It’s snowing again, time to plan my gardens

With all the moving and traveling I did last summer, I didn’t get many opportunities to garden, and I really missed it. This year will be different!  I’m planning to grow lots of veggies at my parents’ house in rural PA.  15 feet by 35 feet of garden goodiness, suckas!  Heh.

I start most plants from organic seed that I order from High Mowing.  I use organic seed starting mix and fully organic growing methods in my garden.  Have I mentioned lately how much I love composting?  I plan my plantings to go in 2 rounds: spring, then summer.  Spring plantings include greens, broccoli, and peas, and the summer plantings are for everything else.  My garden is in zone 6b, so “spring” plantings are in late March / early April, and “summer” is late April to early May.

The varieties I’m planning include Red Russian kale, De Cicco broccoli, and Sugar Ann snap peas.  The kale will stay in the garden as long as it keeps producing, but the mesclun, peas, and broccoli will fade, and I’ll replace them with other plants.

My parents also get frequent animal visitors, like deer and groundhogs.  So I’m planning to get some metal fencing to install around the perimeter.  I might line the edges with cement blocks as well, to make digging under a little harder for the groundhogs.

And I build simple supports for peas, beans, and cucumbers, using simple wood stakes and jute twine.  At the end of the season, I just clip off the jute with the remaining foliage intertwined and toss it in the compost.  Easy-peasy.  I’m also a fan of the Florida weave for staking my tomatoes.  More stakes and more jute twine, and more easy composting.

I’m grouping my vegetables into similar families, mostly so I can rotate the nightshades (peppers and tomatoes).  Tomatoes are particularly susceptible to problems if we grow them in the same spot year after year.  I might switch the celery and onions, since carrots and celery are so similar.

I know there’s a big push lately for square-foot gardening.  I arranged my veggies more like that when I used small raised beds.  But now, with 525 square feet of space, I’m doing rows.  I also want to do my best to keep plants from shading each other unnecessarily.

Last year I grew Luscious F1 Hybrid sweet corn for the first time, and it was a major success!  So, doing that again!  I also like to grow Brandywine tomatoes, as well as Green Zebras, Amish pastes, and orange-colored cherry tomatoes.  I grow bell peppers, as well as jalapeños and Shishitos.  I am hoping for a good black bean crop, in order to dry them for use over the fall and winter.  I’m planting Black Turtle heirloom beans.  And what would a garden season be without some new veggies to try?  My husband eats a lot of carrots and celery, so I’m going to try those this summer: Negovia F1 Hybrid carrots and Tango celery.

Celandine Poppy

It’s also terribly important to attract pollinators, so I will plant echinacea and bee balm just outside the garden fence.  Since I want cut flowers as well, I’ll also plant sunflowers and zinnias.  Oh, I can’t wait to get started!

My other major garden project is designing, installing, and planting a shade garden for my mother.  She made a number of requests, including a seating area, fairy garden, fountain, and bird bath.  Since there are some drainage issues in that area as well, I suggested the inclusion of a bog garden.

I’m a big fan of Bluestone Perennials, so I believe we’ll be purchasing some plants from them.  The main exception to this is the Celandine Poppy.  I can’t find it online, except by seed.  Since poppies are notoriously difficult to transplant, that doesn’t surprise me.  So, I’ll try starting them from seed.  Crossing fingers!

My mother loves yellow, and chose purple as a complementary color.  The goal for this garden is to be soothing, so most of the colors are soft, like the pale purple hosta flowers and bluish-green foliage of the carex.  There will be little pops of color here and there, like with the pulmonaria (lungwort) and the purple-flowering thyme.  She also picked First Frost hosta, which has leaves bordered in yellow that gently fades to cream.  I’m excited about this project, and eager to get started.

What are your gardening plans this year?  Are you planning to repeat some past successes?  Will you try something new?  I’d love to hear about it!

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  1. […] year, my mother asked me to help her made a partial shade garden between their patio and the shed in the back yard. For years, this area was heavily shaded by […]

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