Memorial Day is the unofficial start to the gardening season in New York’s Rochester and Finger Lakes region. That day was selected for both edible and ornamental gardens and landscapes because we can be pretty sure there won’t be any more frosts or freezes this spring.
With Covid still on people’s minds, this three-day holiday weekend will find many families staying at home. That doesn’t mean you have to stay in the house. You can have a fun filled staycation outdoors planting a garden. Make it a family affair.
Planting annuals and vegetables affords you an opportunity for the whole family to get involved. As a family, walk your property to see where annuals and veggies should be planted. If you’re familiar with flowering annuals, you can make a list of the number of each variety you need to fill your spaces. Estimate on the high side so you can plant them close together and discourage weeds. If you aren’t that familiar with the various plants, measure your beds and then rely on the nursery tag information and advice from the garden center horticulturists to guide you in making your choices. Also let the garden center horticulturists guide you as to which plants to buy as seeds and which to buy in pots and six packs.
Include in your plan an area just for the children to plant and take care of. While it’s up to you whether you plant veggies in rows or mix them in with the flowers, I suggest that the kids’ garden be a mix of both. It will show them the difference between ornamentals and edibles as they grow side by side. They will also get great satisfaction from being able to pick and eat the fruits of their labor. Can’t you see the smiles on their faces as they pick juicy red tomatoes fresh from the vine, bite into them as the juice runs down their chin? I hope you have your phone with you to take a photo you can cherish forever. Last but not least, combination gardens are very trendy today. As long as you’re teaching them to garden, you might as well teach them the most modern way. Who knows, you might want to plant the grown-up gardens the same way.
If you take the whole family to the garden center, everyone can have a say in what will be purchased. There’s no sense in buying annuals that don’t appeal to other members of the family or veggies that won’t get eaten. When you get home, you might want to begin by helping the kids get their garden planted first, especially if they’re excited about getting started. You have a three-day weekend and, hopefully, more patience than the young ones.
A Memorial Day weekend like this, modified in the face of a pandemic, can become a family tradition for many Memorial Days ahead.