March has been a cold and dry month. I was hoping to have more in place by now, but my houseful of starts means April should be busy. Last weekend did give me the opportunity prep the tomato/pea cages and the pea/corn mounds. The corn mounds are my version of a Three Sisters Garden with early bush peas replacing the pole beans. I could also go with climbing peas but then I would have needed to plant those after the corn had been planting (timing is everything). Also, it’s official – the rosemary is dead as it didn’t overwinter. But I did find rosemary arp at a local garden center, which is supposed to be perennial in Northeast Ohio (fingers crossed for luck).
The Snarky Gardener will be direct sowing in the next week. Included will be kale (Toscano and Red Russian), kohlrabi, Swiss chard, lettuce, and peas (bush and climbing). Leeks, kale, spinach and lavender will be transplanted from hardened off starts.
Snarky Gardener definition:
“Hardening off” means taking your starts outside more and more over time to get them acclimated to the outside world. All the wind, sunshine, and temperature swings take some getting used to for your little ones.
With temperatures in the mid-40’s and bright sun, March 9th turned out to be the first day of 2013 I was able to get into the garden and do some hoeing and planting. The first inch of soil was frozen in spots but otherwise very workable.
First I took care of the garlic that I had wrongly planted back in October (see “Plant Garlic Cloves Not Bulbs“). Then I put in the Jerusalem Artichoke I received from the Food Not Lawns Cleveland seed swap back in January. The back middle of my garden along the northern fence seemed like the best place to bury it. I probably could have spread out the four tubers more, but oh well. (Note: I replanted them a few days later, spreading them out more).
Once the Jerusalem Artichokes were planted, I took on the task of making four east/west crooked rows for the Oregon Sugar Pod II Snow Peas (I suck at straight lines). I’m not sure if I was too early planting them as I read after the fact that they should have soaked in water overnight. So much to learn as a gardener, so many mistakes to make. I also put out my 2-liter bottles to prep the area for spinach. I direct sowed them on 3/14 (12 under the bottles and 6 without as a control group to see if the extra cover helps or hurts).
As my starts have matured (but not the Snarky Gardener), I’ve been planting them in whatever cups and pots I can scrounge. Pictured below is broccoli, kale, kohlrabi, spinach, and Swiss chard (which didn’t thrive and had to be eaten – yum). The plastic drawer allows these to be easily pulled into the house when snow and ice threaten to freeze my little friends. Unfortunately I’m not sure which ones are kale and which ones are kohlrabi (or if I even planted kohlrabi). A poor job of documentation when starting related seeds inside means I’ll just have to play it by ear when planting.
After all this, I decided to check up on my herbs after pulling off the leaf mulch. My sage looked OK, with some leaves green and others more gray. The rosemary is in bad shape and I’d be surprised if it comes back. I’ve even taken it off my latest garden plan (I’m a realistic optimist). I heard there’s a type that can overwinter in Ohio – Rosemary Arp. It’s a hybrid that must come from a transplant. It’s either that or the SG will need to “pot up” his rosemary in the fall. On the positive side, the oregano and thyme came back without issue. I think thyme is my favorite herb, as it grows very well and has both culinary and medicinary uses.
March is finally here and my garden planning is in full swing. I’ve changed my plan literally dozens of times through February as I keep refining it to perfection. Of course it will change even more times in March as I actually put plants into the ground. My starts are doing well and will be ready to transplant in a few weeks. Not sure which ones are going in right away (under 2-liter bottle cloches most likely), and which ones will get the hardening off treatment. For now I’m playing it by ear as to who goes out when. I’ve also decided to go pea crazy as I’ve been reading too much about nitrogen fixing and cover crops lately. I’ll purchase my peas when I go to get my spring onions and potatoes at the Garden Spot in Ravenna in a week or two.
Last year I signed up for GrowVeg.com Garden Planner (“The smart way to plan your garden.”) It was $40 for two years and let’s me play “SimGarden” as much as I want, moving my virtual plants around and adding new ones. I just discovered a feature that publishes one garden plan at a time. The Fenced Back Yard garden plan (which is my primary garden) is located at http://www.growveg.com/garden-plan.aspx?p=312234 and also appears in the Garden Plan links to the right. My goal is to republish every month so everyone can see the current state of my gardens (yes, there are more than one). I will also post plans and pictures each month so each garden’s evolution can be tracked.
As you can see from the pictures below, the fence is laying (or is that lying?) down on the southern side as I’m increasing my garden size from 50’x20′ to 50’x30′ this spring. I will be tilling the new area in March or April (weather permitting) because it’s currently lawn, but not the rest as I’m going no-till as much as possible. Also, in the foreground, you can see the mounds of leaves that I piled up during the fall (thanks to my John Deere lawn sweeper). All these leaves from my lawn (oak and maple mostly) will be used as garden mulch throughout this year.
The plants you see in the garden plan below are those I wintered over. The top of the plan is to the north with a big sugar maple tree to the north west. That means I can’t plant anything that needs full sun in that corner (where the “Vit” corn salad/mache and “Seven Top” turnip greens are currently). I found this out the hard way in 2011 when I planted corn and cucumbers over there and they grew poorly (micro corn anyone?).