One glorious week off work for Spring planting!
I always begin our first frost-free week in May with uninterrupted time in the garden – digging, planting, sowing seeds and getting everything ready for the summer.
The vegetable garden takes priority above all, and it always begins the evening before by placing the peas in a bowl and covering them with water. It’s an old-time trick and it works like a charm.
WHY IT WORKS? The moisture is sending a signal to the seeds that it is ‘time to grow‘ and triggers germination. After soaking 24 hours and by the time I had the ground prepared and ready to plant – the little peas were already sprouting and eager to go!
HERE WE GO!
The vegetable plot you see below is where I started. The grass was pushing in from the edges, weeds were starting to pop up everywhere and the soil was in need of good compost and digging in.
I’ve never been the type to sit down with pen and paper and plot out exactly where every vegetable will go. It tends to come together intuitively, however, there are certain considerations I ALWAYS keep in mind.
- CROP ROTATION – I never plant tomatoes or any vegetable for that matter, in the same place they were the year before. This helps mitigate any pest or disease problems and more importantly, every plant draws specific nutrients from the soil it needs to grow – moving them around allows the land to remain fertile and balanced.
- HOT SPOTS – I make sure to put the vegetables that require the longest hours of daylight in the sunniest places in the garden. Tomatoes, peppers, corn and cucumbers for example. The ‘cool weather‘ crops like radishes and lettuce do better without the blazing heat.
- POLE BEAN TIPI – It may seem odd, but this is the first structure I put in the garden every year before I plant ANYTHING. It serves as a jumping-off point and the layout seems to flow easily once this is done. IT WORKS for me 🙂
POLE BEANS – Ray helped this year setting up the poles (sourced from our woodland on the property) and tied the twine at regular intervals to the peak. FYI – This guy is a Queen’s Scout – so, if you want a knot tied…he’s your man!
Pole Bean varieties I planted: Scarlet Runner Beans (saved from last year) and Borlotto Fiamma (thanks Dad!)
I alternated sowing the seeds of Scarlet Runners with the Borlotto Fiamma’s so they will be sharing space together on their skyward climb this summer.
TOMATOES went in next to the bean pole.
I double-dug the hole (dig first layer of soil out and set aside – then dig same depth again), amended it with compost, bonemeal and a slow release organic vegetable fertilizer. Mixed all that together and planted six Beefsteak tomatoes.
TIP: Remove the lower leaves on the tomato and plant deeply so the stem is underground – the roots will grow from the sides.
PEAS were fun to plant! We reused a piece of a dog kennel that stretched out into a perfect trellis for the growing peas to climb on. Once the soil was dressed up with my usual compost and organic bone meal mix I ran my finger down each side of the trellis to create a 1 inch deep furrow.
The little peas were already sprouting so it was easy to place them in gently with the sprout pointing straight up 🙂
Heirloom Pea variety I planted: ‘Little Marvel‘
I stood up – looked around and decided the corn needed a sunny spot and began digging the soil and amending in a place I had grown beans the year before.
CORN – We didn’t put in a large crop of corn this year, so I dug and amended a block large enough for 3 rows of corn each about six feet long. I underplanted some bush beans along with the corn as well.
Corn variety I planted: ‘Peaches n Cream’
Bush bean variety I planted: ‘Fagilolo Nano’
CARROTS – I love these guys! A six by six foot bed was created for them and I broadcast the seeds freely with two different varieties. We’ve learned over the years not to worry about thinning them – the act of thinning actually releases a scent that attracts the carrot fly – so we do without. And you know what – they grow just fine that way – sweet and healthy in all sizes.
Carrot varieties I planted: ‘Scarlet Nantes’ and ‘Chantenay Rouge’
FENNEL and ONIONS – We had some garlic growing from last fall in our vegetable patch already – so it made sense to follow the row beside them to add the fennel and onions.
I purchased the fennel in six packs from one of my favourite garden centres, and had onion sets (10 in total) sprouting on hand and ready to go in the ground.
