Tag Archives: garden journal

February & March, In Retrospect

Most years, March is the busiest month of the year in the garden for me.  It’s the perfect time for planting out perennials and shrubs and a wide variety are readily available.  Mail order nurseries ship hardy plants to my zone in March or April, and the nurseries are well stocked.  There’s enough warm sunny weather that it’s nice to get outside, and there’s plenty of cleanup work to do after fall and winter.

Due to a broken ankle, my gardening time has been drastically curtailed this year.  Working around that has involved identifying tasks that can be done on crutches or sitting on a scooter, badgering the Chief of Implementation and our offspring and a LOT of letting go of things that aren’t getting done this year.  We’ve postponed starting a couple of beehives until next spring; much of the vegetable garden will be planted late if at all; and I have no plans for new flower beds this year despite having a big lot with lots of blank space.

In spite of that, we’ve gotten a good bit done in the yard and planted a lot of new plants and replacements.  Most of my mail order plants are in the ground, largely thanks to my daughter and her significant other. We even did a little direct seeding of hardy annuals in the Front Island Bed last week.  Winter sown seedlings are doing fairly well, although I planted a fair number of slow germination seeds this year that aren’t up yet.  I do have one Meconopsis cambrica (Welsh Poppy) seedling so far.  Supposedly, this is the easiest kind to grow, and reliably perennial.  I’m growing double orange and double yellow ones.

It’s also been a lovely spring, though earlier than usual.  Thankfully we’ve had enough cool weather that flowers have lasted pretty well.  Here’s a quick glance at what’s bloomed so far.

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Photo credits go to my daughter who posts her art at http://cricketwerks.tumblr.com/

Here’s to a lovely growing season for everyone!

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2012 Vegetable Garden Plans

At this point, I’m actually not too far behind in gardening.  The Chief of Implementation has been tremendously helpful along with Cricketwerks and her significant other.  We started the vegetable garden last year with the first two beds which were planted with tomatoes.  The deer were very grateful, but we harvested zilch.  THIS year, we’ll be fencing the garden as soon as possible after the other six beds are built.  Since they get planted at different times, we can spread the construction out.

Last year’s tomato beds are this year’s legume beds and I’m hoping to plant peas this weekend and transplant perennial green onions.  I’ll add some vermiculite to the beds before we plant and mulch afterward.  I’ve been reading that vermiculite is a good permanent amendment to improve drainage and the soil here is heavy clay.  Since this is the legume bed and it was thoroughly amended last year with compost and thoroughly mulched with shredded wood, I won’t add any fertilizer.  I’ve missed the first two planned plantings for this year, but planting outside during March is always a gamble, so I’m not too stressed.  I’m grateful to get ANY spring gardening done with a broken ankle.

The Chief of implementation has built the next pair of beds which will be planted with greens this year.  This weekend we’ll amend them with a couple of wheelbarrows of compost each and also with vermiculite.  I’ll plant out a few seedlings and direct seed a wide variety of cool season and long season greens.

Before mid May, he’ll build a pair for tomatoes and another pair for squash.  In addition to compost and vermiculite, we’ll amend those with homemade fertilizer.  We’ll also fence the whole bed with 7′ tall deer netting hoping to cut down on their depredations.

Here’s a diagram of the plan for this year.

2012 Veg Garden Plan

The entire garden is eight raised beds 8′ x 4′.  There’s a tree stump in the middle of the second row that’s not shown which probably cuts four to six square feet out of the bed.  I plant each bed with one or more botanical families and rotate each year so the same family is in the same bed every four years.

For more details, check out the Vegetable Garden Journal page.  It includes an overview of the location, snapshots of the garden so far and links to detailed information on each of the beds including specific varieties I’m planting. this year.

Here’s hoping for good harvests for everyone!

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Armchair Gardening

Winter has definitely arrived.  A few nights have dipped into the high teens; a few days have topped out around freezing.  There’s just not much to do outside right now.  Oddly, this is one of my favorite times of the year for gardening.  It’s all still in my head, and it’s BEAUTIFUL.  As the year goes on, I deal with real plants, and they’re taller or shorter than they were in my head.  They bloom earlier or later than I planned and the combination that was amazing on paper doesn’t happen at all in real life.  Worst of all, the beautiful picture in the catalog and the spindly dying twig in my garden share no resemblance at all.  I’m a gardener though, so hope springs eternal…

This time of year, I’m neck deep in planning next year’s garden: sorting through seeds, scribbled notes, garden catalogs and gardening books while I jot new notes, sketch out plans, and review lessons learned and previous successes.  I’ve spent the last couple of weeks pulling together scattered notes, documents and spreadsheets to put together an organized Garden Journal.  As I complete each “chapter”, I’m posting it online.  To see progress so far, click on the new Garden Journal link at the top of every page.  It will probably take a couple of years to finish, but the work in progress isn’t too bad.

Of course, all the planning leads right to execution.  I’ve already placed several seed catalog orders, with a few more planned.  Pinetree Seeds (https://www.superseeds.com) is my first stop for gardening every year.  The prices are reasonable, the selection is great, always including a few fun odds and ends, and their catalog includes the bonus of a book section with fun bargains.  My next stop is Select Seeds (http://www.selectseeds.com).  They’re a little more expensive, but extremely fun.  They specialize in old fashioned flowers full of fragrance and style, many of which reseed.  This year, I’ve also ordered from Plant World Seeds (http://www.plant-world-seeds.com) a company in Britain which offers many unusual seeds not available elsewhere.  Shipping is quite reasonable, especially considering it’s international.  Finally, a friend pointed me to the Sample Seed Shop (http://sampleseeds.com) where I found some great bargains including an heirloom strain of garlic.  It will take two years to grow from bulbils, but the fruit trees will enjoy the protection while it’s growing.

After last year’s fruit planting extravaganza, I’m focusing on the new vegetable garden this year.  It’s been years since I had a full vegetable garden, and the new planned garden is more than twice the size of my old vegetable garden.  I’ve also been reading up on permaculture and sustainable gardening and farming, so that’s impacted my garden planning this year.  Check out the vegetable garden plan in chapter 22 of the Garden Journal.  (Link to the Garden Journal is at the top of the page, remember?)

It’s also prime season for Winter Sowing.  After two short sessions, here’s a list of what I’ve winter sown so far:

Latin Name Common Name
Meconopsis cambrica ‘Muriel Brown’ Welsh Poppy ‘Muriel Brown’
Meconopsis cambrica floro pleno aurantiaca Welsh Poppy, Double Golden
Roscoea cautleyoides
Roscoea scillifolia (alpina) pink
Primula auricula ‘Viennese Waltz’
Primula japonica ‘Miller’s Crimson’
Liatris spicata Gayfeather
Eupatorium maculatum purpureum Joe Pye Weed
Ligularia dentata ‘Othello’
Lysimachia punctata
Eryngium giganteum Miss Wilmott’s Ghost
Leycesteria formosa aurea ‘Gold Leaf’
Helleborus lividus
Allium sativum ‘Niawanda Park’ Garlic ‘Niawanda Park’
Amsonia tabernaemontana
Adlumia fungosa Alleghany Vine
Aquilegia flabellata var pumila kurilensis ‘Rosea’ Columbine
Aquilegia sp Mixed Double Columbine
Aristolochia fimbriata Native Dutchman’s Pipevine
Primula beesiana
Vernonia fasciculata Ironweed

At the top of the page is a snapshot of my small herd of winter sown milk jugs.  For more information on winter sowing, check out http://www.wintersown.org/

Happy Armchair gardening to all!

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