Spring is here! And while this spring definitely feels and looks different from anything we’re used to, nature is still something we can embrace. If you’re a gardener, this is probably one of your favorite times of the year. And if you have some extra time on your hands these days, you might want to give it a try this season! There are a lot of benefits to gardening as a hobby. You’ll spend time outside (get that vitamin D!), burn calories, do something productive, and relieve stress. Plus, if you plant a vegetable garden, it’ll encourage you to eat healthier and need less at the grocery store. It’s also an activity that the whole family can enjoy!
Below are some gardening tips for experienced gardeners and the newbies, too. And if you’re wondering where you can even shop for gardening supplies these days, scroll to the bottom. We’ve included local spots that are offering safe shopping options for Spring 2020.
Check Your Soil
It is important to make sure your soil is balanced and has the nutrients your plants need in it. Check the acid balance of your soil: most plants like a neutral soil, which means a ph reading of around 7 or just below. Soil PH testers are easy and cheap to buy from garden centers. If your soil is too acidic, then use lime to neutralize it. Organic matter helps feed plants, and should be mixed into your soil. If you don’t already have a compost heap, now might be the time to start one, or you can buy commercial compost in bags.
Treat Your Lawn
To have a healthy lawn, you need healthy soil. You don’t need strong chemical fertilizers. Some fertilizers can actually damage the lawn, causing the leaves to grow quicker than the roots and actually encouraging weeds. If your lawn is looking a little tired after winter, then there are things you can do to get it looking green and gorgeous without the need for chemicals. First, check its ph balance as you did for your soil. It should be slightly acidic, so around ph 5-6. Make sure you lawn is well aerated. Work over it with a fork, allowing both water and air to get to the roots of your grass. Spring is the best time of year to get rid of moss and use crabgrass preventer.
Spring is the time of year to make plans for your garden. What do you want to achieve over the next year? If you are just starting your garden, then you have a blank canvas. If you already have a mature garden, think about what you might like to do with it. Do you want to put in some new beds? Create a new water feature? Lay a new patio for summer barbecues? As plants grow best at this time of year, it is the ideal time to try out some new things.
Plant Flowers and Shrubs
This is a good time of year to sow some hardy annuals. Some less-hardy annuals should be started indoors, and then planted out in a month or so. Spring is also a good time to plant new shrubs and perennials, and to move shrubs from pots into beds. Make sure that before you plant anything you give your beds a thorough weeding: if the plants that you are putting out are growing fast, so will any weeds, so make sure you get them before they grow and become a nuisance. It is a good idea to give your beds a cover of organic fertilizer too.
Work on Your Vegetable Garden
If you haven’t grown vegetables before, this could be the right time to start. After the last frost, you have license to plant pretty much anything in your vegetable plot. In Hunterdon County, the last frost date is typically in early May. This is the easiest and most rewarding time of year to grow vegetables, so it is a good time to start if you are a beginner vegetable gardener. Try lettuce, cabbage, beets, broccoli, potatoes, pumpkins, corn and squash to name just a few. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and cucumber can also be planted in spring, but they are best started indoors and then gently moved outside.
Spring gardening is fun. You get to see the fruits of your labors very quickly, and being out working on the garden is much more enjoyable in the warmer weather than it was in winter.
Local Spots That Can Help
J&J Landscaping and Garden Center – 2020 Happening List Winner
143 RT-31, Flemington
J&J Landscaping has their garden center open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., practicing safe, social distancing procedures. They are disinfecting their trucks and equipment daily, employees are wearing gloves, and they are being careful to keep a safe distance away from customers while working. They are also offering curbside pickup. Place an order over the phone, pay by credit card, and then pick up at the store. In addition to flowers and other gardening items, they are also selling make-at-home kits such as plant terraniums and succulents. Take a look at their Facebook page to see items as they become available.
Rutgers Landscape And Nursery – 2020 Happening List Finalist
1051 US Highway 202, Ringoes
Rutgers Landscape & Nursery is open for outdoor shopping (they have 12 acres!), or you can visit the website or call.
Sweet Valley Farms
134 US Highway 202, Ringoes
Sweet Valley Farms is open for in-store shopping (but practicing safe distancing) in addition to offering delivery and curbside pickup.
Country Garden Shed
1153 Croton Road, Flemington
Country Garden Shed is open for in-store shopping Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Closed Sundays.) They’re practicing social distancing and have a secure “money box” outside where you can pay with cash or check, or you can call and pay with your credit card. They’re also offering lots of special deals right now. Check out their Facebook page for their latest promotions.