Spring Garden 2011 – continued

So now we’ve had another week or two and the weather has gotten warmer. We went out and spent a ridiculous amount of money on plants – just like we do every year.

I now have the front flowerbeds mostly planted. Here’s the left-front bed:

You may notice that this is a little different from what I posted previously. I have not built a box around this bed yet, nor do i have grid to delineate the squares, so the plants are not on 1-foot centers. I’m putting that off until we get ready for the fall garden.

I planted the taller items (especially peas and beans) along the back of the bed so they don’t shade the other plants. I have a small decorative metal trellis behind the peas and Lima beans. Since this is in front of my condo, it needs to look nice.

The pole beans, cucumbers, and tomatoes are each bush varieties. These are usually shorter, more stocky plants. I say “usually” because that’s also assuming that they will be grown in full sun. When the plants get less than a full day of sun (like they will be getting here), you get what is known as “stretching.” The length of the stem between each set of leaves gets longer and the plant looks open and sparse; the stems are thinner and weaker. By planting bush varieties, I’m hoping they will stay within bounds and not sprawl too much.

Also, in and among this bed, I planted a few marigolds. This is both because the dwarf french marigolds help repel some insects and because I just like marigolds. (I keep trying to grow bush sunflowers, but I haven’t had much luck starting them from seed.)

The square labeled old parsley is a plant I had there since last year. It’s trying to go to seed and I’ll probably wind up removing it soon. Parsley is a biennial, which means it has a two-year life span and this one’s time is almost up.

There are still some open squares, so we obviously have room for more stuff.

In the right-front bed, I planted the larger, spreading items:

These are actually 2′ x 2′ squares. I know the zucchini, basil, and watermelon will spread widely. The oregano was planted last year and has already spread to that size. I need to cut it back and dry some of the leaves for use in cooking.

I’m slowly edging my way towards true square-foot gardening. Currently, these are what you might call semi-raised beds. They stand up several inches from the surrounding lawn because over the years I’ve dumped layers topsoil and (more recently) compost on them. This fall, I’m going to try to build wooden boxes and fill them up with a mix of peat, vermiculite, and compost. That should make a nice light soil to grow in.

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