The windy weather nearly kept me from heading out to my garden today to sketch in more detail what should go where, and then actually sow the cool weather season vegetable plants. But my Sunday afternoon remained free so I forced myself to get out there. I did so partially to get the work done and partially to keep the promise made in yesterday’s post.
So take a gander at the sketch above and tell me what you think. (A new and improved garden sketch is at the bottom of this post, in recognition of the help I received from friends about how to tweak the garden use for the better.)
(Thus far, three commenters have helped me change my garden layout: reduce the number of zucchinis by relegating them to the far end beds; put two rows of tomatoes in the bed that where one row currently is; move the eggplants next to the pole beans; and take out some or most of the kale and replace it with peppers. Another commenter gave a great idea, but I know the squirrels in my area, and they love winter squash; squash rarely makes it to my kitchen because of them.)
Each of the large beds is 3′ wide x 12′ long x 2′ deep. The smaller bed is only 6′ long, but the other dimensions stay the same. There’s enough space between the raised beds and the hardware cloth fence as well as each of the beds to fit a small wheelbarrow through. (Sometimes soil and tools need to find their way from one part of the garden to the other.)
I practice a number of methods each season. Companion planting is one. Trellising is another — the thin two lines in each large raised bed are trellises that reach roughly four feet high. And, of course, I use only heirloom and open-pollenated seeds.
There are other methods dictated upon nature. That is, unless you have a greenhouse. Don’t plant too early, or you run the risk of killing your plants or seedlings is one of those rules. And this, as I noted yesterday, is where I am willing to take risks. Once the soil in my raised beds is workable, I check the 10-day forecast. Using a bit of reason (and the insurance that most seed companies send you far more seeds than you need for one planting) I get my cool-weather season vegetable plants in the soil as soon as possible.
And for warm weather veggies, I get most of them started in my basement when the snow is still on the ground. My tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants (along with a few other veggies) sit under florescent bulbs for the first several weeks of their lives. But, again within reason, I check the 10-day forecast rather than obeying a frost date that is an estimate. That said I have insurance here as well. Half my seedlings stay in the basement if I’m guessing a really early start.
My gardening and garden phases start earlier than common knowledge dictates for several reasons. First, I just honestly love gardening. I love to see seeds become seedlings and then adult vegetable plants. Second, I’m rather geeky about taking pictures of the produce in or coming out of my garden. (Want to see some of my favorites?) Third, I think city folk need to know more about food production and participate in it. And, as I freely admit, I suffer from Anxiety (yes, I meant to capitalize the “A.”) I find that gardening mends my anxious mind: from planting, to weeding, to taking pictures, to harvesting.
So what did I plant today, you ask? I planted four varieties of lettuce, two varieties of spinach, and some arugula. I got soil under my fingernails too. Each pea seed found itself pressed about an inch into the ground. I scattered a variety of cabbage that looks more like kale. (I learned from last year: no kale.) Two varieties of carrots line where tomatoes will find themselves in a month or so. And I planted a lot of Red Orach, one of my favorite plants. Orach makes for a great spinach-like leaf, only more citrusy. I love it on a cheese sandwich.
So how’s that for an afternoon? And, hey, remember to comment on my sketch. Ask questions. Or tell me how you prepare for the season.