Friday, January 30, 2009

My 2009 Planting Schedule

This is my planting schedule for this year. Obviously dates may vary depending on the condition of the soil, temperature, etc., so these are really my guidelines for the year. Some guideline is better than wondering each day what should be done in the garden. The "d" refers to days to germination. The (T) indicates that seedlings are being planted. The x" shows the distance between plants.

March 15 Indoor
Broccoli (6d )
Chamomile (need light)
Leeks (10-12d) 6” pots
Lettuce (6d)
Parsley (11d)
Parsnips(?) (17d)
Scallions (9d)

April 1 Indoor
Basil (7d)
Chinese Cabbage
Cucumbers April 15 in peat pots
Fennel, bulb
Ground cherries (14d)
Marigolds (6d)
New Zea Spinach scratch and soak first
Pak choi (?)
Peppers (18d)
Tomato (7d)

April Outdoor
Broccoli (T ) 4-30 18” Tolerates shade, interplant lettuce, cutworm collars
Claytonia 4-30
Dandelion (5d) 4-8 6-8” Tolerates shade
Fava beans 4-1
Garlic 4-30 4-5”
Leeks (T) 4-30 6” Partial shade, in trench
Lettuce (+T) 4-1 8” Tolerates shade
Pak Choi (+T) 4-15 (covered) 6”
Parsley (T) 4-30
Parsnips (+T) 4-30 Tolerates shade, seed into garden in late May, in cones.
Peas 4-1 Partial shade, in 3” x 6” trench
Potato 4-15 12” Full sun, acid soil
Scallions (T) 4-15, 4-30 Full sun
Spinach 4-1 (or earlier) Tolerates shade, New seed
Swiss chard 4-30 12”
Zen 4-10, 4-30

May 15 Outdoor

Basil (T) 5-15
Chinese cabbage (T) 5-30
Cucumbers (T) 5-30 Full sun, under black plastic
Cucumbers 5-15 Prepare area
Dandelions 5-15
Edamame (6d) 5-25 Full sun
Fennel, bulb (T) 5-15 12” Full sun
Ground cherry (T) 5-15 24” Full sun
Lettuce 5-15, 5-30
New Zealand Spinach 5-30 Transplants
Pepper (T) 5-30 12” Full sun, cut worm collars
Pole beans (5d) 5-15 (if warm) Full sun
Scallions 5-20
Squash, summer 5-15 Full sun
Swiss chard 5-15 12” Tolerates shade
Tomato (T) 5-15 3’ Full sun, eggshells
Zen 5-15, 5-30

Broccoli 6-1
Chinese Cabbage 7-1 (covered) 12” Partial shade
Collards 7-15 6”=18”
Cucumbers 7-1 Direct sow
Garlic 10-1
Kale 6-20 1”=8” Cover until germination
Spinach 7-4 1”=3”=6” Tolerates shade
Summer Squash (2) 7-1
Zen 6-15, 7-1

Marigolds go with beans, potato, tomato.
Nasturtium go with broccoli, cucumber, kale, squash.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Not As Much Fun As Gardening

As a joint initiative toward straightening up the cellar and preparing for this year's garden I have spent a couple hours the past three days cleaning the little pots, six-packs and trays that I use for starting plants from seed. In addition to vegetables I will also be trying to germinate a lot of milkweed for Monarch Waystation distribution. As a result I need to clean a lot of pots and six-packs. I generally use little green 2-inch pots for vegetables and will use the six-packs for the milkweed (and maybe the marigolds and nasturtiums). Each tray will hold 36 pots or 8 six-packs.

I wash out the pots and six-packs with warm soapy water, trying to dump out any potting soil left from the last use first. After they have soaked for a couple of minutes I clean them out as best I can with my fingers and transfer them to a basin with warm water and a little clorox bleach. After that I set them on trays and let them dry for a day and then stack them up ready for use. It's not exciting but my hands are pretty clean when I am done.

I have space for two trays of seedlings under fluorescent lights in the cellar. But with the milkweed (and the increase in the variety of vegetables that I plan to start indoors) I will need to set up more space for more trays. That's one of the reasons to start cleaning up way in advance of the time (around March 15) when I actually start seed germination.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Cover Crops

Rarely have I used cover crops. But almost everything I read recommends them either for enriching the soil or weed control. This past year I did plant winter rye in most of one bed. It grew thickly and quickly. Other than that I have left the garden beds empty for the winter. I have never planted a cover crop in the spring.

Now I see that there are cover crops that can be planted in the spring and turned under in the summer so that a fall crop can be planted in the same bed. One recommendation for a spring cover crop is buckwheat. There are also cover crops that can be planted in the summer and turned under in the fall. One source recommended sweet clover. Annual rye can be planted in the late summer and turned under the next spring. It apparently does not survive the winter and I am not sure why it would be preferable to winter rye. The only recommendation of winter rye I have found is in Rodales All-New Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening where it is listed for late summer or fall planting. That book also lists annual ryegrass for spring planting where other sources list is only for fall. I believe I planted annual ryegrass one year and it did not do well.

I need to make a note to dig the winter rye under in early spring - probably about the same time as the garden is ready for spinach and other early spring crops.

Winter rye and buckwheat would be "green manure" as opposed to alfalfa or clover that are legumes and add nitrogen to the soil.

Soybeans are also listed as a green manure. I assume that means that when my soy beans have been harvested I should dig the plants into the soil as opposed to adding them to my compost pile. Or do I dig the roots into the soil and put the rest of the plant in the compost pile? Another question to try to answer.

So now back to the garden plan to see what is appropriate to plant in the spaces that have been left for cover crops or that have only a spring or a fall vegetable crop.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Plan Early, Change Often

Planning the garden would seem essential to making really effective use of the available space. My past practice has been to plant whatever is ready to be planted in some open space. This sometimes means that short plants later end up in the shade of taller plants. And, if there is something to companion planting, with some plants next to incompatible plants. Sometimes I don't consider what will happen as plants grow. Last year, as an example, I planted the cucumbers on one side of a four foot wide bed and soybeans (edamame) on the other side. The cucumbers used the soybeans to climb on but the soybeans didn't benefit from this. I should have anticipated that.

This year I had a plan complete in late December. But then we chose a few new crops; I read a little more about companion planting; read that the winter rye in the bed where I planned to plant potatoes in mid-April needed to be dug in for a month before planting; and then we decided to dig out the asparagus after the 2009 harvest. These changes required re-planning the garden. I also wanted to be able to just rotate the beds north one bed at a time each year. That meant making sure that I didn't plant something like tomatoes in the same location in two different beds such that tomatoes one bed didn't rotate in the next year or two to a place where tomatoes had already grown. [I have trouble with leaves wilting and plants being less productive.] So now I have my second detailed plan for this year. Since I have already ordered seeds perhaps I won't have to change the plan again.