|Behind the fence, the forsythia is just coming into bloom.|
To get the most out of my space, I plan carefully each year beginning with a rough sketch. I try to group vegetables of the same family together then follow a four-year rotation. I rotate the crops to avoid diseases. This is especially important with crops in the tomato and brassica (cabbage) family. I don't plant large amounts of anything, preferring to have a variety, with just enough for H.H. and me. There is always a small surplus for the neighbors and the local food bank. I plant enough beets for canning, and I freeze tomatoes, rhubarb, and make freezer pickles. Here is my 2013 garden bed planner ...
Each year, I purchase a couple of tomato plants and some sweet peppers, but the rest I grow from seed. I start a few seeds indoors and sow the majority directly into the ground. Timing is everything, so I don't rely completely on ancient lore. You need to know the last freeze/frost date for your area, so call the local Cooperative Extension office, or you can go to Dave's Garden to calculate the last frost/first freeze dates by your zip code. The last freeze/frost date in my area is May 23, but can be as late as June 10. The first frost is October 5, but can be as early as September 12. This gives me a frost-free growing season of around 123 days -- not very long, is it? I use a chart to determine seed-starting dates. For example, peas can be direct-seeded into the garden 4-6 weeks before the last spring frost (which is this week), and beans two weeks after the last spring frost. It is really not complicated although I was a bit overwhelmed when I started, but now I use the same chart every year.
|I have two deep boxes now, for root vegetables such as parsnips.|
|I mulched all the beds and set up the pea tunnel and cucumber frame before sowing seeds.|
It is important to prepare your garden beds before you buy your plants. I prepared mine last weekend. I loosened the soil with a shovel then added several inches of compost. I will use a square-foot garden grid in some of the beds to help me with seed-spacing. The snowpeas are in the ground on each side of the pea tunnel, and lettuce planted underneath the tunnel. I put a set of onions along the south side of the shed. I sowed a row of spinach, also. I have started cabbage and broccoli indoors. Next time I'll show you my seed-starting setup.
H.H. and his brother-in-law are insulating the potting shed. I want to take advantage of solar heat with the green-house-type window. I am hoping the temperature inside the shed will stay above freezing overnight without using a heater. I hope it is ready for when my seeds need to go outside.
|Insulation in progress|
In the meantime, I am enjoying the spring plants in bloom at last: especially primroses, hellebores, and pulmonaria.
The phoebe returned to my garden a week ago -- didn't get a picture yet. All the frogs are awake in the pond, including the big bullfrog.
|Nessie our bullfrog is a 'monster'.|
There are lots of frogs' eggs.
Must close now and get back to work. This is my busiest time and I love it!
|The Potting Shed, 2011|
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