It’s that time of year again. Another ominous blog title heralds that spring has sprung, I’ve taken an inventory of seeds, and my garden plans are underway. I usually have grand, overly-ambitious plans every year, and only about 1/3 of the plan ever manifests into the actual garden whether I ran out of time, got lazy, or something just wouldn’t grow.
This year is no different. I have a million and one plants I want to try and a lot of what will actually be growing in the garden this year will be determined by which starts I end up with, any freak storms that happen, and how hot summer is. I am still dead set and determined to try potatoes, onions, celery, and strawberries again despite failures in years past. Oh – I can get strawberries to grow from transplants, but usually the damn squirrels eat them.
This year I’ve actually done more research and have learned a few things courtesy the county extension office. Like, for example, here in Colorado it gets too hot in summer to effectively plant brussel sprouts and cabbage in early spring. The hot weather will kick its ass into the dirt. Instead – it’s best to sow both in July for an autumn harvest.
The mistake I made with potatoes a few years back was I stupidly grew them in a black garbage can without sufficient drainage and the seed potatoes rotted. Plus the black garbage can absorbed too much heat and warmed the soil too much, effectively killing the plants. Potatoes like cooler soil temps. This year I’m trying a bag.
I also discovered it’s best to direct sow cuke and squash seeds into the earth if I’m planting in an in-ground bed, but if I’m growing in pots, I want to start with transplants that are no more than 2-3 weeks old. For whatever reason – transplants into the ground directly just don’t work as well for me. I think it’s due to the hard clay soil we have here. No matter how much mulch or garden soil I work into my clay soil garden beds — some plants just refuse to grow in them. The exception, of course, being tomatoes. Tomatoes will grow just about anywhere with enough water and sun. I have grown some massive, awesome tomatoes over the years.
I also did a great deal of companion planting research this year. I started this research last year
to maximize my container gardens, but this will be my first year implementing the idea in the front yard. Usually I grow flowers in 7 pots in front of our house. So I asked myself — why am I just growing flowers? I could be growing herbs in those pots, along with marigolds, and maybe even a few tomato plants. So a few cherry and grape tomato plants will be going into the front pots this year. To which one of my friends said, “What if your neighbors steal them?” (i.e. the tomatoes, not the plants) Haha! If my neighbors are stealing my tomatoes, then they need them far more than I do and I’m happy to grow food for them, too. If there’s one thing I can grow like a mother-fucker — it’s tomatoes. That and peppers. Last year we made smoked salsa from our garden tomatoes and peppers that our guests raved about. I’m pretty sure our salsa is now legendary. I grow it, Matt smokes it… you get the drill. This year – with homegrown onions hopefully!
I am also going to try (again!), to grow asparagus. Asparagus is a bitch. It has to be grown in the right place in the right condition. I’m thinking along the south fence in the garden. I figure by the time the neighbor gets around to bitching about it (give it three years) like he did our little bush that was growing there (which he subsequently cut down without permission), I can hand him a few handfuls of asparagus and hopefully that will be that. I’ve already tried growing asparagus from seed sown directly into the ground, and roots, both with NO success. So this time I’m going to attempt to start it from seed and then transplant it. I might try roots again if transplants don’t work. I think it may have been the area I planted before. It just doesn’t get enough sun.
I might need to cut back some trees in back to help my hops get more sun this year, too. At this point, the hops are established. Thank goodness something is!
Okay – so what am I definitely going to ATTEMPT to plant this year?
Well, indoors I’m starting all the tomatoes and peppers this month. Next month I will start the cantaloupe, pumpkin, cucumbers, and squash transplants. I’ll likely plant a few extra seeds in the ground for those, too. Just in case. I am thinking I’ll also start the marigolds, sage, chives, lavendar, lemon balm, luffa (yes, I am growing Lufa this year), horehound and basil next month. Probably in the green house in flats, with some seeds reserved for direct sowing just in case.
I’ll start the peas, radishes, onions and spinach this month (along with strawberries).
Next month I’ll start the beets and potatoes. I am going to grow as much as I can both in ground and in pots. Squash takes up lots of room – though I have successfully grown it in huge containers. In mid-May (which is after our final frost – the rule is you can’t plant tender plants until after Mother’s day), out come the beans and the cucumbers and squash. Again, I’m going to try from transplants and if that doesn’t work, direct sowing because I’m putting these babies directly into my garden beds.
Then, at the end of May I’ll bring out my peppers, eggplants, tomatoes, and melon transplants (I have had shit luck with melons in years past and I think this year I’m going to put them in a pot) and so on.
Since I still plan on planting all of my pots, I am going to do fun combinations like celery with beans. Or chives and cucumbers…. I’m also going to try trellising my cukes this year. We’ll see. Like I said – ambitious plans.
So – what I am PLANNING on growing in the garden this year…
- Cabbage (plant in summer)
- Brussel Sprouts (plant in summer)
- Peppers (several varieties – jalapeno and yellow)
- Tomatoes (salsa and salad varieties, cherry, grape…)
- Lettuce (Romaine + Mix)
- Onions (not table onions – real, honest to goodness, onions.
- Garlic (this coming autumn)
- Winter Squash
- Strawberry (in greenhouse)
- Cantaloupe (in pots)
- Apples (existing trees)
- Raspberries (existing bushes)
- Peach (existing tree)
- Blueberries (existing bush – Tophat variety)
Herbs for Pots
- Lemon Balm
- Mint (existing in garden)
Flowers and Other for Pots
What will reasonably grow and give me good yields is another story altogether. We’ll revisit my garden a few times over the next six months I’m sure. More adventures in greenhouse gardening, container gardening, and veggie gardening at a mile high coming soon!
What are you growing this year? Let’s talk plants!