Spring Garden 2011

We’ve started the spring planting in the last few weeks. I know we’re jumping the gun a bit (the last average date of frost for our area is between April 1 and April 8), but with arrival of a warm weekend, we just couldn’t resist.

The front bed

In early March, I had planted some seed for bush cucumbers and zucchini in peat pellets. The cukes came up, but not the zucchini. (Of course, the thing about zucchini is, you don’t need more than one. Each plant takes up a lot of space and they are very prolific. So, unless you really like it, just plant one.) I chose bush cucumbers because they don’t have the sprawling vines that regular cukes have. I’m hoping they will stay in place and not crowd out the other vegatables. I’ll plant bush tomatoes in a few weeks as well.

To my surprise, one of the local big box stores actually had cell-packs of beans. I bought one and planted them in the back of the bed and planted the cukes in front of them.

I had also planted sweet peas and nasturtiums (all of those came up, of course).

As I mentioned previously, I’m trying to adapt the square-foot gardening method to my flower beds. One of my flower beds is two feet deep by about eleven feet long. Here is my tentative plan for the bed this year. I may wind up spacing out the plants a bit more and planting squares of French dwarf marigolds in between. Partly to help control insects and partly because I just like marigolds.


Note that the plan calls for two basil plants in each 1-foot square. My experience over the last two years is that a single basil plant will grow about three feet high and will easily spread to more than a square foot. We’ll see.

And of course, after that nice warm weekend, the weather turned cold again. I watched as the nighttime temperatures dipped into the 30s, but fortunately it never got down to freezing. The beans and cukes have just sat there, probably waiting for warmer weather.

The back yard

Lettuce bowl

My wife wanted us to plant some lettuce in a pot. I got a clay pot that is somewhat shorter than usual – the kind sometimes called a bulb pan. I got her a 4-pack of red leaf lettuce and a 4-pack of mixed greens and planted them all together in the pot. (Yes, that’s eight plants on one pot. Yes, that’s a lot. It’s an experiment.)

It makes a nice looking planting, but lettuce is a cool weather crop. I put it where it will get a lot of shade, but once the weather turns hot, it may bolt to seed. I need to remember to try it again in the fall. Planting a pot of lettuce in October may be more successful.

We also planted a couple of other crops that prefer cool weather, leeks and garlic. At the same store that had the beans in cell-packs, we found a pot full of leeks. And when I say full, I mean dozens of slender little plants. I separated them as carefully as I could, trying not to break any more roots than I had to. I planted them pretty densely (a few inches apart) in a couple of planters on our patio.

Garlic in a planter box

I also took a head of garlic from the grocery store, divided it into individual cloves, and put it in another planter, also on the patio. However, I think I should have started them in the fall. I understand that, planting in the fall allows the bulb more time to grow. Once warm weather comes, garlic stops producing the bulb and tries to bloom.

Another experiment. We’ll see.

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