It’s Day One here in the vegetable gardens at May Dreams Gardens where I’ve met my first goal for the vegetable garden by planting my peas ‘around’ St. Patrick’s Day. I planted them today.
I also planted lettuce, spinach, radishes, beets, onions, turnips, and swiss chard today.
And then I covered it all up with some garden cloth so that the rabbits won’t eat everything as soon as it germinates.
I expect my battle with the rabbits for domination of the vegetable garden to continue this year. I saw a big fat bunny in the front yard the other day and noticed a few tulip leaves have been nibbled on.
And I think I have a rabbit living here, in this hole.
This hole in the center of the vegetable garden.
When I was planting the garden earlier today, Mrs. Rabbit, or whoever lives in this hole, wasn’t home. I might be a gardening fool because I left that little warren alone, if indeed that is what is is.
I’m definitely a gardening geek because before I planted my peas, I checked the temperature of the soil, with a soil thermometer. Open wide, earth of the garden...For those just getting started with vegetable gardening, I assure you that checking the temperature of the soil isn’t really necessary. I just happened to have a soil thermometer and decided to use it today, for once.
The soil temperature was right at 45 F, which is the minimum temperature for planting peas, so Let’s Plant.
I got to use some garden tools today!
A rake and a hoe, my hand rake, my new Cobrahead hand hoe, a yard stick, gloves, a seed apron and scissors.
Wait, skip the gloves. I never used them. You can NOT sow seeds with gloves on.
Also included in the picture are three bags of onion sets and the seeds (in the seed apron pocket), and seed labels already written out (also in the seed apron pocket).
Oh, and I had my Felco pruners with me because I always have them at my side in a holster when I go out to the garden. In fact, it is nearly automatic that when I go outside to the garden through the garage, I grab my pruners, which are right there by the door into the house, and clip the holster onto the side pocket of my jeans.
One of these days, I am going to get to work, look down, and see that I am wearing my holster with pruners. I hope not. At least I get to work early enough that I could take the holster off and hopefully, no one would notice.
Here’s the first bed I prepared.
I used the hoe to loosen up the soil, then I raked it smooth with the rake. Now you see why I brought the yardstick along. It isn’t so much to measure out how far apart to space the seeds, though you can use it for that, but more to make a nice little furrow for sowing the seeds.
I can usually just guesstimate on spacing after all these years of sowing seeds, but if you are unsure, use a yardstick.
You can also see that I use labels to note the varieties of what I am planting. That’s just my preference. You can also make a map of the garden and keep track of what and where you planted that way.
Here’s a row of onions ready to be covered over.
That onion spacing is easy to figure out. I plant onion sets nice and tight in the rows. Then the first harvest will be what we call the spring onions. I’ll pull enough onions when they are still small to leave about three inches between the remaining onions. Those remaining onions will continue to grow and can be harvested late in the season, dried in the sun for a day or so, and then kept for use most of the winter.
I planted the onions, three rows of them, across the first bed you see when you walk into the garden because I read somewhere that rabbits don’t like onions. So this was my way of telling all the rabbits that they are not welcome in the vegetable garden at May Dreams Gardens.
By the way, did you notice those diagonal rows in that first bed shown above? Isn’t that fancy? One of my other my goals for the garden this year is to mix it up and not just plant straight rows, parallel to the sides of the beds, which is what I usually do.
I also have a goal of doing more succession planting, and so some of the rows are only planted halfway. I’ll come back in a few weeks and plant out the other half of those rows to extend my harvest.
For all you new gardeners, and some old gardeners, too, now you can see the advantage of raised bed gardens. Yesterday was a drizzly wet day around here so it would not be possible to till up and plant a spring garden right now. But because the raised beds dry up and warm up faster than an untilled garden, I was able to plant today.
I think it will probably be a few more weeks before it is dry enough to till the soil without messing it all with clumping, etc. if that is the kind of garden you have.
By the way, the best time to prepare a vegetable garden with raised beds for planting is in the fall!
Also for you new gardeners, I goofed up on something today when I was sowing seeds. In one of my beds, I planted some beet seeds and then a few minutes later I planted some turnip seeds right in the same area. (Keep your discussions about "senior moments" to yourselves, please.) It will be interesting to see how that all turns out and if I can tell turnip greens from beet leaves.
I only confess to this so that if you make a mistake or two sowing seeds in your garden, you’ll know that it happens to all of us every once in a while.
So now that I’ve planted the early spring crops in the vegetable garden, I can figure out probable harvest dates.
Here are my predictions on my first harvest dates this spring:
Swiss Chard, Mixed Colors, 30 – 60 days, April 14th - May 15th
Turnip Greens, Topper, 35 days – April 19th
Radish, German Giant, 37 days, April 21st
Radish, Pinetree Mix, no days to harvest listed on the pkg., I’ll guess April 21st
Lettuce, Pinetree Mix, 40 days, April 24th
Spinach, Bloomsdale Longstanding, 42 days - April 26th
Green Onions, doesn’t really say so I’ll guess April 30th
Lettuce, Red Velvet, 47 days, May 1st
Lettuce, Specked, no days to harvest listed on the package, this will be a mystery!
Lettuce, Tom Thumb, 47 days, May 1st
Beets, Early Wonder, 50 days, May 4th
Turnip, White Globe, 58 days, May 12th
And finally, the last of the early spring vegetables…
Peas, Green Arrow, 63 days, May 17th
I think I’ll throw a big Pea Party when I harvest the peas and invite everyone to come and eat some! Wait, check that. I only planted the equivalent of an eight foot row so let’s just not tell anyone when I am likely to have peas to harvest and I’ll eat those myself.
How’s your vegetable garden coming along?