2019 Ohio Garden How-To

As soon as winter is over and spring is here I mow the garden area down as short as I possibly can. I do this before any grass seed pops up. You can imagine how frustrating gardening would be if we mixed grass seed into the soil. Heavens NO! We can't let that happen! There are plenty of weeds to fight without mixing grass seed into the soil.

After I mow the grass short, I then til the area with my tiller three times. I spread these tilling sessions out by several days. Between each till I will add supplements to the soil: aged manure, compost, rinsed crunched egg shells, coffee grounds, etc. Once this is all tilled in, I am ready to plant! In Ohio my goal is to get all of my plants in the ground by Mother's Day weekend.

After my area is tilled, I select the packets of seeds I want to plant. To prep bean and pea seeds for planting I soak them in water for 10-30 mins prior to planting. If you soak them an hour or two longer, I don't think it will hurt the seeds. This helps them sprout sooner rather than later.

I am a big fan of planting gourds: squash, pumpkins, zucchini, watermelon. These typically grow with minimal care and are more resistant to attacks by rabbits and other garden pests.

For the garden of 2019 we chose to plant next to our strawberry and asparagus patch the following:

  • tomatoes
  • bell peppers
  • herbs: basil, cilantro, oregano
  • yellow squash
  • pumpking
  • zucchini
  • watermelon
  • bush beans
  • sugar snap peas
  • a white egg plant (this is a new one for us)
  • corn
  • sunflowers

Because we plant a variety of crops, it is imperative that we mark where we plant the seeds. We write down using permanent marker on popsicle sticks what each plant is. This ensures that we not only water each planted seed, but that we don't accidentally pull a good plant thinking it is a weed. (we have done this far too many times!)

If you are gardening with kids, get ready for your kids to accidentally kill a few good plants. It's part of the learning. And it's OKAY. You can always plant another plant, or head to the home improvement store to grab a few extras to replace the dead one. Gardening with kids can be a bit messy, but it's more than worth it because of what the kids gain from the experience.

I do not however mark my gourds because they are EXTREMELY easy to spot. The picture on the left shows one sprouting. They have a distinct look and they grow VERY QUICKLY. Every garden should have at least a few of these! It's simply too easy to grow them! More pictures of their quick progress to come!

I use mulch from our local waste yard for my garden beds around the house. It's free. We head over to the waste yard, fill the back of our truck with mulch, drive it home, and then shovel the mulch out into the beds. Most cities have this luxury - if you will only look.

However, for our vegetable garden I generally use shredded white paper and newspaper to mulch our plants. The paper makes a great sunshade for the soil and keeps the moisture locked in. I don't have any other uses for the paper, so it's a small way we help the environment. Plus it saves us from making more trips out to get mulch, and obviously helps us conserve water.

We do not mulch the plants until they have sprouted and grown a few inches. Once they are easily "on their way up," we then mulch.

The picture on the right shows a new tomato plant we have mulched with shredded paper. We'll add a little more and the tomato plant will be happy, happy.