"A Way to Garden" with Margaret

Margaret Roach’s Upstate New York garden represents a lifelong love of plants as well as a multiseasonal philosophy in which gardens’ lives mirror those of human beings. This vision also serves as the foundation for Margaret’s book “A Way to Garden,” which explains how to bring various botanicals to life as the seasons change. Today, she discusses her approaches and techniques with Martha.

As Margaret explains, the first two months of the year are the period of conception. As such, it’s a great time to plan, get organized, choose seeds, and amass raw materials. March and April can be likened to birth, as the time when the first seedlings begin to sprout. According to Margaret, you can basically group all your planting into three categories based on planting times (6 to 8 weeks from the last frost for tomatoes and peppers, 4 to 6 weeks for kales and cabbages, and 2 to 4 weeks for cucumbers and melons). In addition, March and April are great months for soil preparation. From there, May and June are analogous to youth—a time when plants grow, leaves flourish, and flowers bloom in abundance. With spring bloomers, remember to prune right after the bloom. July and August, which can be likened to adulthood, are optimal months for harvesting and dividing, while September and October represent aging—an ideal time to take inventory and plant fall bulbs. November and December, which signify death and afterlife, are often dismissed by gardeners as a time of dormancy. But as Margaret concludes, the last two months of the year offer a wonderful opportunity for composting.

Margaret Roach

Editor-in-chief

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia

Margaret Roach

“A Way to Garden” (Clarkson Potter, 1998)

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