Bountiful beds full of flowers and lots of veggies—spring, summer, and fall on the farm are each a thing of beauty. Responsible for all of this goodness is Corinne Bowman, the estate manager at MacKenzie-Childs. Approachable and equal parts knowledgeable and self-deprecating, no one can make you feel like you can garden more than Corinne.
Her best advice? “You’ve just got to jump in and do it. This wasn’t my college major, but it was my summer job when I was sixteen, and I’ve been here ever since,” says Corinne. “Each year you learn new things and trust me, there will be trial and error, but you’ve got to celebrate the wins too!” Here are her low-key and smart tips to set you up for success this planting season.
Pay attention to your packets. Your seed packet that is. They will tell you so much about what you’re getting ready to plant. Some terms to be on the lookout for?
Direct sow: you’re going to plant your seeds right into the ground.
Transplant: you’ll start seedlings indoors first and then transplant them into the ground, place two seeds in each cell.
Zones: Check what zone you live in, even if you’re an experienced gardener. They could have changed over the years because of the climate variations we’re seeing now.
More isn’t always better. For direct seeds or even seedlings, you’re going to have to choose the strongest plant and get rid of the weaklings. We know, not easy, since you may just be happy to see growth. If you don’t thin out the seedlings though, you run the risk of losing them all!
1, 2, or 3 seeds? How do you know? You’re typically going to want to go with two or three but always check your seed packet because it varies plant to plant.
Prep work makes it happen. By starting with prepped soil you’re setting yourself up for gardening success. Just don’t skip weeding! At Mackenzie-Childs we don’t fertilize our gardens, but we do mix in a mushroom compost at the beginning before planting.
Watch those weeds. Stay on top of your weeds and don’t ever let them go to seed; they’ll multiple quicker than you can say veggies.
Earthworms are a good omen. Know your soil. Is there clay in it? You can tell because it will stick together. Or is your soil a darker, richer color? Earthworms are a great way to tell if the soil is nutrient dense and if it will be ideal for your plants. We bet you’ve never been this excited to see bugs.
Get your hands dirty! Yikes! Who knew too much of a good thing would be bad, in this case too much water. Many times you can’t bring a plant back from overwatering. So instead of just sticking to schedule, check your soil by sticking your finger into it. If it feels moist down deep near the roots, then there is no need to water.
Clever container tips. Don’t forget to provide drainage in your potted plants. Either check that they have a hole in the bottom for water to escape or place small rocks in the bottom of the container to keep the roots from being soaked in water. And while you might love the look of oversized containers, here’s a trick to make them lighter. Place a smaller pot upside down inside of your planter to take up space, then put dirt and your plants on top. That way it doesn’t need to be completely filled with dirt, which can take some muscle to move around.
We hope you’re feeling a little more knowledgeable now. Get out there and get your hands dirty!