In The Garden: March 2015

I’ve planted a few cold weather crops in the garden. Our last Spring frost is usually around mid-April, so I have to be patient and wait on planting the warm weather crops until after Tax Day. I’m behind on getting tomato, pepper, and eggplant seedlings started indoors, though I do have artichokes, sage, fennel, celery, roselle hibiscus, and calendula growing under lights waiting to be transplanted outdoors.

So far I’ve planted: broccoli, onions, peas, cabbage, spinach, garlic, dill, carrots, lettuce, and kale.

broccoli and onion bed

In this bed I planted Waltham Broccoli grown from seed. Out of 40 seeds only 24 have made it. Some never germinated, some were weak seedlings, some didn’t survive transplanting, and some have been dug up by the cat who can’t get it through her head that the garden bed is not a litter box. I laid wire fencing over the bed to discourage the cat (and chickens) from scratching in it, which has helped except for a few places at the edges where she can still get under the wire.

Between the broccoli, about every 3″ apart, I planted white and yellow onion sets; 200 bulbs in all. I started 100 yellow and red onions from seed indoors, but they were old seeds and only about 30 germinated. I transplanted these into the bed with the broccoli and other onions.

The two big green clumps in this bed are catnip. Last year the catnip went CRAZY in this bed and pretty much overtook everything. It is a member of the mint family, and will become invasive if not controlled. I left two clumps because I love using catnip in tea, and it makes a great companion plant for repelling garden pests. I’ll have to do better at keeping it under control this year by pruning aggressively. If they become a problem I may have to pot them up.

I planted Lincoln peas (shelling peas) at the end of the broccoli and onion bed, to grow on a trellis.

I mulched the bed heavily with pine needles and leaves I gathered in our woods. This will help keep the soil moist and cool, and encourages worms to populate the bed. It also helps to feed the plants as the organic materials break down in the soil.

cabbage spinach garlic dill peas

Under the row cover I have Henderson’s Charleston Wakefield cabbage, Mammoth Red Rock cabbage, Bloomsdale Long Standing spinach, standard white garlic, dill, and Lincoln peas- all grown from seed.

underneath row cover

Here’s what it looks like under the row cover right now. The row cover serves several purposes. It protects the plants from harsh sunlight after transplant and heavy frosts (even though these are cold tolerant plants, seedlings can still be fragile). It keeps the cat from digging up the plants. It will protect the cabbage from the white cabbage moth which I’ve noted in the past as coming around the first of May. It also keep the chickens from digging up the bed. Water can still get through the row cover, so there isn’t any need to remove it for rain.

I gave the broccoli and cabbage seedlings fish fertilizer with their first watering, to give them an extra boost when they were in transplant shock. It seems to have really helped perk them up.

pea and bean trellis

Our garden is still a mess, but I wanted to show you the vine trellises we installed this week. I’m so excited about them! We attached three cattle panels to the ends of the raised beds to form three arched trellises. The peas I planted in the first two beds will grow up either side of the trellis. I’ll use the other trellises for beans and squash. I think it’ll look really cool if we can get everything to grow well and the arches are covered in vines.

The white barrels there will be rain barrels to water the garden with. We’ll move them next to the greenhouse to catch rain of its roof.

carrots and greens bed

In this bed I’ve seeded: St. Valery Carrots, Buttercrunch lettuce, Red Romaine, Mixed Lettuce, Russian Kale, Siberian Kale, and more Bloomsdale Longstanding Spinach. Most of the seeds were a couple of years old, so I broadcasted them liberally.

herb bed

Here’s the herb bed, still mostly dormant. I planted strawberries in there this week, for lack of a better place to put them. The oregano is just starting to emerge. The chives are always the first thing to come to life in early Spring. I noticed a little parsley coming back as well. I’m anxious to see which herbs will present themselves again this year.

That’s where we are so far this Spring. Can’t wait to see what April’s garden looks like!

What exciting things do you have in store for your garden this year?

Kendra
About Kendra 1117 Articles
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.

17 Comments

  1. Hi Kendra! I just stumbled upon your blog this evening & have been reading your gardening posts. What climate or zone are you in? We are in Zone 8, Southeastern Alabama, & we have a lot of red clay here. I’m going to start a straw bale garden for fall this year. Well, actually I’m going to do a hay bale garden because we don’t have wheat or straw this far south & if I do find any they are insanely expensive. At any rate, straw bale gardening is a great alternative to soil!

