Experienced and aspiring home gardeners, listen up. It’s almost time for you to start getting your hands dirty in the soil and working on your vegetable garden. According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, the estimated date for the last spring frost in southwest Missouri is April 20. That means you should be able to safely plant seeds and starts in the ground without having to worry that a late-season frost will wipe them out prematurely. (Of course, this is an estimate. Mother Nature does what she wants.) Here are three ways to dig into the gardening life.
Test Your Soil
Ideally by now you’ve already tended to your soil. If not, don’t worry. The University of Missouri’s Greene County extension office is super helpful when it comes to soil prep. You can bring a sample in, and they’ll report back with your soil’s level of pH, phosphorous, organic matter and more with treatment recommendations for how to improve your soil for your growing goals. Adding fertilizer or other materials to prep your soil for growing could make all the difference in how productive your plants are. With local pros who can guide you along the way, digging into soil health is a no-brainer.
Start with Seeds
At Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co. (2278 Baker Creek Road, Mansfield, 417-924-8917), you can find a huge variety of vegetable and flower seeds, many of them rare heirloom varieties that can add some funky colors and interesting flavors to your garden. The Springfield company’s website is super-handy, with descriptions of the flavor and hardiness of the plants and helpful reviews from customers. But we recommend visiting the seed store in person, so you can flip through seed packets and peek at the farm. The spot hosts numerous events too. The first Monday of each month, from now through October, you can attend Baker Creek’s Heritage Days Festival.
Start with Plants
If you would rather grow from starter plants instead of seeds, there are lots of places that can get you started. Most local nurseries, like Schaffitzel’s Flowers & Greenhouses, Wheeler Gardens and also Wickman’s Garden Village have tons of flowers and plants—both annuals and perennials—that you can transplant into your home flower beds and pots. And they can help you determine what will work in your space if you let them know how much sun or shade the plants will get. This is the season for plant-filled events and flower sales too. At Garden Adventures in Nixa, the annual Azalea Festival celebrates that gorgeously bright flowering bush and offers many of them for sale. On April 27, you can attend the Master Gardener and Garden Society Plant Sale at Springfield Botanical Gardens at Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park (2400 S. Scenic Ave., Springfield), where you can find plenty of plants.