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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Vegetable Garden Update: Day One

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?

25 comments:

Diana said...

Wow - Carol - I am impressed with every facet of your garden -- all the lovely raised beds and the rows and the diagonal rows, especially! Fancy Schmancy. I will be there for the pea party, since you've already spilled the "peas" as it were! I put strawberries, poblano and bell peppers, mustard greens and a tomato in this weekend. It was very gusty, so I decided to delay the rest of the tomatoes for a later day - they were getting whipped around too much. Keep us posted!

Cabs said...

Great post. Lots of good detail and nice pictures too. I like the bed done on the diagonal! Will you do any squiggles or spirals? lol :-) Thanks for sharing your senior moment. Makes many of us feel just a little more "normal" I'm sure.
Carol

Surya said...

I'm happy for you that you can eat peas, lettuce, spinach, radishes, beets, onions, turnips, and swiss chard from your own garden. Goodluck..

Kathy said...

I planted peas, lettuce and radishes last Thursday. Now the rabbit wars commence. I need to go buy some more row covers, as I don't have enough to cover everything this year.
Kathy, the older sister

Corinna said...

What a well-organized vegetable patch! I haven't even got around to weeding mine.
As to your "senior moments" -- I just noticed that I had one of mine last fall when I planted heuchera "Chocolate Ruffles" right on top of a blue anemone which is fighting its way up ...

Lisa at Greenbow said...

My vegetable garden is only in my mind. Just seeing your wonderful raised beds makes me itch and twitch for such a garden.

Kathy said...

I was wondering what kind of boards you used to make your raised beds. Pine? Cedar?

Frances, said...

Your plan sounds like a feast for the eyes as well as the tummy! I like your diagonal, way to mix it up! We have radishes, lettuce, spinach and sugar snap peas up outside. Garlic was planted last fall and looks good, onion sets and the onion seedlings from the greenhouse are in and up, ringing the whole area as a message to the rabbits, like you, go away!

Frances at Faire Garden

beckie said...

Wow! What a lot you accomplished! Makes some of us seem lax by comparision. But Good for you. As the 'little red hen' you should enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Dave said...

You had a busy weekend! I was still out leveling my beds. I started filling two of them but need to get dirt and compost to finish them up. I did plant two blueberry bushes though! That was a great idea on the succession planting! You talking about having a holster brought an image to my mind of some sort of a garden Rambo on the prowl among the raised beds!

Nicole said...

You can definitely tell turnip greens from beet leaves-both the shape and smell and taste are different-even in baby leaf size. I love beet microgreens/baby leaves-they taste just like beets!
Congrats on all the hard work and many delicious rewards to reap.

Brenda Kula said...

Well, I'm a little reluctant, after seeing your photos, of admitting that I just "mixed it up in the garden seed planting department" today. I set out to label everything and write it all down in a notebook. But weariness got the better of me. I'm envious of your garden practices!
Brenda

Hanneles Paradies said...

We haven't any vegetables.. only berries and fruits.

Annie in Austin said...

Holy cow! Your garden technique is impressive, Carol! I now imagine you out there with holster strapped on and yardstick at the ready, scribing the diagonals like Colonel Travis marking the ground with his sword at the Alamo.
Oops...guess I've been in Texas a long, long time.

My one row of radishes are up but the little pepper and tomato plants are in the garage, safe from the predicted high winds and flash flooding from a possible 3-4 inches of rain overnight. The bed is raised so maybe the radishes won't drown.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Sherry at the Zoo said...

Wow! I'm impressed! Hey, since I have other things going on this week, why don't you hop on over to the homestead and do some more plantin' there?

mss @ Zanthan Gardens said...

I don't know how you manage it all. Get all this planting done. Host the GBBD. Field 70+ comments and then go and look at each site and leave a comment there, too. Then put up a summary. Message back and forth on Twitter. And go to ball games. Oh, yeah...and you work for a living, too.

Do you ever sleep?

