It's planting time! (At the Farmstand: May 7-20)

Peggy Paul Casella, Resident Wordsmith (and Farmstand Associate) As any seasoned gardener will tell you, Mother's Day weekend is prime time for planting warm season plants. It's that sweet spot in the year when the soil is fully thawed and still moist from April rain, and the temperatures are above frost point but not high enough to scorch baby leaves and blooms. Plus, planting new flowers and vegetables seems like a good way to honor the one who gave you life, am I right?

To get your spring/summer garden started, head over to the Farmstand for some Bennett Compost (we've got 5- and 25-pound bags). Bennett collects food scraps from residences and businesses all over Philadelphia, which they then compost in bins located in gardens around the city.

compost

New to the composting scene? Compost is simply organic matter (leaves and food waste) that has broken down naturally over time into a dark, crumbly substance resembling topsoil. It's a key ingredient in organic farming, as it naturally improves the structure and health of the soil while serving as a biological control against unwanted pests.

Here are a few ways to use compost in your home garden and backyard:

  • Work 1 to 2 inches of compost into the top 3 inches of soil in all in-ground and container vegetable and flower gardens.
  • Sprinkle a handful of compost in the bottom of each hole when you transfer plants to your garden.
  • When your plants grown to mid-size, spread 1/2 inch of compost around the base of each plant monthly to promote high yields and healthy vegetables.
  • Treat bald spots in your yard by working an inch of compost into the soil and then reseeding.
  • Apply compost as mulch around trees, shrubs, and other plants to prevent weeds, help reduce moisture loss, and stabilize the soil temperature.

Once your gardens, window boxes, and containers are tilled and treated with compost goodness, throw down some Pollinator Project Wildflower Seeds(available now at the 'stand) for a splash of color. The Pollinator Project was founded by a local beekeeper in response to the staggering decline in honeybee populations, attributed to the widespread use of certain harmful pesticides. Each packet of seeds contains a mix of perennials and annuals that will bloom year-round, creating a sustainable--and safe--energy source for honeybees and other pollinators.

No worries if your thumb is more black than green, or if you don't think you have the space to garden. Just fill a pot with soil and compost, toss in some of the wildflower seeds, water generously, and set it in a sunny spot. (For other gardening tips and projects, click here or here or here or here.)