Some people like a good story. Others just want the bottom line. When people are new to gardening, it’s easy to feel a bit overwhelmed. I understand.
Sure, it can be as easy as opening up a package of seeds, sprinkling them into a plastic container filled with a bag of cheap potting soil and watching them sprout. However, in order to achieve the results that most people are hoping for, there’s a little more to it. As with any hobby, it takes time and interest to learn all of the details.
During the spring time, a quick trip to the local hardware store finds you making the unexpected purchase of a few begging plants. Due to your busy schedule you don’t have the time, or the desire, to learn the details, but you do need to know what to do with them once you get home. You’re wondering, “What do I do?” You just need the bottom line.
I have a lot of gardening conversations and can confidently say that if I had to boil gardening success down to just a few requirements, these three suggestions would be my “bottom line” advice:
Concentrate on creating really good soil. When we first started gardening, all of our focus was on selecting healthy-looking plants. We didn’t even really think about the soil. We were new and ignorant. Today, soil is our greatest expense and our greatest effort. We have learned that if your soil is healthy then you will grow healthy, productive plants. We spend a lot of time and energy making sure that we have the right composition and excellent soil.
This is a big one. Your success or failure can literally lie within the selection of a seed packet. This is where the wisdom of the doers comes in.
Even the guy running the seed counter at the local garden center is usually an expert! People who have been farming and around gardening for many years can quote proven varieties from memory. Seeds and plants can be expensive, and it takes time, effort and energy to plant a crop. Because of this, you want it to succeed. If it fails you try to figure out why, and many times, it comes right back to the fact that you selected a variety that is not suited for your zone or soil composition. You lock that into your memory, and the next year you won’t make that same mistake.
The excellence of plant breeding today allows consumers to select seeds that are exactly suited for their specific type of gardening. Take time to learn the pros and cons about heirlooms, hybrids, GMOs, micro-vegetables and others. If you want to plant a row garden then choosing Clemson Spineless okra is a great option, but if you have a balcony and want to grow okra in a container then use Baby Bubba. You will have to do some reading in seed catalogs, but your success or failure can be as easy as making the right choice.
You can have the best plan laid out and the best varieties selected, but if you plant them at the wrong time you will not be successful. Root vegetables and greens do not like real hot weather, and tomatoes and basil die when the temperature get too cold. Some vegetables mature in 54 days, and others take 110 days.
Planting at the end of a growing season is not fruitful. Edible gardening in Oklahoma is already challenging because of our weather, so it is important that you understand the various factors involved in planting different crops.
If these three things are the only ones that you have the time to listen to, then you have the basics of gardening down. And, while you’re listening, may I share one more bottom line with you?
My friend, God loves you. He created you and carefully knit you in your mother’s womb. You are not a mistake. He sent His one and only Son, Jesus, to live on this earth and die on a cross so that you would have a way to enter into fellowship with Him, both now and for eternity. He is not a celestial sheriff waiting to shoot you down, but rather He’s a Father, a Friend, a Comforter and the Holy God who calls YOU by your name. In the whole big story of this crazy world that’s an awesome bottom line!
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior” (Isa. 43:1-3).