HAZLETON – Spring is in full swing, but Summer is on its way, meaning that those with green thumbs will be out working the ground, and those who want a green thumb will be trying to learn how not to kill every plant they touch.
Regardless of which group you fall into, Lorene Gingerich, of the Backyard Greenhouse offers her insight on the best vegetables and plants for rookie and experienced gardeners.
Gingrich, alongside her husband of 32 years Chester, can be found in the Amish community of rural Hazleton, has been operating the Backyard Greenhouse for four years, but has been around gardening all of her life.
“I’ve had a lot of gardening experience,” said Gingerich.
According to Gingerich, there is no bad vegetable to plant regardless of your experience level with a garden.
“We like most all veggies,” said Gingerich. “One of our favorites is tomatoes, cucumbers, the fresh early things like spinach, lettuce, and watermelon too. I’ve never tried okra. A lot of people say they like that too.”
When it comes to the size of the plot of land benign dedicated to the garden, Gingerich says that it depends on the gardener’s goals.
“[The plot size] depends on what all they put in the garden,” said Gingerich. “If they want a little bit of everything, they might need a lot of room, in a little area though you can produce a lot. A couple of tomatoes and cucumbers and cauliflower, that would produce enough to feed the family for a summer.”
Once you have the size of the garden decided as well as what you are putting into the garden, then, according to Gingerich a gardener has to look at how to work up the ground and keep it full of nutrients.
“We take a plow to the ground but if you are in town, take a tiller, and do a deep tilling,” said Gingerich. “Do a couple of passes once and then another a couple of days later. So that you can make a nice seed bed, you should have already done that this year, but you still can, there is still time to plant. Then consider composting. I have a big enough garden I don’t really compost but in town, composting is a great idea. That way when it gets warm you have good nutrients.”
When the ground is all worked up, Gingerich says the next step can be full of mistakes. From not knowing whether to plant as a seed or as a plant to how deep to plant.
“I put a lot of seeds directly in the ground,” said Gingerich. “Cabbage, peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, that you want to get as a plant, not a seed. You don’t have to buy them all as plants. Some of those viny things you should get as seeds. Most importantly once you get your soil ready and do some reading. You really should look up and read about it, don’t plant your seeds too deep but when you’re planting plants plant them deep enough. Also, wait till it is warm enough, for a lot of crops you should have temperatures reaching 65 to 70, for watermelons and melon plants it needs to be 70-80 degrees they need heat to germinate. A lot of plants can’t take that cold weather, other than that, just don’t plant too soon.”
According to Gingerich, the time is quickly approaching when all people should have their seeds, and plants in the garden for the summer to get the best results.
“The latest you should plant is June 15th,” said Gingerich. “Even that is a little late, you can still plant then but would be really pushing it.”
While gardening equipment is important in some cases, Gingerich says, not to worry too much about gardening tools.
You should use a hoe and a tiller, I use pruning scissors every once in a while,” said Gingerich, “But you don’t need much, the most you need is your energy and the power to get it all done.”
Gingerich emphasized the importance of having a garden, saying that it is about physical and spiritual health.
“I think it is important for exercise, for feeding families, for experiencing the outside and most importantly experiencing what God can do for us,” said Gingerich. “He grows things for us. It is good for overall health to grow a garden.”