Gardening: Spring praises

By Sarah O'Neil

Growing food is a slow process, not one that need be rushed, and there is order in the process.
Growing food is a slow process, not one that need be rushed, and there is order in the process.

As the days lengthen and become warmer we hanker to scratch about in the dirt and grow something. For many, this urge doesn't last long and is easily shrugged off as a moment of madness. But for others it is the beginning of a journey that will last the entire season and beyond.

It isn't an easy journey, often fraught with hard labour and disappointment, but the keen gardener can see the end goal and will push on regardless in the quest for the most incredible tasting fresh food imaginable. Spring is here and the air is filled with hope and promise.

Growing food is a slow process, not one that need be rushed, and there is order in the process. The spring desire often comes with a sense of urgency, the "I want it all now" approach that is often applied to modern-day life.

Nature has a different timetable to get to the end result and in order for the keen gardener to have success they need to shift their mindset to a more unhurried pace.

The garden may need clearing of weeds and the soil may need digging over to incorporate compost, well-rotted manures and other rich organic materials, but Rome wasn't built in a day and the garden doesn't need to be either.

Slow and steady and bit by bit, a wonderful bed for growing your food can emerge at a rate that won't break your back .

Many worms will mean you have good soil to begin with. Noticing the types of weeds you have and how they grow will help to keep them at bay easily during the growing season.

Allowing the garden bed time to recover from the digging before planting will help improve the soil structure and microbial communities that assist the plants, will result in a healthier garden long-term. Time spent tending the soil is a key to a successful harvest in months to come.

It is also quite tempting to race off and sow all the seeds for every plant that will go into the garden and also to populate all the gardens in the immediate vicinity.

While seeds will easily germinate and flourish on a warm windowsill or sunny greenhouse, plants have a personal preference as to when they like to grow and the conditions in the garden that allow them to thrive.

Taking the time to plan the garden and understand the plants you want to grow - not only when is the best time to start them in your garden, but also how they like to grow, how much space they need and how tall they will get - will ensure your garden sets off on the right foot.

Most vegetables like to be planted out after the risk of frost has past, which is usually around Labour Weekend at the end of October.

However, this isn't the only weekend to get it done and there is generally a window of a couple of months.

Keep a keen eye on the weather as a cold spring or a rogue frost can cause great harm to a new garden.

Spring is also the perfect time to think about one of the most important things your garden will need throughout the growing season - water!

Without adequate watering the garden will struggle in the heat of the summer sun.

However, for many urban gardeners water from the tap comes at a cost and this can become a drain financially.

With a bit of preparation now, devising ways to capture spring showers and the almost guaranteed holiday downpours will ensure gardening remains fun.

Whether you are a long-term gardener or a beginner responding to those spring urges, the garden will bring you great rewards.

Gardening can make you feel good. Your general wellbeing and outlook on life can be lifted just by being in a garden.

So this spring, if you feel a stirring deep in your soul, calling you to the soil, it maybe be just the thing you need as a respite from the hustle and bustle of our fast paced modern world and at the end of it all you get amazing tasting produce.

Sarah O'Neil is an author, blogger and passionate gardener writing about the trials and tribulations of growing food for her family. Her books The Good Life and Play in the Garden are available at all good bookstores.

sarahthegardener.co.nz

- NZ Herald

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