None of the vegetables I planted this year required any ‘special‘ treatment apart from making sure the soil was well dug and topped up with rich compost and bonemeal and/or organic fertilizer. The same procedure was used for the fennel and onion sets. The onions are planted with the tips just slightly below soil level. The fennel – make sure the base of the bulb is just a bit below soil level, as it will rise up as it grows and you want to keep the roots at its base in the soil.
Fennel variety I planted: I have no idea!!…the tag just read “Fennel”
Onion variety I planted: Yellow
KALE – I admit I plant this HUGELY nutritious brassica solely for use in my green smoothies or for kale chips…that’s the two ways I eat it. Ray will drink the occasional smoothie if it comes in a small juice glass and that’s usually accompanied by a ‘this tastes like swamp water‘ look on his face 🙂
Kale variety I planted: ‘Winterbor’
NOTE: A little surprise came with the kale seedlings I picked up – nine were planted in my garden, but one of them had me thinking “One of these doesn’t belong with the others“…in fact…it looks very much like a cabbage.
I’ve only grown cabbage once before in my beginner’s luck era – so this could be interesting! It’s planted on the edge of the kale so it has room to stretch out if it needs to. Don’t you just LOVE SURPRISES in the garden 🙂
CUCUMBERS – Talk about a generous plant – a nice rich soil for it to nestle in, some organic fertilizer…LOTS of space to sprawl and this vegetable will produce cukes so prolifically your head will spin!
If you don’t have the space to let it sprawl on the ground, you can grow it vertically on a trellis – or even in a big pot. Space has never been an issue for us here, so we just let it ramble wherever it feels like going – every now and then a cucumber will escape detection and turn into a BIG YELLOW beast!
Ray found a great recipe for pickling yellow oversized cucumbers last fall – THANK GOODNESS…they were pretty tasty too!!
EGGPLANTS – This is a plant I’ve been wanting to try in my garden for years now and…THIS is the year!
I openly admit it will be a learning curve for me…and I’ll keep you posted on how it goes. All I know is these plants are indigenous to Africa so that told me it wants it HOT…you want it hot?…into the greenhouse you go! We shall see how it grows in a big pot…all green thumbs are crossed. (did you know eggplant was a fruit and not a vegetable?)
Eggplant variety I planted: ‘Black Beauty’ (that’s the purplish-black egg shaped one)
RADICCHIO, RADISHES and LETTUCE – last but not least!
So, by this time I’d worked my way around the garden patch creating beds for each vegetable and found a cooler spot on the east side of the plot for these seeds to be planted.
This was also about 5 days into the whole process – working in blazing sunshine earlier on in my vacation and then the remainder of the week dancing between the raindrops. I was actually doing a lot of other planting and work in the garden besides the vegetable garden, so an overcast sky and rain was ideal – no complaints!!
I seeded the radishes about 1/4 inch deep and lightly covered with soil – same with the lettuce…perhaps shallower for the lettuce – 1/8 inch deep. The radicchio on the other hand, will grow into small or medium size heads that require more space between them – so they were given the larger space out of all these three crops.
Radicchio (Chicory) variety I planted: ‘Palla Rossa Precoce’
Radish heirloom varieties I planted: ‘French Breakfast’ and ‘Cherry Belle’
Lettuce heirloom variety I planted: ‘Prizehead’
PHEW – I’m exhausted just reliving this in my Garden Love post – HA!!
It’s good work though – I slept like a baby all week long…and popped out of bed around 5:30am each morning to hit the ground running for another day. LOVE IT.
“I live in the garden I just sleep in the house.”
Marigolds and Borage completed the picture – and the odd Cosmos tucked in for beauty and colour.
By the end of the day, yesterday – I could happily say – MY VEGETABLE GARDEN IS READY TO GROW!
ALL the colourful little fence and bed markers you see – well, that’s to designate pathways which our dogs, Cali and Max absolutely respect and stick to the whole summer long. Cali is my little gardening buddy, she was a real trooper this week following me everywhere and inspecting each plant that went in the ground.
Over to you! How is your planting going so far this spring? Leave a comment – I love hearing from you! And if anyone has some advice on growing cabbage or eggplant I am ALL EARS 🙂
Garden lovers welcome💚
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