public university extension services.

Yard and garden resources

Planting a home vegetable garden