Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Gardening 2010

I began the new gardening season at the beginning of the month while the last snowstorm was melting away and the garden was buried under several inches of slush. Last year I had made some notes at the beginning of March (that I never followed up on) that were helpful in planning this year's adventures. I also had a list in my head of things that seem to be working and stuff that I just want to try.

Last spring I noted in a book the dates when the first seeds went in the ground (March 9, 2009) and the location of the crops in the plot. Although I am interested in the concept of crop rotation, it is just too hard to do that in my tiny little garden. I always want to plant tall and hungry tomatoes. I will always begin the season with peas on the big trellis. Sunflowers are just too pretty and beneficial to pass up. More than anything, my garden planning is a careful orchestration of space and the path of the sun. I am lucky to have a great position in the community garden in terms of light: I get it morning, noon, and night in the spring, summer, and fall. Still, I will not make the same mistake I made the first year when some huge cherry tomato plants shaded the entire plot by mid July. My tomato plants will again be in the southeast corner of the plot and I made sure to heavily compost that area last fall in anticipation of their arrival.

Surprisingly I did get some seeds in the ground the same day this year as last: March 9. We had some beautiful weather last week with temperatures in the low 60s. I picked up a packet of English peas ("prolific yields" it said) and planted half a row under the trellis. Last year my early planting was a gamble and I was a little cautious this year, choosing to stagger my plantings under the trellis. I also planted a row of green leaf lettuce on the west side of the plot. I will go back this weekend, finish the pea row, add another row of lettuce, and begin the sowing season for real.

Getting back to that plan I put together way back when we still had snow on the ground, I am scheduled to begin serious gardening mid March. That means now! I drew up a schedule first of desired harvest dates and then a corresponding schedule for planting dates. It is always difficult to have things constantly in the picking stage. Last year I had a gap in July partly due to the very wet spring but also because of poor planning. The tomato plants went in late. The beans had already peaked. I was persisting with a waning chard and kale crop that should have been pulled. This year the word to know is succession planting. When the lettuce is done, the next crop goes in. When the bush beans are getting bushy, new bean plants should be started. When the peas are reaching up the trellis, cucumber and squash seeds must be sown. If I stick to my schedule and the weather is reasonably cooperative, I should be enjoying fresh produce throughout the season.

This weekend I will sow: red leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce, peas, radish, 2 varieties of carrot, beets, and spinach. I am working around a green cabbage plant that wintered over, 3 chinese cabbages that wintered over, and garlic that I planted around the south and west perimeters last fall.

I will have images next post and probably an amended list of what went in the ground.

Share with us what you have planted indoors and out! We all want to know!

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