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  • erinlester4

Thinking Spring

About this time, every year, I start getting antsy for spring, thinking about my garden, what I want to plant, and how I am going to plant it. Yes. I know. I live in Minnesota. It will be another three months before I can get some seeds in the ground. I can't help myself though! Once I see a glimmer of hope that the snow will soon be melting, I get itchy to start getting my hands in the soil!

I have 12 garden boxes that were a gift from my family for Mother's Day a few years ago. For some reason, I enjoy gardening much more in boxes. It doesn't seem as overwhelming. I can go out and plant one box or weed one box and it doesn't feel like I am leaving a job half done.

My mom and my grandmother both had huge gardens. I think about them so often when I am out in my own garden.

My garden boxes are 2' by 6' and, although they are currently covered in a layer of snow, I plan ahead on paper so, when spring finally does make its way to Minnesota, I can get plants in the ground efficiently. I use square foot gardening to get the most out of my space. When I started gardening, I just had a few pots on my deck so I have been square foot gardening for many years. Now I just do it on a larger scale.

There are a ton of websites that can help you plan your square foot garden. I still like to go with the old fashion paper and pencil route because I can modify it throughout the season as certain plants will need replanting and other might end up being more prolific than I first thought. I like this website's guide. I printed this a few years ago, and like most of my garden papers, you can tell it has been well loved.

I also like to know which plants do well next to each other so, while I'm planning it out, I also keep this guide handy so that I don't put plants next to each other that might hurt their neighbors. For example, did you know that onions can stunt the growth of beans or that a caterpillar called the Corn Earworm (gross) can also feed on your tomatoes?

I don't generally go through enough seeds that I need to purchase new every year. I reuse a few years in a row. Generally, I will have decreased germination as the seeds age, but I just plant them a little thicker. Sometimes this gets me into trouble though as I am terrible at

thinning my plants. I feel so guilty plucking them out. The little buggers made it that far, don't they deserve a chance? Does anyone else put way too much thought into thinning plants?

Once I have my list of plants, I look through my seeds to see which I have on hand and which I need to order. There are specific varieties of plants that are favorites. Annabelle loves chocolate cherry tomatoes and candy cane peppers and I have a list of flowers that I would like to get so I am ordering from two places this year to get everything on my list.

Gurney's sent a catalog and, if I order before March 28th, using code 05747374, I got $50 off my order of $100. (Feel free to try the code!) I was able to order both of Annabelle's favorites as well as a few flowers that she added to the list. That girl loves her flowers!

I also decided to try Renee's Garden as well. I was drawn to their website because they personally select each seed and grow them in their test garden. For each variety, they have a multitude of photos, taken from the test garden, so that you can see what the plants will look like.

In addition to our vegetable garden, pumpkin garden, and perennial garden, this year we will be adding an area of wildflowers and an area for cutting flowers, each of which should benefit our beehives. At Renee's Garden, they have categories that you can search under. For flowers, I clicked on the little bee icon and I was able to find a whole list of flowers that are most beneficial to bees.

We are adding a second hive this year, so the more flowers we have to benefit our bees, the better. If you want to see the list for yourself, click on the little bee and the link will bring you right to the list. There is even a Beekeeper's Mix that contains a variety of flowers to feed your bees throughout the season. More flowers equal more honey!

I definitely don't have a green thumb, but despite that, I have been able to get some nice harvests out of my garden. There is something to be said about planting your own food and being able to feed your family a meal from your own land. Having a garden definitely helps get the kids to eat better too! I still smile when I think about Isaac mowing the lawn and hopping off the lawn mower to grab a handful of snacks every time he gets close to the garden. Kids ruined their dinner on snap peas and cherry tomatoes? Who can be mad about that?

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