Cincinnati soil is newly damp, our days are longer (and warmer!), and the daffodils are teasing you. It’s time to get good at gardening. Here’s how to not kill the spaghetti squash this year.
1. Take classes at the Civic Garden Center.
Gardeners-to-be can spend a couple of hours learning the ways of a horticulturist, landscaper, or expert organic farmer—for chicken feed ($5–$30, depending on the class). And if offerings such as Growing Veggies in a Bucket and Cosmic Compost aren’t enough for you, check out Tea Ceremony, during which students will not only learn how to grow tea, but also how to serve it according to both eastern and western traditions. Current classes are offered individually through September, and many are accommodating to family groups. Civic Garden Center of Greater Cincinnati, 2715 Reading Rd., Avondale, (513) 221-0981, civicgardencenter.org
2. Work on a project with the Master Gardener Association.
For the ninth consecutive year, the masters are cheering on the amateurs in the Purple People Bridge Container Planting Contest. As a creative way to fund the association, engage the community, and beautify the city, contestants plant a container grouping on or leading up to the bridge, and a panel of local horticultural experts do the judging in June and September. This year’s curveball: Each entry must feature a plant or group of plants that are edible or produce edible fruit, flowers, or roots. Registration ends April 30 and the planting starts May 17. Greater Cincinnati Master Gardener Association, 2715 Reading Rd., Avondale, mastergardener.org
3. Weed with your neighbors.
For your own plot of Cincinnati summer-growing love, you won’t have to go far. The city is home to more than 50 community gardens, many of which are free or inexpensive to join seasonally—and a few of which take care of all the watering for you. As a bonus, the Civic Garden Center has made it easy for potential plot renters to find a garden via its website, where visitors can search by neighborhood. Community Gardens Program, Civic Garden Center of Greater Cincinnati, 2715 Reading Rd., Avondale, (513) 221-0981, civicgardencenter.org/gardens
4. Volunteer on a Cincinnati Union Co-Op Initiative farm.
Whether seeding lettuce or spinach, picking tomatoes, or weeding out the bad guys, volunteers can spend one day each month, June– October, harvesting on the co-op’s 30-acre farm in College Hill. Farm days are Saturdays, and volunteers can come whenever (and stay for as long as) they’d like. The season kickoff event is at the farm on May 10, so check out the co-op’s website for more information as it becomes available. Cincinnati Union Co-op Initiative, 4122 Langland St., Northside. (513) 403-9963, cincinnatiunioncoop.org
5. Visit Krohn Conservatory.
If 3,500 plant species from around the world can’t inspire your grower’s desire, we don’t know what will. Though programs and exhibits change throughout the year (hello, butterflies), the rainforest waterfall and exotic plants are always growing. Tickets are $4 for adults and $2 for children, and visitors can explore at their own pace. But please, be sure to stop and smell the flowers. Krohn Conservatory, 1501 Eden Park Dr., Eden Park, (513) 421-4086, cincinnatiparks.com/krohn