I am spending the Winter planning out my growing space, binging on podcasts, setting goals for this year and am also on day 23 of 75 hard! For me, this time of year is really introspective. I find myself saving space for creative thinking, brainstorming and planning. It is a time of year that my body and mind needs desperately. A time to reset.
When I was growing up, we lived on property in southern Oregon and always had an incredible garden. My family grew veggies, herbs and flowers. I remember my mom picking flowers from her garden to give as a gift or take with us to someone we were going to visit. That memory holds a special place in my heart, because it was then that I realized the sweet, simple joy that flowers bring to our connection with other people. After college, when working for a local non-profit I took over the garden program. This process of cleaning up the neglected garden and working in the dirt rekindled my love of gardening. Growing things, whether it is flowers, fruit, veggies, or herbs, really has a way of connecting us to the earth. By the time I began my journey with Beauty Grows Wild, I was already so in love with growing that everything I learned fueled that passion that already existed in me. I felt like I was in school all over again. I read every single flower and garden related book I could get my hands on. I poured over flower farming blogs. I taught myself an entirely new career and I couldn’t get enough of it.
Through the process of running a garden for the non-profit I was working for at the time and starting up Beauty Grows Wild, I learned so much. I learned about starting a garden, soil health, prepping new growing spaces, which varieties work best where I live, when to start and how to transplant seeds. I would love to be able to share more of that knowledge with you!
Where we live, January is a great time to start making garden plans. If you want to start plants from seeds, it is important to give yourself ample time to do so. Prepping new growing areas takes time as well. I have put together a few steps that I hope will help you to take the daunting task of getting started, and break it down to something you can wrap your mind around. Most importantly, don’t let the abundance of information out there keep you from getting started! Whether you have some pots on your patio you would like to start growing in or a large garden space, these steps will help you to make a game plan.
#1: KNOW YOUR FROST DATES
Here in southern Oregon, we usually have our last frost date in early May and our first frost in early/mid October. If you are not in this area, you can look up your average frost dates here: https://www.farmersalmanac.com/average-frost-dates.
The reason this is so important is because some plants can withstand the frost and others can’t. If you plant your heat loving veggies and herbs (tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, etc.) or tender annual flowers (celosia, zinnias, cosmos, etc.) too early they will freeze. If you plant things too late into the Summer, they won’t have enough time to fully mature before being hit by that Autumn frost.
#2: MAP OUT YOUR GROWING SPACE
You might have a huge garden, or just want to plant some pretty flowers and vegetables on your patio, either way, knowing the space available is important. You can use a piece of paper, tape measure and pencil to create a rough sketch. This does not have to be exact, but it is essential that you have some idea.
#3: PREP YOUR SOIL
This is SO important! If you are starting a new area, you can sheet mulch to get rid of what is growing currently and amend the soil in one step. If you want to learn the process of doing this, here is a link: https://modernfarmer.com/2016/05/sheet-mulching/. It is not complicated, and the results are fantastic! If you already have a growing space that you have used, you will want to add compost to it in order to amend the soil. Southern Oregon Nursery has soil tests available which are a great tool for getting to know exactly what your soil needs.
#3: CHOOSE YOUR PLANTS AND/OR SEEDS
Do you want to start from seed or plant starts? If you want to start from seeds, you can look at online catalogs to see what is available and place an order. The Seed Savers Exchange, Johnny Seed, and Floret are a few of my favorites, but there are tons of options! Locally, there are lots of amazing places to get plant starts. My favorites are Southern Oregon Nursery and the Grange Co-Op.
#4 GET GROWING!
Whether starting seeds or starting with plants, you can use those frost dates to determine when you should get started and when to put things in the ground!
The beauty of this whole process, is that it is fun, it isn’t an exact science, you can learn as you go! Gardening is so good for the mind and body. Getting fresh air, sunshine, growing things to share with your friends and family, there is so much good that comes from it.
I hope this inspires you to get started!
Don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.