A Ramble Through the Garden

Spring is well advanced in this part of the United States, and that means gardening. And mowing the lawn, which I should do today, but mostly gardening.

It looks like we’ll be in this house for another year, barring either disaster or extreme good fortune on the level of winning the lottery, so I can take advantage of our relative stability to start my own seeds and plant things I didn’t plant last year. I can also grumble at my lack of foresight- since I didn’t know if we were going to stay another year, I didn’t plant blackberries last summer, or garlic in the fall, because I didn’t think I’d get to enjoy them, and money’s too tight to buy them for the next tenant. Though I did purchase some lily-of-the-valley that probably won’t bloom until next spring, on the logic that I might see it; it’s not expensive; and since it spreads, I only needed a few roots to make a nice little patch of it.

In any case, most of my gardening is done with vegetables and fast-growing flowers. I started tomatoes and peppers from seed last week. The peppers haven’t germinated yet, but the tomatoes are about an inch tall and doing nicely. I’ll probably bite the bullet and buy basil plants, since starting herbs from seed is dicey if you don’t have a heat mat, which I don’t (I also don’t have a place to put it, but that’s another story).

A lot of vegetables can be direct-sown, and that was yesterday’s project. I’ve been revamping the raised beds to make them sturdier, and now that one is relatively square, plumb, and level, I finally sowed lettuce, radishes (mostly to help keep insects away from everything else), peas, and carrots. I also have sixty onion sets that need a place to land, and some rocket and kale that should go in before it gets too hot. Or those can wait for fall, when I attempt broccoli (I have trouble with brassicas in general, which is a pity because I love to eat them).

Around the middle of May, I’ll be able to set out tomatoes, peppers, basil, and cucumbers. I have to restrain myself from putting them out earlier, because I live in a continental climate, and the ‘last frost date’ is a guess rather than a logical prediction.

Whenever I start thinking I’ve waited too long to plant, I remind myself that I didn’t get around to planting anything until the second half of June last year (we only moved in the first week of June) and the garden did well enough, so as long as I haven’t waited that long, I’m ahead of the game.

Do you garden? What are you planting this year? Are you experimenting with any new varieties?

13 comments

  1. We’re still getting hard freezes, but the volunteer peas and onions have been up for a month. Already been digging up the dirt, but need to make another pass to extract more bindweed. Generally put in seeds about the first of May, and potatoes go in this week.

    Last year I experimented with about a dozen types of sweet corn. None can hold a candle to Burpee Yellow Triple Crown Hybrid (which despite the name, breeds true), tho if you need super-short-season corn, Sunglo Hybrid was ready in just 60 days, tho not quite as tender. Anyway this year I’m going to stagger plantings on my corn, since Triple Crown is only about 75 days to maturity and I get way too much all at once.

    I plant peas between corn rows — shades ’em so they produce 6-8 weeks longer in the heat than they normally would. At this point what I’ve got are random-hybrid snap and regular; bigger and more productive like snap, but sweeter like regular.

    My sister likes butternut squash, so got several kinds of seed to experiment with. Also found seeds for Libby-type “Pumpkin” (Dickenson squash, closer to a giant butternut) … didn’t know those were even available!

    Got a few fresh seed potatoes — Yukon Gold and Norland Red — being thoroughly sick of the hyper-productive grocery russets. Anyone want seed potatoes? I have spares. LOTS of spares.

    Will plant random mostly-sweet onions, since I lost my Sunion seeds to misadventure and will have to start some more for seed production.

    Tomatoes.. got two Early Girl and a VT100 cherry in pots, will start a few more from seed. Have not found timing makes any great difference; once it gets hot they all grow the same. And there will be the usual volunteers that don’t come up til June but end up just as productive (even tho I don’t water them). Always get way more than I can possibly use or even give away; maybe I should plant fewer tomatoes…

    Rhubarb is up and will be pickable by the end of the month.

    Lettuce here always bolts, but maybe I’ll try it in the corn shade and see if that helps.

    Carrots… why are they no longer as sweet and tender-crispy as I remember?? still haven’t found a really satisfactory variety.

    And apparently I need fresh zucchini seed, cuz last year was a zero. How do you manage to fail at zucchini??

  2. I’m not doing nearly as much food gardening as I used to; my back protests too much.
    I did plant hostas and Lily of the Valley starts. The hostas look like they’ll live but I dunno about those L of the V. My garden (1/4) acre has a lot stuffed into it.

    I’m thinking about adding another papaw tree to complement the one I already have. Fruit trees are so much happier when they have a partner to talk to. I might also see fruit which I am not.

    We’ll see what the hedgerow does this year. That was a mistake from year one because when I ripped out the forsythia, I should have planted Hicksii yews along that fence and been done with it. But I might finally have it functional for screening, windbreak, and wildlife habitat. Maybe.

