Monday, February 20, 2012

The Garden Plot

It isn't the biggest thing going on in my life right now, but it is far and away my favorite.
My seed order has been placed at Seed Savers and I am eagerly awaiting my little vegetative babies.

The garden last year was a mixed bag. It never truly got hot - much like this winter never really arrived - and the cool dampness was unfriendly to my tomatoes. And peppers. Oh, and the beans.
I had lettuce the entire summer, however, and my dragon carrots were works of art.
The squash beetles were total bastards.

This year must be bigger! Better! Different!
I must utilize every inch of my 800 square feet of heaven!

The first thing I did was completely remove squash from the garden plan. The 36 square feet set aside for each plant was just too much. The pumpkins from our first summer showed me the importance of this space, but think of how many tomato plants I can stick in that amount of space!
A shelf loaded with quarts of tomato sauce is far more appealing to me than a dozen bags of frozen pumpkin puree, especially since I still have those left from last year.
Side note: fresh pumpkin makes far superior pumpkin cookies, but the pie is a bit touchy.
The second thing I did was specifically chose varietals that were either developed in my zone (ish) or stated they were particularly cool-season friendly. Another word I liked to see was "early."

The plants I particularly loved from last year will make a return, although in a slightly different part of my garden patch. I don't like to grow the same thing in the same spot, with a few notable exceptions: the carrots get the furthest-south spot in the garden, as they are short enough to not block the light for anything else. Anything particularly tall gets moved off to the west or north. The lettuce patch is permanently set on the west side of the shed, to limit it's sunlight and keep the ground cooler; I suspect that contributed to the longevity of my lettuces last summer. The asparagus patch, of course, it stationary.

I have all my supplies. I have my pots and my lights and my shelves and this list could go on for awhile if I don't stop now. I put off ordering my seeds because if I start my plants too early I risk putting them in the ground too early.
Two years ago, it froze on Memorial Day.
Memorial Day!
I can't in good conscience put my tomatoes in the ground before June. Starting the seeds in March is too much torture; I make myself wait until April.

The desire to go out and start working the soil - although it is February in New England - got the better of me today. I grabbed a mulch rake and freed the crocus from last fall's weed remnants.  The yellows have all bloomed, much like last year, while the purples have barely cleared the mulch.  I was thrilled when I first saw them last week, as it means the forsythia isn't far behind.

Brian and I have plans for the south side of the house, particularly the patches on either side of the bulkhead.  It is the best southern exposure I have yet unclaimed, and I want to make good use of it. The tiger lillies Brian was championing claim to be partial-shade, and I can plant those in dozens of places in the yard. My only full-sun spot needs to be full of full-sun flowers. More thought is needed.

It is still too early to get a verdict on the critter-eaten hydrangeas or the come on I WANT you to be invasive Morning glories. I have hope.

I need to invest in either updating one of my many photo sites or just scrapping them and starting over again. Once the world goes green I will have many many many photos to share.

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