INDIANAPOLIS — Volunteers at Bethany Community Garden are busy planting and tending to plants that will provide fresh food to two food pantries.
“In 2020 we gave away 2.5 tons of fresh, organic produce,” said Bruce Bye, co-coordinator of the garden. “Our theme is building community through gardening.”
Bethany hosted guest speaker Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp, also known as the Hoosier Gardener, to provide professional gardening classes for new and experienced gardeners alike.
She shared keys to garden success during an online class.
4 Tips For Success
1. Seeds should be planted at the right time, depth and distance.
2. Remember that the planting time depends on hardiness and the climate in your area.
3. Buy disease-free seeds.
4. Some vegetables do better as transplants instead of seeds.
Before you start a garden, there are a few considerations to keep in mind, Sharp said.
Who will be doing the work? What do you and your family like to eat?
“Plant what your family wants to eat,” Sharp advised. “Also think about how you want to use the food you grow in your garden. If you want to preserve it that may make a difference in what you plant.”
Like real estate, planning a garden is about location, location, location.
“You want a place with the space you need to grow your plants,” Sharp said. “You want an area in full sun — a minimum of six hours of direct sun. You also want an area that has decent soil. You want it to be close to water, especially if you have to lug water or string a hose to water everything.”
Sharp encouraged new gardeners to start small.
“If it’s too big it’s overwhelming,” she said. “The weeds take over. It becomes more work as opposed to the pleasure of growing your own food. A 10-by-10 square foot garden would work well for a family of four.”
When selecting plants, consider plant size, diseases resistance, insect resistance, soil requirements and habitat, she advised.
Sharp also shared ways to improve soil quality.
How To Improve Soil
1. Add organic matter.
2. Test your soil and add needed nutrients before planting and during the growing season as needed.
3. Amend soil pH if recommended by the soil test.
Learn more about Bethany Community Gardens at www.facebook.com/bethanycommunitygardens.
Learn more about the Hoosier Gardener at www.hoosiergardener.com.