BOOTHBAY, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Getting the most out of your garden takes advance planning.
Justin Nichols from Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay recently shared some spring planting tips with NEWS CENTER's Lee Nelson.
Nichols said there is no need to buy expensive fertilizers when it is so easy to make good compost yourself. He said a pile of greens, mulch and straw will take about a year to break down if left untouched.
To speed up decomposition, Nichols recommended adding a little air and moisture into the mix and turning it over occasionally. The easiest was to do that is by collecting your compost in a simple cage made out of chicken wire, spare lobster traps, wood pallets or some other surplus material.
Your compost pile isn't a catch-all, and Nichols said there are some things you are better off keeping out of it. He said too much wood and animal fat will slow down decomposition. He also recommended against adding thorny plants into the mix to save yourself any unnecessary pain when it comes time to spread the compost over your garden.
Once the snow melts and you are ready to transfer your indoor plants into the ground, Nichols said the right pot can make your job easier. There are several types available that offer different benefits. Plastic pots can be reused annually, and you can recycle them when they are no longer needed. Peat moss pots can be inserted directly into your garden since they are biodegradable, but remember to poke holes in them first so your seedlings can breathe. Cow pots are new to the market. Like the peat moss variety, they too are biodegradable. Being made of dried manure, the cow pots are infused with nitrogen which serves as a fertilizing agent.
The ultimate goal of all your hard work in the garden is to feed your family. Through proper storage, Nichols said you can make your harvest last all year. He said root vegetables like carrots, parsnips and potatoes can stay fresh for months if kept in a dark, dry place with temperatures between 40 and 50 degrees. He said freezing works best for greens like beans and parsley. For applesauce, tomatoes and pickles, Nichols recommended canning.
To learn more about the work Nichols does as a horticulturist, click here for a link to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens' website.