This is the fourth letter in a weekly series of letters that I’m exchanging with Dee from Red Dirt Ramblings in Oklahoma (zone 7a) and Mary Ann, the Idaho Gardener in Idaho (zone 6) to highlight the differences and similarities in how we garden and grow vegetables.
We encourage others to do the same, and this week are pleased that Jodi from Bloomingwriter in Canada and Sylvia in England have started exchanging letters in a series they’ve called Letters Across the Pond.
Dear Dee and Mary Ann
Greetings from May Dreams Gardens. Today is one of those cold, rainy days that makes it much easier to stand at the window and just look out at the garden rather than go out and try to do anything in it. But as crummy as my weather is, I’ll take it over the weather you’ve been having, Dee. And what are these rumors I hear, Mary Ann, that you've finally had some decent weather and have been out planting?
Out in my garden, all the seeds I sowed on St. Patrick’s Day are starting to germinate and I’m seeing bits of green in the different rows of lettuces and radishes, and the tiniest sprouts of peas breaking through. I promised myself I was going to do better at succession planting this year, so this coming week, once the weather improves, I’m going to sow more seeds for lettuces and radishes.
Then I’ll bring out the row covers and cover everything up to keep out the rabbits and birds and other critters that have the mistaken idea that I plant the garden for them. It’s not for them! The 492 square feet of raised beds in my vegetable garden is for me and anyone I choose to give the extra harvest to. All mine! (Imagine an evil laugh right there.) But there will be extras to share, I’m sure.
I'm starting to get a reputation in both my real life and online for being a 'seedy gardener' who has purchased a lot of seeds this year. I guess I have acquired quite a few packets of seed, 92 in all. People do wonder and ask what I’m going to do with all the produce from the garden, and then they wonder where I’m going to plant it all, and sometimes I do, too.
But then I remind them that I plant small quantities of a lot of varieties, and not all of those seeds are for vegetables, some are for flowers like zinnias, marigolds, sunflowers, and nasturtiums.
My first rows of lettuce and radishes were only two feet long for each variety, and I’ll plant another two feet of each this week. Since I have eight varieties of lettuce, that’s equivalent to two rows, each sixteen feet long. That’s not really that much lettuce, is it?
Inside, the tomatoes are starting to show their first true leaves, and the peppers and eggplant aren’t far behind. I was concerned about the germination of the ‘German Johnson’ tomato, but those seeds finally germinated, too, so all is good inside.
Now I just need to water, fertilize, keep the lights going, and baby them along until mid to late May when they go out into the garden. But I don’t like to baby them too much! They need to be tough little plants when they finally go outside.
I just looked ahead at the weather forecast and this week looks to be “seasonable” in my zone 5 garden, which means high temperatures will be in the upper 50’s and lower 60's and we aren’t likely to see any frost, but we have rain in the forecast for several days. It should be a good week for pulling weeds and continuing overall garden clean up.
I do have a lot of henbit to pull out. Henbit torments me in the spring the way purslane torments me in late June. This spring, especially, it seems to be growing everywhere and has started to bloom. I need to pull it before it sets seed.
I've enclosed a picture of the henbit because it does look kind of pretty, doesn't it? Truly, it's just a flower growing in the wrong place. But my goal for the week is to eradicate it from the garden, one handful at a time.
Here's hoping we all have good weeks in our gardens, with sunny skies and a bit of rain when we need it.
Veggies and flowers to all,
P.S. Would you be interested in the entire list of seeds I’ve purchased for the vegetable garden? I’ve included it below. Where am I going to plant it all?
Beans - ‘Bountiful', ‘Goldrush’, ‘Provider’ (this is one of my favorites!), 'Straight N Narrow’
Beets - ‘Chicago Red Hybrid’
Bok Choy - 'White Stem’
Carrots - ‘Little Finger’ – it’s been several years since I tried to grow carrots
Corn - ‘Honey Select’ and ‘Spring Treat’ - I don't think I have room for both, but I'm going to try to fit both in somehow!
Cucumber - 'Homemade Pickles’ and ‘Spacemaster’
Eggplant - ‘Black Beauty’ (an old favorite), ‘Dusky’, 'Long Purple’, ‘Thai Yellow Egg’
Lettuce - ‘De Morges Braun’, ‘May Queen’, ‘Mereveille Des Quatre Saisons’, ‘Pinetree Mix’, ‘Tom Thumb’, ‘Big Boston’, 'Matina Sweet'
Lettuce Mesclun - 'Gourmet Baby Greens’ – I might also try a pot of these on my patio.
Lima Bean - ‘Baby Fordhook’
Onion - ‘Evergreen Bunching’ – plus I planted out onion sets in the garden.
Parsnip - 'Harris Model’
Peas - ‘Snowbird’ (edible pods) and ‘Green Arrow’
Peppers - ‘Anaheim’, 'Big Bertha’, ‘California Wonder’, ‘Early Jalapeno’, ‘Hungarian Yellow Wax’, ‘Jalapeno M’, ‘Maxibelle’, ‘Poblano’, ‘Sweet Banana’, 'Sweet Mix’
Radish - 'Cherry Belle’, ’French Breakfast’, ‘Salad Rose’, ‘Watermelon’
Spinach - ‘Bloomsdale Long Standing’
Squash - ‘Cocozelle’, ‘Cue Ball’, ‘Eightball’, ‘Horn of Plenty’, ‘Lolita’, ‘One Ball’, ‘Spaghetti’
Turnip - 'Golden Ball'
And the Royal Family of the Garden… the Tomatoes
‘Ace’, ‘Aunt Anna’, ‘Beefsteak’, ‘Black Cherry’, ‘Cherokee Purple’, 'Fireworks’, ‘German Johnson’, 'Gold Nugget’, ‘Illini Star’, 'Kentucky Beefsteak’, ‘Persimmon’, ‘Pink Oxheart’, ‘Red Currant’, ‘San Marzano’, ‘Super Beefsteak’
If you see something missing from my list that you think I should try, let me know. It’s not too late to add a few more varieties, since I’m in this deep already.
P.S.S. I ended up with an extra packet of seeds for Eggplant ‘Long Purple’. Do you know of anyone who could use them? Have them leave me a comment.
P.S.S.S. Dang, I was adjusting a light timer in the sun room and bumped into a little antique plant stand. I knocked it over and the top came off. Better end this letter, finally, and go clean up the mess I just made.