It’s Planting Time Again

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Planting Day

The snow and frost have finally stopped (we hope!) and things are growing strong. This is one of my favorite times of the year. Everything is fresh and green. We can finally get our hands dirty, tuck in our fragile little plants, and dream of warmer days and the harvest to come.

I finally finished planting my main garden. It has been a long process and it has been interesting to see all of my hard work come to fruition. It will still need plenty of tweaking, trellising, and weeding but I think it is a good start and an improvement over last year. Check it out!

Seed Starting

This is the first year I started plants from seeds and I had mixed results. The main thing I figured out is that I really do need a good grow light setup. Our large south-facing window helped some but was not nearly enough. The biggest problem is that I have to figure out how to do this where the cats won’t feast on the seedlings. At least I have several months to figure this out.

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Another problem is with the newspaper pots I made. I still love this newspaper pot-making tool for making cheap and convenient pots for my starts. The problem is that the roots don’t really penetrate the newspaper well, so next year I know to remove the paper when transplanting to a bigger pot, just like I would with any other starter pot.

My one star was the peanuts. They grew into happy, beautiful plants. Everything else was tiny; my tomatoes and peppers didn’t even make 2″ tall. The squashes got way too big, but that was because I planted them a month early and they were very tall, weak, and spindly.
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Planning

I used the same free website to plan out the layout of my garden as last year, though it has changed its name from Smart Gardener to Zukeeni. Note: this is not a sponsored post, I just want to share this great resource with you. I love that it helps me to see the layout and easily move things around until I like the results. It also helps me keep track of the varieties I planted and how they produce so I can plan accordingly next year.

My garden is currently 17’x23′, so I have a pretty decent amount of space for a lot in the suburbs. Of course, I want to plant everything and a lot of it, so fitting everything in is a little difficult. This is the layout I finally settled on.

2016 Garden Layout

Companion Planting

I also tried to consider companion planting this year. I researched which plants worked well together and which didn’t, and factored that into my layout. I planted basil around my tomatoes to repel bugs and help the flavor. I put radishes and dill near the cucumbers to keep away bugs and sunflowers to help as a natural trellis. I also sprinkled marigolds around the tomatoes and pole beans to deter pests. We will see how it works.

Tilling

This year we are trying the no-till gardening method. It is supposed to help the soil quality and moisture retention while also reducing weeds. And it saves the time and effort of tilling. Score! Last fall we mowed and bagged all of our leaves and then spread them over the garden. It started the season looking like this. I just weeded what little was there (after taking the picture) and it was ready to plant.

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I did sow a few early season plants earlier this Spring. In the front right corner, I already had garlic leftover from last year. To that, I added onion sets, rainbow carrots, leeks, and rutabaga. I am afraid I got the leeks and rutabaga in a bit late, though, and they aren’t doing much. Time will tell. In the back, I also planted sugar snap peas and shelling peas. So far, they are quite happy with the cool Spring we had.

 Planting Day

So, we ended up planting on a day that almost reached 90 degrees. In full sun. All day. We cooked ourselves and possibly some of the plants, but we got them in. I ended up doing a couple tweaks from the plan, but it mostly worked out smoothly.

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This is what we planted in here. I am testing some fun, new varieties and I chose others because the seeds were free, leftover, or that was all I could find.

Grow all the things!!!

Yes, I know that is a lot to fit into this space. I am hoping to grow the squashes vertically up the back fence and the watermelon can grow out into the yard. It looks like some of my seedlings won’t make it, so that will free up space and I will have to replace some of them. This is what it looks like right now. Not very impressive, but that’s because most of the plants are extremely tiny.

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So that’s it so far. I have also been working on some container gardening, trellising, and other methods to utilize my growing space. Look out for a post or two on that soon! I’m always looking for new ways to have a healthier and more growing space. Do you have any tips to share?

 

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