Letters to Gardening Friends, March 29, 2009

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.


  1. What a great idea. I thought I had a long list of plants that I wanted to grow. Maybe I should show Cheesehead your list and tell him to be thankful. LOL.

  2. This is cool. I find the local/global aspect of garden blogs really interesting.

  3. Hi Carol, it sounds like you are on top of the game here, but that is hardly a surprise, for we consider you to be Ms. Efficiency. That is a compliment. :-) That is really a lot of seeds. Do you ever just plant one seed of each thing? Well maybe two in case something happens to the one? How else could you possible fit all of that into your space? Glad to hear the good progress report on the light system too.

  4. Oh, I just Loooove henbit! It is a constant source of "something to do" in my garden, right along with the bluets, the creeping charley, and the plantain. What would we do without weeds?

    Sounds like you're going to have a wonderful variety of stuff to eat coming out of your garden, and very soon, too.

  5. Carol, I am inspired by your seed collection. I probably have twice the room and half the seeds. Your organization skills are great too. The henbit picture is priceless. We have a lot of it here too. Enjoy the Pacers. I hope they win.~~Dee

  6. Looks like you've got it covered Carol! I'll be looking forward to seeing where you plant it all.

    I'm enjoying your group letter-writing project. What fun!

  7. I was thinking I had henbit, but my flowers are tiny, blue, and round, like a daisy. I had a bumper crop of purslane last year.

    My lettuce under my row cover is growing well. It looks like the radishes didn't make it. They were up, but now are not there. It's supposed to get down to 19 one night this week. I may have to put a tarp over the cover.

    I hope we find spaces for all our seeds and seedlings!

  8. Carol,
    It certainly is very interesting to me to hear the progress of your garden this way. You have this thing down to a science and I am learning from you all the way. I'm surprised to hear you haven't grown carrots in several years. I just love their sweet flavor right out of the ground.
    I made my first salad this week from "little gem" lettuce planted in February. It was very tasty!
    Meems @ Hoe and Shovel

  9. With 92 different varieties of seeds, you really do need to make lists and have a spreadsheet. So the purple-flowered stuff is Henbane? I wonder if I have any here. The only weeds I've been pulling so far have been dandelions, wild strawberries and Maple seedlings.

  10. It sounds like your going to have a wonderful garden this year.I have a great selection of heirloom seeds.I have enjoyed them for years.

  11. As I juggle my few trays of seedlings around trying to make sure they all get enough light, I think "what if I had planted 92 packets of seeds??" But then I remember your nifty shelf system for your seedlings, and I understand. I still want to see how you fit them all into your garden, though, Carol:)

  12. What is a row cover? Some critter is eating my spinach and I want it to stop. :-(

  13. I was sad to wake up to frost on the ground this morning. I'm hoping it won't do too much damage to the blooming flowers and the buds.
    The lilac buds are so tiny, but I can tell that they will be beautiful soon!

  14. hen bit and wild onion are things I never get rid of. But now I know "All the best gardeners are growing it this year."


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