Amp-Up Your Garden This Spring: Host a Gardening Party

It is common gardening knowledge that the last frost of Minnesota occurs in May, or, at the very latest, mid-June. When a garden freezes over, it is called a killing frost, which can go about doing just that. Come May and June, the threat of a Minnesota frost dies down, as the life in gardens starts to spring up.

As any gardener knows, upkeep of produce can be daunting, but highly rewarding when executed properly. Gardening can be a fun activity. Getting friends and family to come over to help garden is a great way to spend time hanging out with loved ones, and upping your garden ante.

Because you—the host and gardener—are familiar with the plants in your garden and the tools at your home, a gardening party will take some planning on your part. Now that it is May, warm season crops finally can be planted, including tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers. Gardening should be therapeutic, not stressful, and getting help from friends only can add to the joy.

Before you do any major planting, however, clearing out old winter debris from the garden is a must. Dead plants that accumulate throughout the cold months can impinge on the success of summer growth, so it is imperative to rid your garden of winter casualties. Another good preparatory project is to divide any flowers that look like they are getting crowded, and disperse them throughout the garden.

Preparing seeds to exchange with guests is a way to make the party a desirable one to attend, and will add variety to your garden. If your guests also start seeds—cucumbers, tomatoes, or peppers, for example—the party could turn into something like a cookie exchange, but for plants.

Annuals—flowers that bloom in the spring, disperse their seeds, and die come winter—can be added to the garden now that the threat of a frost has subsided. Coming in all shapes, sizes, and colors, they can add a lot of flavor to a fresh spring garden. Examples are snapdragons, daisies, pansies, and geraniums.

Adding a monochromatic theme to the garden is a very bold gesture that allows a lot of room for creativity. Sticking with a simple color—like white, for example—will make everything else in the garden stand out. Guests can help you design the theme of this year’s garden and execute the plan by means of getting in the dirt, and adding life to your garden.

To get guests motivated, and keep them satisfied, food and refreshments are necessary. A light, flavorful orzo salad is the perfect dish for a gardening party. Just cook a pound of orzo pasta as directed, drain, and spread out on a large cookie sheet. Drizzle three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over the pasta, and let it cool. Once cooled, transfer the pasta into a large serving bowl. Add the following ingredients: 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 2 cups fresh arugula, 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese, 1/2 cup dried cherries, 12 chopped fresh basil leaves, 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper. Toss the ingredients, and serve your hard-working guests this mouth-watering salad.

A mint julep is the ultimate garden party drink. All it requires is some fresh mint from the garden, two cups of sugar, two cups of water, crushed ice, and some whisky, and you have the optimal refreshment for your guests.

Now that it’s finally as warm as it needs to be in order to do some gardening, the sun is strong enough to make a pot of sun tea. It’s a three- to five-hour process, so preparing it the day before the party would be a good idea. You need a glass pitcher that holds about two quarts, around six tea bags and some water. Let the pitcher sit out, as the sun brews the tea until the desired strength, then put in the refrigerator to chill.

Throughout the party, guests can help plant, clean the garden, discuss gardening techniques, and share seeds, all the while drinking mint juleps, and eating a delightful salad.

Hosting a gardening party is an excellent excuse to get some work done on your garden, and spread the gardening love with your friends. In turn, you not only will be adding life to your garden, but also to the lives of your guests as well. It’s a fun idea for everyone involved.

When could be better to throw a gardening party than now?

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