I think you are going to laugh hysterically when you see what passes for a vegetable garden at my house. However, we have been enjoying a lot of salads recently. Unfortunately, the cilantro is bolting so tonight's "lamb, cauliflower, and coriander stew" is probably the last time we'll get to eat any for this year.

Carol said...

Diana, it sounds like your garden has a lot in it to eat, too!

Cabs, funny you should mention a swirl or spiral. I was actually thinking about doing that, but couldn't think how to easily make a nice, neat spiral. But later it came to me, so I still might!

Surya, Thank you, I feel very fortunate to have fresh veggies to eat in the summer.

Kathy, the older sister, Yes, Thursday was a beautiful day to work in the garden. Let the rabbit wars begin.

Corinna, We should all share those "senior moments" so younger gardeners will know what they have to look forward to it.

Lisa at Greenbow, You've got some sun in your backyard now, what's keeping you from growing vegetables? Give in to that itch!

Kathy, I used cedar boards. I noticed that a couple of them will probably need to be replaced in a few years.

Frances, I hope the onions work to keep the rabbits out of your garden, too.

Beckie, I do enjoy the "fruits of my labor" first, then give away the rest.

Dave, You gotta get going, the season has started!

Nicole, I have a book that shows pictures of seedlings so I'll look up beets and turnips to make sure I know what they look like.

Brenda Kula, Quick, before you forget, go out and label your plants in the garden or draw a map!

Hanneles paradies, I wish I did have more fruits and berries. I do grow strawberries and have one apple tree.

Annie in Austin, We are supposed to get quite a bit of rain, too. Those row covers ought to keep the seeds from being washed away.

Sherry at the Zoo, You know I would, but I just could not DENY you the PLEASURE of planting your own garden, plus it is supposed to rain most of the week and will be too wet outside.

MSS @ Zanthan Gardens, Did you ever hear the saying "If you want something done, give it to a busy person"? I promise not to laugh at your vegetable garden!

Thanks all for the nice comments and compliments,
Carol, May Dreams Gardens

Meems said...

Carol, This was a most helpful post. I am wondering how is it right that you are sowing seeds in Indiana and I am just now sowing seeds in Florida? I must be late.

I had to chuckle at the beets and turnips sown in the same area... I can easily see that being done. Just curious-- how long will you leave the cover over your bed?

I'm going to try the succession planting with my green beans. I left a row empty for it.

I am SO grateful for your blog with all the great information and step by step information. Thanks for keeping the newbies in mind when explaining your gardening. It is extremely helpful. You are an inspiration!
Meems @HoeandShovel

Nancy J. Bond said...

A lot of work, but the rewards will be worth it! Good luck with the bunny/-ies!

kathryn/plantwhateverbringsyoujoy.com said...

Wow, Carol! Awesome! You *are* a bunny! :) I love the diagonal row. Glad you explained. As for my garden, I'm a little perplexed because I have chard a foot high and the arugula has taken over half of where I normally grow veges and it's bolted already. I just stand there and go, "Huh." I'm not sure what I will do about it. For sure tomatoes. And I think I will plant pumpkins again as they can just take off and there is plenty of room...

rees cowden said...

Wow, You sure like you've been busy. Once those seeds begin to sprout be on the lookout for slugs and snails......and keep things wet!!!

lisa said...

You're so organized, I say a "senior moment" here and there is perfectly acceptable! ;-) I love that diagonal row...I bet a spiral would be really cool, too...you could even spiral a bunch of different lettuces together in a swirly "maze", and then harvesting would probably add a "3D" quality to it.

Debbie said...

Great job, Carol! Everything looks great. We are a still a bit away from planting as we still have snow/ice soggy ground and any combination of those. It is nice to see that things are moving along somewhere in the gardening world.

friary said...

Carol,
My first thought when I saw those onion sets crushed together was - they're way to close! But I like the idea of thinning as they grow so you get a succession of size and uses. I've loads of red sets this year so I'll try this out with one line.

Vegetable garden said...

Is your first pic at the top. Is it one foot or two square feet.