It’s time to plant your spring garden. In these uncertain times, gardening is not only one way to be productive with your free time, but it’s a great family activity that can add beauty (and vegetables) to your home.
There is nothing more rewarding than planting a successful vegetable garden and enjoying the abundance of a fresh harvest. The feeling of accomplishment, even if you only have a single potted cherry tomato plant on the patio, makes it worth the effort.
Studies have shown that gardening acts as a natural anti-depressant. And, teaching children how to garden improves self-esteem and self-reliance.
Gardening in the Santa Clarita Valley can be challenging because of the weather, the soil and the availability of water.
However, for every challenge there is also a solution. Remember, all gardens are trial and error. You won’t know what you can grow until you try.
You can grow healthy and delicious vegetables, even during times of water restrictions, if you plan wisely.
Try to plant some crops that will mature quickly. Not only will you have a sense of “immediate gratification,” you can avoid growing those crops during the hottest part of the summer.
It is important in the Santa Clarita Valley to add compost to soil to help it retain moisture. Then after your seedlings sprout, add organic mulch, such as bark mulch, coir or straw, around the plants to conserve water.
Perhaps the best way to deal with the SCV’s unforgiving heavy-clay soil is to practice container gardening.
You can grow just about any vegetable in a container on your patio. Lettuce, beets, beans, cabbage, tomatoes, peppers and squash will flourish.
Make sure you place your containers where there is plenty of sunlight — at least six hours of full sun every day.
Do not use metal containers, dark-
colored plastics or ceramics because they can become very hot and kill your plants. Use natural wood containers, or light color plastics.
Use organic soil, easily available from nurseries and garden centers to grow your veggies.
It is important that your containers have adequate drainage to keep plants from drowning. Drill extra holes in the bottom of your container if needed.
What grows well in the SCV? Just about everything, given enough sunlight and enough water.
Radishes are a great crop to grow for children because they grow quickly. You can have an edible radish in as little as 25 days from seed to table.
Beans, both bush beans and pole beans, can be grown in a container. The taste of fresh green beans is a revelation to many first-time gardeners. The taste is far superior to even fresh green beans bought in the produce section of the market.
Herbs can be grown inside in a window box. Basil, thyme, oregano, cilantro and chives are wonderful when they plucked fresh from your garden and used to season the evening meal.
Tomatoes are usually among the easiest plants to grow here. “Starter” tomatoes are now available at all garden centers. If you don’t know what to plant, choose a couple different varieties so you can learn what will grow best for you. Successfully growing your own tomatoes is usually the “gateway” to take the leap from beginning horticulturist to digging up the lawn and planting everything from corn to watermelons.