    1. I planted Lily of the Valley… and for the first year, and the next year, it seemed to be dead or at least unresponsive. Finally started coming up the third year. Apparently it does NOT like being disturbed, including being planted.

      1. I didn’t know that! Thank you! I’ll let it go and see what happens.

        Surprise lilies are like that. They sulk for years after being divided and then suddenly the flowers reappear.

  3. I did some potatoes in a small raised bed, pole and bush beans in the same, and a lot of tomato plants in some fiber containers that I got though Amazon Vine … all green and lush and thriving, so far, now that spring is here. And – planted a lot of lettuce and edible greens in seeds through the same source. We’ll see how it goes. The potato greens and the beans are thriving, so far though…

  4. I got too optimistic and lost my first tomatoes to the Big Freeze. Replanted a couple of weeks ago, plus bell peppers, poblanos and eggplant. I transplanted my asparagus and it’s unhappy but throwing up a few little shoots. I’m experimenting with growing potatoes in bags.

  5. Planted pansies earlier. Now am heroically resisting the temptation in favor of petunias, million bells, and other such flowers that will survive high summer and bloom even in the fall. (Early spring is too soon to be thinking about fall flowers. Mid-spring is not.)

  6. Lost my herb plot to cold, but have made a small cold set. I grew 4 tomato plants inside, put them out two weeks ago, still have 3 of them.
    I am going to try 3 sisters in the raised bed this year. Half of the corn sprouted, replanted the other half. Will put in the green beans this weekend, watermelon in 2-3 weeks.

  7. I have too much shade for real food. Last year I tried potatoes. Fortunately, we didn’t have to rely on my attempts to feed us.

    I can grow some herbs. My thyme and parsley even overwintered! I thought the rosemary was going to make it, too, but it failed in the last couple weeks for no earthly reason.

    I am now turning my attention to feeding caterpillars and thus the birds by planting more natives. I’m about to plant Virginia bluebells, mountain mint, blue-eyed grass, and rhododendron. The native mint is designed to keep the deer from the native veronicastrum and viburnum. It’s a theory. I’m testing it.

    The rhodies are going in the back yard, which is fenced.

  8. I’m still at the “see what died” stage, although I have salvias and a few generic roses to stick into the obvious holes. The herbs will have to wait – our last freeze average is April 18, although this year I’d be twitchy until after May 1. No tomatoes unless they are in pots, because the one place that works for tomatoes . . . doesn’t work anymore. Redquarters is just not a great place for veggies because of the angle of the property and where the trees are.

  9. It’s not a plant but it is a permanent addition to the garden.
    The guy down the street is giving me plenty of former granite countertops so darling son is collecting it all and ‘planting’ it under the arch where nothing has ever grown. Too much foot traffic and too shady.
    Granite countertops will grow very nicely there.

  10. I’ve been expanding our garden ever since the weather started warming up in mid-March, following a plan I’d originally drawn out back in late January or early February, when I ordered my seeds. I need the exercise of digging if I’m going to shed the pounds I picked up this past winter.

    Last week I finally planted the snow peas and sugar snap peas, and this week I planted carrots, lettuce and radishes. Today I cleaned out the rhubarb bed, digging out a number of the weeds that have grown up in it. Then I loosened the soil that’s bare, and I planted some lettuce and radish seeds for ground cover. Last fall I’d figured I’d buy a couple more rhubarb roots this spring, but when I went in and saw the three-buck package now has only one root instead of the two it had last year (effectively 100% inflation), I decided to just wait until the roots get big enough that they need to be divided and let natural increase grow my rhubarb patch.

    The beans and other tender crops can’t be safely planted until the beginning of May, so I’m putting them in the new beds. This will give me some more time to get the ground dug deep enough and generally ready — but I’m already looking forward to having plenty of homegrown fresh vegetables this summer and fall. They’ll be a lot better than most of the stuff we’ve been subsisting on this winter, which seems to just go straight to gut and butt.

  11. One raised bed cleaned up; found a bunch of carrots that were made into soup. The other needed a new board, which is now stained and ready to go in – once the snow melts. Then some soil conditioning (it turned into clay) and peas go in. Front flower garden is pretty. Crocuses are long dead, but hyacinths, tulips, and daffodils are doing fine despite the intermittent snow. The lilacs have buds. Front pots are ready to go. Back yard beds need work – and have for two years, now, but wanting to sell is motivation. Inside has three flats of various things growing (tomatoes; potatoes – from seed, I’ve never done that before; peppers; broccoli; brussel sprouts; and various flowers for hanging baskets). I’ll probably end up buying (yet again) hanging flowers for the back yard, but we’ll see what happens with the seedlings.
    Almost another month before anything goes outside. “After Mother’s Day” is a good rule of thumb in Denver.
    This looks like another on-going task, doesn’t it? Perhaps a “garden” tag for my (really sparse, boring) new blog.

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