Hello again! Gardening season is back in full force, and I’m so excited to share with you what has been happening in my back yard! I shared with you a few weeks ago that I had the beets, carrots and radishes out, but since then I’ve finished my early spring vegetables! I set out my peas on March 28th, then stopped to buy onion sets and cauliflower on my way home from my Mom’s retirement party in Central IL, which I got planted on April 1st.
This past weekend I finished off the garden by sowing the seed for kale, lettuce and spinach, plus I put some Arugula seeds in a large pot that I used last year for tomatoes. Now I get to sit back and watch for sprouts! I also put together a little slideshow for you of my raised bed garden after the onion and cauliflower plantings went in:
In the meantime, I thought I’d share with you how I organize and schedule my plantings! Since different veggies have different planting times, and those cool weather, early spring veggies can be planted again for fall, I decided to create a little table that would work as a cheat sheet for me so I wouldn’t have to keep looking it up each month to see what I would need to plant. You can see this table to the right.
I was just a little late on the onions, mostly because I was procrastinating on stopping by the store for onion sets! But I still had them out on April 1st. I also decided to grow some cauliflower this year, which wasn’t on my list, but if they do well I will likely add them to grow again next year. My strawberries were planted last year, which means this year will be the first year I get to harvest them, and I’ll have three more years before I need to plant more. Strawberry plants are usually good for about five years–including the first year, in which you pinch off the blooms and don’t allow the plants to produce berries.
On year five I will add some new plantings, pinching off the buds. That way when the next year comes around and the original plants start to die out, I will have a crop of plants ready to go and produce, and will then need to replace the other half of the plants that have died out by year six. With this rotation I will never have to start all over again and go one full year with no berries.
I also have one caveat to my table, as well. For the green beans, last year I started staggering them. So in mid-April I will put out a couple of rows, then do a couple more rows in early May, and finally the last couple of rows in late May. That way I will have a more consistent supply of green beans that will produce for longer, without flooding me with a huge crop of green beans all at once that I can’t use as quickly as they’re ready to pick!
As for my Watermelon and Pumpkins–last year I tried growing these on the upper level of my back yard above my retaining wall, but they didn’t get enough sun to grow…at all! So this year, since I’m building an enclosed raised bed for my tomatoes, I’m using the pots I grew my tomatoes in last year to try growing the pumpkins and watermelons a little differently. I’ve never done container gardening for these type of plants, but I figure the vines will spread out over the side and grow wherever they want, and this way I can make sure they stay sufficiently in the sun!
This will be my third gardening season at my house and I feel like I’m still experimenting quite a bit. I’ve gardened my entire life, but I’ve always lived somewhere with a large, sunny yard with an endless supply of prime garden locations. This house, however, has proven to be a challenge because of the large, mature trees in my neighborhood. The last two seasons, between the shade and the squirrels, my gardening struggled. However, this year my crab apple tree is gone and the neighbors directly behind me cut down one tree and drastically cut back another, so I’m hoping that this year’s garden will be a success!
I’ve also moved from trying to container garden, to doing a raised bed garden right at the back of my house. As I was planting onions, there was a ton of sun shining on me at 6:00 in the evening. Granted there aren’t any leaves on the trees just yet, so I’m not sure how that will change things…but it definitely showed a lot of promise, as that area starts to get sun around noon, so it should be able to get the minimum of six hours of direct sunlight that a garden needs. That is also the part of the yard that seemed to get sun the latest in the evening before being cast into shadow.
Something else I did new this year, was add a place in my notebook for gardening! I have a little section for each plant, so I can keep track of when I planted, when I first saw sprouts or significant changes, when they flower or start to produce vegetables, and when they’re harvested, as well as document any complications I might have to help me for next year’s garden planning. Here is how I did it:
I will update this, and update you, as the gardening season progresses. The next big project will be building my enclosed tomato bed. I’ve never built anything quite like this–nothing that required cutting lumber with a saw–so it could get interesting! Luckily I have my son, Logan, who loves to build, and a friend on standby if I run into trouble! So please stay tuned 🙂