26 September, 2022

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When and how to start planning your garden

EAU CLAIRE (WQOW) – If this week’s warm weather has you looking forward to gardening this summer, there are things you can do now to get ready. Greenhouses across the Chippewa Valley are already starting to grow their veggies for this year’s season, and you can too.

Staff at Chippewa Valley Growers in Eau Claire said the COVID-19 pandemic caused a boom in the garden business last year, and they expect that to continue this year.

Jason Koppe, one of the lead growers there, said now is the time to plant things like tomatoes, peppers, or heads of lettuce, if you plan to start your garden from seeds.

“You want to do that in a controlled setting,” Koppe said. “You can do it in your basement, and you do it under grow lights.”

He said if you’re starting from scratch, it’s important to do your research.

“If your grow lights are too high, your plants will get leggy, which means they stretch out,” said Koppe. “If you get them nice and low, and closer to the plant, like natural sunlight, it will grow more of a bushy plant for you.”

Koppe said it’s also important to plant your seeds in a high quality seed starter mix, specially formulated with ingredients like peat moss, vermiculite and perlite to maintain the right amount of moisture.

“You don’t want to just go out to your garden and dig up some soil,” he said.

If you prefer to buy potted plants to start your garden, he said you can buy them any time this spring, but to keep them inside near a south-facing window until after Memorial Day, otherwise you risk losing them to frost.

When it comes to getting your outdoor space ready, he said not to uncover any vegetation you covered up in the fall yet, to continue protecting it from frost damage.

Koppe said you can start picking up leaves and other debris from your yard, but doesn’t recommend pruning any trees or bushes. He said there could already be some new growth starting, and pruning them now could potentially damage the new growth.