  2. It is so nice to see you already have some items planted! We received more snow this morning (Wisconsin) and I haven’t even started my seeds yet!

    I love the way your garden looks with the raised beds. My question for you is if you had to do it again, would you do raised beds or something different? My lawn is a blank slate and I get to create the garden of my dreams this spring and I am not sure how I want to do it (raised beds or a large plot). My husband doesn’t want to do raised beds, but I really like them.

    • Amanda,

      Our soil is hard red clay here, so we had to do raised beds if we wanted anything to grow. We tried for a couple of years to have a garden just tilled in, but never had much luck until we did the raised beds. I still haven’t made up my mind completely on the railroad ties. I’m going to have our soil tested for lead and arsenic to make sure they aren’t leaching chemicals into the garden. Raised beds make it easier to garden, in my opinion, but there is definitely more cost in it with the lumber and fill dirt.

      • Hey there. We live in an area that used to be a railroad hub but it is no longer. When i moved here and started planning my garden the neighbors gave a stern warning to never use railway ties for raised beds because of oil and other highly carcinogenic substances left on the wood that will inevitably leech into your soil and then your food. We used galvanized steel from leftover roofing projects and they are great at keeping weeds out and can be outfitted with wood to keep them sturdy and attractive. Also, they can usually be picked up cheap or free as scrap pieces. Any wood can be used too, as long as the wood is on the outside and not touching the soil.

        • Yeah, I’m planning on taking the railroad ties out eventually and using them for a retaining wall. We can build new raised beds out of fallen trees.

  3. Hi! Love the idea of trellising over the center. I’m planning on planting a lot of squash this year- which varieties are you planning? How do you space them, and could you tell me briefly how you trellis them? Thanks!

    • Jenn,

      I’ll probably plant Table Queen Acorn squash, Waltham Butternut, Greek Sweet Red squash, and Honey Boat Delicata. The winter squashes tend to vine at length. I’ll also plant crooked neck squash and zucchini, but they’re bushes so they won’t be trellised. I try to space my vining squash about 3 ft. apart. As they grow, they’ll put out vines and tendrils which I’ll train up the trellis. Once the vines have a grasp on the trellis, they’ll continue growing on their own from there.

  4. So excited to start my garden this spring. We live where we still have snow and very frosty nights, so have to wait until end of april to do the cold veggies. You plant quite a variety of items. I hope to expand our garden this year. Hubs has lost his zest for gardening (have done it for over 30 yrs), so hoping to get him motivated to do some extra tilling. I could spend my life in the garden digging and planting, but hard to do when I also have a full time job away from the house. Gardening does take a lot of work, but I feel its more of a pleasure and very relazing. I enjoy seeing how much you have done with your garden. Anxious to see what comes next.

  5. I love your garden updates! I’m sort of dreading when summer hits and there are so many things to do that updating the cyber world will be the last thing on your mind!

    I was thinking the same thing as Sarah, I have to say that I’ve already had *smack my forehead* moments this year! Such as starting my pea plants in february, and we still haven’t even tilled the new garden yet. Woops! They are busting to get out of the starter pots.

    I’m too nervous to stick my herbs in the ground, I feel like they’re “safer” in pots for some reason. I need to seriously reconsider, I love that yours are coming back.

    I love re-visiting old posts of yours, I feel like we’re just a few years behind all of the awesome progress your family has made.

    • It makes me happy to know you enjoy my posts, both old and new, Becca 🙂 I’ll *try try try* to keep updating on my garden throughout the year! It’s good for me as well ’cause I like to go back and look at previous years’ gardens to see what I did and how it went. I hope your garden goes well! And definitely consider creating an herb bed for your perennials to keep coming back in each year. The more perennial herbs you can plant, the less work you’ll have to do each year 🙂

  6. You say you have pine needles……I’ve used pine cones in the garden to deter cats away……fill the top off the bed with them, they’re a little pointy for the cats liking…….

  7. I bet it is the catnip that is actually attracting her to the beds.I had some in my beds that they would not leave alone either, until i transplanted it into pots and moved them to another part of the garden.. after that i had no issues.

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