Now that the holidays are over, our minds are not so occupied with other things. It’s time for our thoughts to turn to spring, flowers and planning our gardens. Seed catalogs will be out soon. Even if the temperature outside is cold, looking through a seed catalog or perusing through garden Websites can be very warming. There are a lot of choices when it comes to flowers and vegetables to add to, or start, a new garden. So it’s never too early to start thinking about growing your garden while living on a budget.
Starting From Scratch
If you ever thought about starting a new flower garden from scratch you might have had second thoughts. There are many questions to be answered.
What type of plants will grow in my space?
How do I lay this out?
How much is this going to cost?
Each of these questions needs an answer. Something else to consider is what kind of soil you have and whether the soil should be amended.
What does it mean to start from scratch?
This means you are putting a garden in where there was none before. My example may help you with things to consider for your own “from scratch” garden.
My “from scratch” flower garden is along a 50’ side of a quonset hut facing the lawn. This was the largest and easiest of three gardens started “from scratch” on the property. The large area also allowed me to branch out and try a few new full sun plants – something I hadn’t done previously.
Get Started Gardening
There was no garden soil in the area at the beginning, but there were plenty of weeds. If this is also your situation you start by pulling as many weeds as possible. Then place layers of newspapers down. This method is the start of building (essentially) a raised bed garden. The newspaper blocks new weeds from growing and eventually breaks down as compost.
After that, you cover the newspaper with several inches of good garden soil mixed with compost. This was the “easy” part. We had good garden soil delivered to our house and mixed it with compost. If you can do the same thing, then you will know you are starting with good soil.
To contain the soil, we edged the garden with 6”x18” concrete paver blocks. They are very simple in design but do the job well. Be sure to dig down enough to give the blocks good support. We did not use concrete to keep the blocks together. They are simply dry fitted and have held up very well for four years and counting.
Tip: Be sure to provide the landscaping business supplying your soil the calculations of length, width and depth of the garden. This provides them the measurements for the amount of soil and compost needed to fill the garden.
Once your blocks are laid out it’s time to shovel in the soil. Or if you are lucky enough, you can use a garden tractor with a front loader. They make the job a lot easier and quicker. After the garden is filled with soil and compost, don’t forget to step back to marvel at the huge area to be filled.
How to Save on Plants to Fill Your Garden
To buy all of the plants we needed to fill our new garden, it would have been very expensive. In our situation, I had divided perennials, shrubs, and purchases on hand. Some of the plants were in pots from a recent move, or some were already in the ground.
Now, with the soil in place, it is time to move the plants to their new home. Most plants transplant well as long as they receive plenty of water after moving them. Try to avoid moving plants in very hot and humid conditions. Those conditions can lead to shock and the plant can suffer. Plants need plenty of water each day until established.
When all are planted, add two to three inches of mulch to help retain moisture and reduce weeds. Of course, watering by hand, adding drip irrigation or soaker hoses will give your plants a good start.
Some of the plants I transplanted included daylilies, iris, roses, a mock orange tree, hostas, astilbe, ladies mantle and spiraea bushes. I also bought plants from my local garden club members including a burning bush, sedum, perennial geranium plants and more.
The pink roses were a gift transplant from my mother from her yard. They are “old-fashioned” roses that only bloom once a season. They have nice fragrance and seem incredibly hardy. They made it through the move from house to house.
Full-sun plants included nine bark and joe pye weed. The nine bark has grown to around five to six feet tall, and has wonderful copper-colored leaves. I would recommend this plant for anyone who needs something to anchor the garden. It is also useful as a barrier between yards. The joe pye weed is a native plant to Central New York and grows each year to about five feet tall. It has has very large flowers that insects love. I even planted an Easter lily that had died in the pot. It has grown in the garden and re-bloomed for the last two years.
By thinking ahead about what plants you can split, purchase, or even share from a family member, you will be ready when spring is here to start that garden from scratch. Start sketching and planning now, it will bring warmer thoughts.