Monday, April 3, 2017

Planning the 2017 Kitchen Garden

 I began planning this year's kitchen garden in my head weeks ago. I ordered new seeds in January, but didn't put my ideas down on paper. Before I get to work, however, I must tour the garden to look for signs of the season. Following a mild winter, spring started early, then an unexpected cold spell followed by winter storm Stella put everything on hold. As a result, my spring bulbs are blooming later than last year. My most abundant blooms today are the crocuses. I have every color, so it's difficult to choose a favorite. I do love the deep purple and the white, however the bicolor in the picture above is my best loved today. 

Purple and white crocus in the Woodland Walk and under the crabapple tree.

I wrote about crocuses in 2010. This is what I said:
Since I was a child in England, I have loved Cicely Mary Barker’s Flower Fairies books. Her water-color illustrations and verses are delightful. “The Song of the Crocus Fairy” is the first poem in Flower Fairies of the Spring, and crocus fairies are pictured on the cover. Maybe this is one of the reasons I love crocuses and consequently planted so many in my garden. I planted the four predominant colors: lilac, mauve, yellow, and white. Of the approximately 80 species and 30 cultivars, I have no idea what mine are, as I planted them way before I saw the necessity of keeping labels.

Here is the book that inspired me:

Their history is interesting to me as I assumed they were native to Holland, but found their corms were taken there from Constantinople in the 1560’s. Earlier than that, they were painted on frescos on the Island of Crete. 
Since I wrote that posting, I've added many more crocuses. Here are more of the first ones I planted...


I spot another snowdrop shyly blooming behind the grasses in the Serenity Garden. The plastic marker is broken in half and I have only part of the name '... dapice' so don't know what it is, but it's very pretty.

Snowdrop Galanthus (?)

I have only three varieties of hellebore, so my pictures look the same on every spring posting; I must add some different ones.

Top: Hellebore Helleborus sp. Bottom: Helleborus 'Ivory Prince'
Hellebore Helleborus sp

I planted several of those white hellebores with purple spots in the Woodland Walk, but the deer decimated them. Only one bloom survived their ravishes. This brave little hellebore blossom looks so sad ...

On this day last year the daffodils along Daffodil Walk were in glorious bloom.  Today it seems they have a week, or more, to go. I find one lone daffodil flower in the garden that I call Abundance.

The interesting seeds of calycanthus are still still clinging to the shrub; I couldn't resist taking a picture, although they are more reminiscent of fall than spring.

Sweet Shrub, Calycanthus

H.H. is busy removing the logs of the felled white birch from the paddock. We cut it down after it broke in an ice storm. I love it's silvery trunk and I'm so sad to see the tree go.

Time to sort seeds and make plans. I collect together: new seeds, old ones stored in a mason jar in the refrigerator, last year's kitchen garden plan, a blank plan template, a calendar, and a box in which to organize the seed packets.

I begin by making a new plan, carefully rotating my crops to avoid diseases. I generally plant old favorites and try just one or two new things. This year's new venture is the garlic patch that I planted last fall.

Following the instructions on each seed packet and using the calendar to figure out the starting/sowing dates, I file the packets in a box, using index cards for dividers. I organize the seeds by the date they will be started indoors or directly sown outside. I add this information to a calendar dedicated to that purpose. This year, I cut down on the number of seeds I start early as I wanted to spend more time writing this winter. I see that marigolds and petunias could have been started already. Oops! A job for later today. I also note a few more seeds I need to order, such as parsnips. I kept some left-over seeds, forgetting you should only use fresh parsnip seeds.

Hopefully, the weather will improve enough to begin preparing the kitchen garden beds very soon, as I would like to put out onion sets within the week. We have extra work this year with a broken raised bed and rotted wood supporting the edge of the lasagna garden -- both must be replaced. I have a new project, too: my first cold-frame to be constructed along the south side of the potting shed. I'm excited!

Do you have a new project this year?

Think 'spring' -- or whichever season is starting in your corner of the world.
Pamela x

I love reading your comments. I hope you leave one so I’ll know you visited! 
I look forward to visiting your blog in return.


  1. Your crocus blooms are beautiful - definitely on my "must have" list for this fall's bulb plantings. I have only a very few so far.

    I've got my seeds organized and scheduled, similar to what you described. Here in Baltimore, we are a couple weeks ahead of you, weather-wise, so my onion sets and a few other things are already out in the square foot garden. Anxiously awaiting the onslaught of new growth! come see?


    1. Jenny, thank you for visiting and commenting on my posting. I look forward to checking out your website. P. x

  2. I do love those crocuses and hellebores. You are so much more organized about planning your kitchen garden than I am. I tend to do mine on the fly, as the spirit moves me. I'm sure your way is far superior!

  3. Your crocus blooms are beautiful Pam and I enjoyed your story about them. The weather is finally warming here as well, and just today I started up my season and went back to work designing gardens. I am excited to be back outside doing what I love and to be in the garden once again. I enjoyed and can appreciate all your planning, and will look forward to watching your kitchen garden grow!

  4. Pam, I am seriously envious of your garden. My favourite photo of all is the desk all laid out. Beautiful

    1. I'm envious of your greenhouse, Erin. I guess the grass is always greener ....

  5. Oh yes, you do have some beautiful crocuses ... and hellebores ... and daffodils ... and snowdrops. Planning the garden--fun, fun!

  6. I do love those buttery yellow crocuses, aren't they pretty? My veg planting has been scaled down even more this year but I shall still enjoy the few things that I harvest.

    1. I know you like yellow roses, too, Jo. I spot a pattern here. P. x

  7. Well, you have inspired me this morning! I have not planted crocuses before, but I will this fall. Also, a friend has been asking me to come and get some of her hellebores. I will do that next Tuesday when my grandson comes to help me in the garden. Thanks! Love your blogs!

  8. Can you use some of those silver birch logs in the garden, lying or standing. The bark is beautiful!

  9. The crocus are beautiful! How nice to finally see spring back again after all that late March white stuff.
    Someday I hope to be as organized in my approach to the vegetable garden, mine usually ends up a mess and it's always my own fault.
    The cold frame sounds like an excellent project. I've been talking about one myself for years and maybe you'll be the inspiration I need!

  10. The Crocus are all finished here so it is lovely to see the ones in your garden - they are wonderful! I liked seeing seeing your table with all your seed plans. I found an opened packet of parsnip seeds a couple of weeks ago and decided to chit them on paper towel to see how many were viable. Out of about 60-70 seeds, just one germinated so the books are absolutely right - new year; new seed!

  11. So nice to plan then see your dream come to fruition. Lots of hard work after planning too. I know your gardens are always lovely, even the vegetables.

  12. Your kitchen garden is much larger than mine, but I do sketch it out every year. We use a lot of square foot gardening methods, without planning to. It's just something we've always done to maximize our small space. We also like to intermingle cool and hot season crops, knowing full well that radishes will be long gone before we need the space for cucumbers. Just went out to check all my cool crops, and they are all coming up! Soon we'll have kohlrabi, radishes, lettuce, spinach, carrots, sugar snap peas, and green onions. When it gets hot we'll add peppers, beans, tomatoes, and zucchini.

  13. Trying out a cold frame sounds like such a great project! I made a lovely garden plan this winter, ordered all my seeds... and then lost the paper with my garden plan somehow. Thankfully I had ordered all my seeds already and had the records of previous years, so a new plan could be made without too much trouble. Your crocus and hellebore are so pretty! Deer ate my hellebore, too. And here I thought they were supposed to be deer proof... (Is there such a thing?)