Saturday, April 9, 2011


cherry tomato seedlings and one surprising batch of cilantro
Today I did my first outdoor seed planting. I may have gotten carried away, but I didn't put in anything that can't be replanted if it ends up getting very cold again. I'm hopeful that it won't come to that!

The soil was able to be worked, and it was the perfect day to be in the garden: in the low 60s and overcast with no wind. If only the wind would hold off for one month, the garden would be beautiful, but I know that is not what's going to happen. I didn't bother putting my little plastic row cover over anything-- these are cool-weather plants and will want rain as well. When Steve came out to see it, he had advice for reinforcing the tall pea fence, which will definitely topple when it has plants on it and the winds come.

I planted 10 asparagus crowns down the side of two beds. They can't be harvested for two years. But when they are ready, they will come up with the rhubarb, nice and early, and be finished by the time the tomato plants I'll put in beside them are starting to take off. I'm thankful to YouTube for the great videos on how to plant anything, and this particularly good video on how to plant asparagus crowns. I've also been watching lots of YouTube videos on how to plant seed potatoes. None are as definitive as this one for asparagus.

I planted a bed of onions and beets, and a bed with spinach and then my tall pea fence with snow peas and green arrow shelling peas. I'm really excited about the beets and the shelling peas, which are new for me. I disliked peas as a kid, but I think the best food I've ever eaten is a salad of garden greens with sweet peas from the Farmer's Market and vinegar and oil. I also have a great recipe for pea shoots with salmon and Asian sweet pepper sauce. There's still room for a row of something else in that bed, but I'll wait and put in something that can get going once the peas are waning, like peppers.

The most fun bed was the mixed bed. It has a row of onions and a row of lettuce, a patch of carrots (I did not buy enough carrot seeds!) radishes and the big experiment, potatoes. Potatoes take up so much room (as do onions) that I'm thinking I might still in the end want a permanent garden plot (not raised) for them. Something I can hoe and weed and treat heartily for potato beetles. As it is just an experiment, I put in four russet seed potatoes (a shame, really, when I bought a small bag) with enough space that I can hopefully get some good-sized potatoes. Next week a bag of fingerling potatoes will arrive, and I'll have to find space for them, too!

I'm not one for physical labor, so I was shocked at how fast time went. Turning over the soil, going to the barn for hose, digging trenches and holes for the asparagus-- it was great. The only thing I wanted was more room!

It's very hard for me to know how much space to leave for plants. I don't want to crowd the beds, but I do want to maximize them. I see great drawings of slanted trellises with cucumbers growing on them and under the trellis are cabbages. Carrots Love Tomatoes, about companion planting, seems to suggest you can tuck in plants everywhere if you have raised beds-- some radishes here, some carrots there, herbs all over the place. Still, when I put that little seed in the ground, I want it to have enough space to thrive, and to give me all it's capable of producing.

The good news is that the summer is long-- at least from where I am standing today. Things can be added and "tucked" in here and there. A few squash plants put on one side of a bed can snake over and go where they want out into the field! And next year, I can expand the whole operation again!

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