How Does Your Garden Grow? A Primer for Springtime Planting


final garden

Can you smell that old familiar scent? Spring is in the air!

“Spring?! Are you nuts, Kristi? It was snowing last week!!”

I know, I know, I know, it seems like spring is a long way off right now. The days of winter after the new year can be some of the longest. The holidays are over, the days are cold, you’re stuck inside….but the promise of spring is everywhere you look, especially here in the south. Buds are popping out on the trees, daffodils are starting to show some green through the winter dirt, and the occasional 65 degree day doesn’t hurt, right? It’s my favorite time of year. 🙂

Another thing I look forward to this time of year is the beginning of gardening season! I know, January and February seem like the absolute wrong time of year to think about gardening, but this is the BEST time to get started! There’s a lot of planning involved in a successful garden, so grab a cup of joe and your seed catalog, and let’s get started!

Here in Columbia, the average last frost date, which is the earliest you should put most summer crops in the ground, is around April 15. Now that doesn’t mean you should just rest on your laurels and wait for April. It means now is crunch time to get ready for April. If you have never planted a garden, you’ll need to decide if you want a traditional garden, raised beds, or a container garden. Here’s the difference:

  • Traditional Garden – A traditional garden is one you plant in your backyard. If you choose this option, you should send a soil sample to the extension service for testing. You’ll find out what nutrients you need to add to your soil so your veggies get what they need. If you don’t have room for a tradional garden, don’t despair! You have a multitude of options!
  • Raised beds – Raised beds allow for intensive planting, like Square Foot Gardening, which allows for more plants in a small area. Building a raised bed can be a simple affair that even a novice builder can accomplish. The Internet abounds with instructions and plans for raised beds, but you can start here for a basic introduction.
  • Container GardenContainer gardening is perfect if you live in a small space. True to the name, plants are grown in containers such as planter boxes, wooden barrels, hanging baskets and large flowerpots, perfect for a balcony or patio. You can also try vertical gardening which works well in small spaces.

Next step, deciding what to plant. This is my favorite part! Many an hour has been spent drooling over seed catalogs, coveting all the different varieties of everyday veggies. Don’t be intimidated by all the variety. Try it out, and be adventurous!

Those funky heirloom squash?

Yellow or purple tomatoes?

Purple pole beans?

purple pole beans

Don’t be afraid! They are delicious! I guarantee they taste better and are more flavorful than their more conservative cousins.

Once you’ve chosen a few varieties and have seeds in hand, it’s time to plant! (Plant inside, I mean.) So what are you waiting on? Get your planting started now!

** Want to know more? Look for the next gardening installment coming soon! We’ll take a closer look at the in’s and out’s of starting seeds indoors. Don’t miss it! **

What do you like most about gardening? Tell us in the comments!



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