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Starting a new garden

    Date Posted: Sat, Mar 25 - 4:25 pm


  • Hi! I live off of N 18th St. and my apartment building has a very large bed that has been empty for a while and that I would like to start growing in (herbs and vegetables). I plan to come pick up a soil kit to test the current soil in the bed. Is that a first step you'd recommend? After testing the soil, are there specific veggies and herbs you'd recommend for the climate/area we're in? Are there any recommended local places that I could get starters and/or transplants? I also have read that I'll likely need to turn the soil to loosen it up. Welcome suggestions. Thanks! - Marg
  • Answer

  • Hello Marg, Nice to hear you're interested in growing food. My first question/concern is if you have cleared this project with the owners or property manager of the apartment you're living in. That would be the first item on the check list. After that, testing the soil is a necessary step. Then, depending on the results, you would add any needed amendments. You can never go wrong by adding compost to the bed. Compost is a good addition because it can lighten heavy soils and enrich sandy soils. As far as what to plant, that would really depend on what you want to plant. I would make a list of desired vegetables and herbs and then see what zone they are appropriate for. Your basic tomatoes, zucchini, basil and parsley will do fine here. The important thing is to check the zone and maturity dates for whatever you are planting. If you want to plant spinach or lettuce or similar greens be aware that they like cool temperatures so they'll need a head start. When it gets too hot they will "bolt" or go to seed and be done for the summer planting season. You can pull them and replace them with a heat-loving vegetable. They can also be planted again as a fall crop when the weather starts to cool a bit. You can find seedlings at most garden centers. I think that Lowe's, Home Depot and similar stores offer some organic seedlings. I would check about both types of stores to see if they offer what you want to plant. Please check out the Master Gardeners who man the help desks at your local library. Check in with the library to see what days and times the gardeners are available. They will give you a wealth of information and advice. Also, if you go to the Main Library there is a seed bank (in an old card catalog) near the indoor entrance. The availability of seeds waxes and wanes but it's worth a try! Good luck with your project. Happy gardening!