By: Rachel Melvin, Queen Anne’s County Master Gardener Volunteer Coordinator & Horticulture Educator
The earthy aromatic smell of freshly tilled soil takes me back to a time when my only worries were chores and staying out of trouble. I can still remember the old blue ford tractor my uncle would use to get the ground ready for spring planting. Our garden usually consisted of the basics: tomatoes, squash, beans, zucchini, and cantaloupe. We grew enough to feed the family and a few neighbors. As an adult, I’ve packed up my things and moved away from this quite country setting. Yet the yearning for simpler times and an expansive garden become an ever present dream. For these things, I know I am not alone. Suburban life creates many challenges in the food gardening initiative. Our lots are big enough for a swing set and patio furniture but not much more. And an “in ground” garden seems more like a fantasy and less like reality. These challenges can be frustrating but they can also lend us to some great palate pleasing possibilities. Becoming an innovative gardener is simple and easy; by using these small spaces to your advantage. Create a square foot garden, grow herbs in containers, or train cucumbers and melons to grow up a trellis. The possibilities are endless.
The University of Maryland Extension – Queen Anne’s Master Gardener Volunteers will be holding several Grow It Eat It classes throughout Queen Anne’s in April that will focus on container gardening and edible landscapes. The Grow It Eat It campaign is collaboration between the University of Maryland Extension Master Gardener Volunteers and the Home and Garden Information Center. This venture addresses the growing need of Marylanders to learn how to start and maintain successful food gardens. As part of Maryland’s Food Gardening Network, Queen Anne’s County Master Gardener Volunteers offer Beginner Vegetable Garden classes and workshops. All classes and workshops are free and open to the public and will be given by Master Gardener Volunteers across Queen Anne’s County at community locations and to groups upon request. Our vision is one million gardeners in the state producing their own affordable, healthy food.
April Grow It Eat It Classes:
• Tuesday, April 12th Unusual Fruits for the Backyard at the Chestertown Extension Office from 7 to 8 pm
• Wednesday, April 13th Container Gardens & Raised Beds at the Stevensville Library from 6:30 to 7:30 pm
• Wednesday, April 13th Container Gardens & Raised Beds at the Centreville Library from 6:30 to 7:30 pm
• Thursday, April 14th Herbs and Planting an Edible Landscape at the Sudlersville Memorial Library from 6:30 to 7:30 pm
For more information contact Rachel Melvin, Horticulture Educator with University of Maryland Extension-Queen Anne’s County at (410)758-0166 or at firstname.lastname@example.org . Also check out the Maryland Food Gardening Network-Grow It Eat It program at http://growit.umd.edu , for more tips on growing great gardens.
University of Maryland Extension programs are open to everyone without regard to race, color, religion, age, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital or parental status, or disability
April Grow It Eat It Tips
• Continue to sow lettuce, spinach, Swiss chard, beets and other favorite salad vegetables.
• Thin seedlings of leafy greens, to a few inches apart and eat the ones you pull. Check planting chart for final spacing between mature plants.
• Plant seeds of carrots, turnips and parsnips in deeply worked, well-drained soil.
• Start Brussels sprouts indoors, under lights, to be planted in late May, for fall harvest.
• Start tomato seeds indoors under lights, to be ready for transplanting outdoors in six to eight weeks.
• Don’t jump the gun with warm season crops; plant outside only after all danger of frost is past. (Night temperatures below 45º F. can damage plants and later fruiting.)
• Optional: lay down black plastic mulch to warm the soil, two to three weeks before planting warm season crops, like tomato, pepper, eggplant, and melon. Plas¬tic mulch also keeps down weeds. (Biodegradable non-plastic mulch, made out of corn, is now avail¬able; www.highmowingseeds.com is one source.)
• Sow beans and corn outdoors late this month or early May, when soil temperatures are above 50º F. (Or pre-start them indoors to get them off to a faster start.)
• Start squash, melon and cucumbers indoors to be transplanted in the garden, in two to three weeks. (These plants also benefit from black plastic or biodegradable mulch.) Or, plant them directly in the garden, in late May through mid-June.
*** For more information visit www.growit.umd.edu