Hello spring, and hello season of new beginnings! Being the season of rebirth and renewal, spring is a great time to officially begin planting and growing your own flowers, fruits or vegetables. And as the last frost has passed, we can finally bring out our gloves, knee pads and shovels.

Not only is planting a fun and relaxing hobby to take up, there are also personal benefits of growing your own fruits and vegetables. Besides having fresh organic food to eat, you can use this as an opportunity to spend time with your family or give back to your community. Stick with us and we’ll give you some beginner tips on getting your garden ready for the spring and how to keep a healthy one.

Prepping Your Spring Garden

First you’ll want to have an idea of what type of garden you want to plant. A vegetable garden? An herb garden or one with beautiful flowers? Once you choose the type of garden you’re going to create, it’s time to pick a location. Almost all vegetables and most flowers will require about six or more hours of full sun a day, so pick a place where the sun is not a stranger. Also, choose a place where you can’t ignore it. In your backyard, near the mailbox, or even by a window you stare out of frequently. Finally, keep in mind a nearby water source so you can save time and hassle of dragging the hose to the hinterlands.

Spring Garden Tips

1. Use fully composted yard waste: Good, natural compost can improve overall plant growth and health, while also increasing the water holding capacity of the soil. Composting is additionally a good way to recycle leaves and other yard waste.

2. Apply the correct fertilizer: Too much of any fertilizer can burn roots, reducing their ability to absorb water. This results in causing the plants stress. Yes, we said stress! Plants can get stressed from drought, cold or heat if they can’t absorb the right amount of water.

3. Water properly: More water isn’t necessarily better when giving your plants a drink. Waterlogged soil or pots promote some root-rotting issues, and can also suffocate roots.

4. Keep an eye on your bugs: Insect attacks are another way to put a plant under stress. Viruses and bacteria often can only enter a plant through some sort of opening. Bug damage opens this gateway. Some insects can also act as a transport for viruses, spreading them from one plant to the next.

5. Don’t crowd plants: Plants that are placed too closely together tend to grow poorly due to competition for light, water and nutrients. Giving plants adequate space and dividing or rearranging your plants when needed will also help.

Enjoy Your Bounty of Flowers, Vegetables and Fruits

Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries… if you chose to grow some delicious fruit this year, you’re in for a real treat. Fresh fruit is great to eat by itself or for preserving as jam, which can be enjoyed even during the cold winter months. There’s just something about the fresh, juicy flavor of sun-warmed strawberries and blueberries picked straight from the garden. An added bonus? These fruits are relatively low maintenance, versatile and can be grown in containers, hanging baskets, pots or in the ground.

You know what’s also great about planting and eating fruits like these? They’re naturally low in fat, sodium and calories, and they’re high in essential nutrients like potassium, fiber, folate and vitamin C. And they’re rich in antioxidants, which makes them absolutely perfect to pair with gourmet chocolate, which also contains the helpful substance. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that the two are a culinary match made in heaven!

Learn more about the health benefits of dark chocolate, or get out there and start prepping your gardens!