Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Getting the garden ready

It is almost time to plant cool season veggies, which, depending on the variety, can be planted anywhere from 4-8 weeks before the last spring frost. This varies from state to state so check your area before deciding when to plant. Our last frost is at the end of May, so I am going to start planting most of my veggies Easter weekend. In the meantime, I want to prep my soil and prepare any structures beforehand.

My soil seemed a little too rocky and sticky to my taste so my husband built me a soil sifter by screwing 4 2x6's together to make a square, attaching some screen to the bottom and then attaching some legs so that it will sit about a foot off the ground. It is a bit time consuming but after sifting my soil, I removed tons of rocks and sticks and was left with the fluffiest soil that roots and root vegetables will love! Be sure to throw back in any worms you sift out since those are your gardens best friends! I amended my soil in the fall with compost and vermiculite but I might throw one more bag in. I like to mix up my compost sources to get a variety of nutrients. I have plans to build my own compost pile, I just need to wait for my husband to find the time to build it since he is currently working 2 jobs and renovating our family room. Maybe this fall...

My cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, kale and chard seeds are growing pretty big. I started hardening them off this week by placing them outside in the sun for a couple hours each day. They need to gradually spend more time outside each day, and even a few nights outside (covered) before I plant them in the garden to prepare them for the outside elements. I also planted my tomatoes, peppers and some herbs from seed, but those won't go into the garden until the end of May. This weekend I will build a support structure for my snap peas so I will post more about that later.  

This is my plan for my first 4'x4' square. Cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage can be planted one per square foot, spinach can be planted 9 per square foot, chard, kale lettuce and cilantro is planted 4 per square foot, and carrots, beets and radishes planted 16 per square foot. Carrots, beets, radish and lettuce can all be continually planted throughout the growing season (every 2-3 weeks) for continual harvest. Lettuce does not do as well in the hottest months but can be grown if given some shade. And as soon as my broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and spinach are harvested, I can use those squares to plant warm season veggies. Also pay attention to how big your plants will get. You want to keep the biggest veggies towards the back of the box facing N or E and keep the shortest ones in the front facing W or S.

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