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® ® ® ® Way to Grow! GARDENING I ADVICE FROM THE EXPERTS Did all of those quarantine gardens on Instagram make you hungry to try growing your own food? You—yes, you!—can plant a hyper-locally! Start planning now with adviceveggie patch and start feeding your family from some of our favorite garden experts. n the dark, frosty days of late winter, it’s natural to feel cooped up and cut off from the outdoors. But even when it’s too chilly for digging in the dirt, there are plenty of ways to get your green fix. In fact, whether you’re a total novice or a certified plant nerd, these in-between days are the ideal moment to begin sowing the seeds for a summertime vegetable patch that will fill your senses and your belly. “Growing season isn’t just Mother’s Day to Labor Day. There are so many reasons to get going early,” says Meredith Sheperd, founder of Love & Carrots, a company based in Washington, D.C., that helps families and organizations grow food everywhere from backyards and patios to abandoned lots and rooftops. “Planting an edible garden is actually much easier than most people think,” she says. “It improves your mood, it gets you excited about the food you’re eating, and, especially now, when so many things in the world seem uncertain, it’s a simple way to feel more self-sufficient.” Ready to get your garden on? Here’s everything you need to know to begin plotting and planting. written by SARAH KARNASIEWICZ SCOPE OUT YOUR SPACE Whether you have acres of land or just a fire escape to putter around on, the first step is taking a good look at where you’ll be gardening. And no matter how much space you have, you might want to start small. “I usually tell people to start with containers even if they have a big yard,” says Houston-based gardener and garden educator Timothy Hammond (aka @bigcitygardener). “They’re easier to maintain and weed, you can grow the exact same things that you can in a garden bed, and, if you’re resourceful, you can make a container out of anything.” Shavonda Gardner, the Sacramento, California-based designer behind the blog SG Style and Insta account @TheCottageBungalowPotager, is in the raised-bed camp. When she decided to build a sprawling, traditional cottage-style kitchen garden on her suburban lot, she had utility and accessibility in mind. “It’s important to test your soil,” she explains. “In a lot of urban areas you might have metals in the soil or lack certain nutrients. Raised beds give you control over not only what’s in the soil but your drainage, too.” A mix of containers can also be a good solution for renters or homeowners with patios or yards where there’s not a lot of dirt for digging. The key is to find the mix of options that work for your space while also being realistic about any other limitations you can’t control, like crowded spaces and low light. SORT OUT YOUR SEEDS Now for the fun part! Once you have a sense of your space it’s time to decide what varieties of veg to grow. Curling up in a cozy chair and combing through a stack of seed catalogs bursting with juicy melons, frilly lettuces, and colorful squash is a fun way to get inspired. But be careful: Don’t get so carried away that you end up with a farm’s worth of crops! “Everything looks cool in the catalog,” warns Hammond, “but not everything will grow everywhere. The trick is to pick plants that are going to be the right fit for your garden.” If you don’t know your Zone number, a standard devised by the USDA that helps gardeners identify which plants will thrive in their region based on the area’s average temperatures, Google it. COMING 02.21.21 There are plant catalogs tailored to every interest and area of the country, so pick a few and read the descriptions closely, paying attention to notes about cold hardiness and light requirements. Another essential to consider: size. For small setups without a lot of room to stretch out, dwarf or bush-style plants may be a better choice than big trailing vines. You also have to understand when to say when. “Ask yourself, do you need six zucchini plants or would two be OK?” advises Sheperd. Overwhelmed by all the delicious possibilities? The easiest way to winnow your shopping list is to think about what you actually want to eat. “If you don’t like eggplant, why would you plant it?” asks Gardner with a laugh. PLOT YOUR PLANTINGS Once you’ve picked your spa and the containers you plan to use, it’s time to start sketchin Begin by drawing a map of your pots, boxes, or beds. Then spend at least a few days reall observing your plot. Gardner recommends keeping a journal track which areas get the most light and how the sun moves throughout the day. Also scope out any trees that might shade the space once they’re all leafe out in the spring. While ample light is a must for many vegetables, if it turns out your yard is in shadow for half th day, don’t despair—just adjust yo expectations. “You have to listen your space,” says Hammond. GET GROWING When it’s time to grow, there are a few ways to go. Some veggies grow fast enough that you can plant the seeds directly into tilled Seed starting itself doesn’t require any fancy tools; a bright window and a simple peat-pellet kit from your local hardware “If a pack says it needs 80 days to reach maturity, that means 80 days from when you put the eight weeks before that date. If that sounds like a lot of work remember that you don’t have to

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