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In the Garden: Gardening brings joy all year

Throughout this winter, I’ve been feeling a deep sense of gratitude for the delicious food last year’s garden has given us.

We were able to line our pantry with jars of jam, applesauce, tomato sauce and salsa, cucumber relish and cherries for pies. In the basement, we stored butternut squash, onions, garlic and the last of the tomatoes for use in yummy dishes.

The freezer was packed with bags of celery, leeks, sweet peppers and Swiss chard as well as blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and sliced peaches.

In our garage, we filled bins with beets for roasting, and carrots, parsnips and potatoes to incorporate into soups, stews and casseroles. There were also boxes of apples harvested from our small orchard in the fall.

None of this would be possible without a garden. It gives me a great deal of satisfaction to be able to grow healthy, organic produce – both for ourselves and our local food bank. Gardening is such an amazing experience that everyone should engage in.

Now it’s finally time to focus on the 2018 garden season. Last year, the theme of my columns was “everyone can grow a garden.” This year, I’m continuing that theme in my quest to get everyone growing their own food.

Just like last year, I will pair each column with a video to expand on the topic I wrote about, demonstrate a technique or provide an update on how my garden is growing.

I won’t limit my focus to edible gardening, however. Some of my planned topics include ways to continue gardening as we age, growing flowering shrubs, gardening in the shade, propagating plants and dealing with pesky critters. I’ll also preview upcoming garden events.

Whether you are a beginning gardener or a Master Gardener, remember to avoid going overboard with your plans and overwhelming yourself. Seed displays at garden centers and in seed catalogs make us all want to grow a bigger and better garden than before.

While that’s quite understandable, we all need to be realistic about the amount of time we’ll have to tend it. For example, before you plant a bunch of tomatoes, think about how many you can actually eat. Will some of them be used to make sauce or ketchup? If you just want some to eat fresh, plant two or three seedlings at the most.

It’s also important to look at garden tasks that will be the most time-consuming, two of which are watering and weeding.

If you have a water faucet near your garden, consider purchasing an automatic timer that will water your plants on a schedule. That can be a tremendous timesaver instead of having to drag around a hose, and it will keep your plants healthy.

The best way to cut down on weeding is to place a layer of mulch around your plants and in the pathways of your garden. Suitable mulches include shredded leaves, straw, or grass clippings from a lawn that hasn’t been treated with herbicides.

Consider attending classes on gardening, such as the ones Spokane County and Kootenai County Master Gardeners offer.

To learn what I’m growing this year, see the accompanying list. You can find this week’s “Everyone Can Grow a Garden” video at youtube.com/c/susansinthegarden. Let’s get this new garden season underway.

Susan Mulvihill is co-author, with Pat Munts, of “Northwest Gardener’s Handbook.” Contact her at Susan@susansinthegarden.com.


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