Monday, April 20, 2009

The Great Spring Planting Has Begun

Saturday was sunny and warm, and I am pretty sure that everybody in the area who had planned a garden this year was outside planting. Even better, it seems that more people than usual have garden plans and have been out getting plants and seeds.

One of my friends went out to Lost Mountain Nursery to buy herb plants on Saturday, and the employee he spoke with told him that that day was their busiest day ever. I’ve been out there on busy days before, and I have seen some pretty crazy parking and long lines to check out, so it must have been spectacular.

However, I spent time on Saturday planting some of the tomato plants that I grew from seed and some Raven zucchini seeds (yes, zucchini, even though I know that I will get only a few squash per plant before they keel over). I repotted some plant babies that I’ve raised up from seeds, and I worked to prepare another garden area for bush beans. I planted one area with Burpee Tenderpod bush beans on the 14th , and this second area will be for Roma bush beans. I will plant half of them sometime this week, and the rest a few weeks later. The Roma beans take longer to produce than the Tenderpod, so the staggered planting will (if all goes as planned…) help spread the bean harvest over many weeks.

Also, I planted some Hestia dwarf runner beans in a large pot, and set that near the pots of potatoes that were started in March. Runner beans take much longer to produce than the bush beans, so this strategy, if the runner beans work for me, will also help ensure that the bean harvest extends through the whole summer (is it obvious yet that I like green beans?).

I will be planting more of those dwarf runner beans in a couple of places in the garden, as well. I usually plant flowers in spots all through the garden, to attract pollinators and to make the garden look nicer---it is in the front yard, after all. These beans have pretty red and white flowers that should allow the plants to do double duty: beautifying the yard and producing good food. These Hestia dwarf runner beans are one of my experimental crops for this year.

This was enough work for me, for that one day. Even though some veggies have fairly short ideal planting-time-frames (squash need to go out early to beat the bugs), one great aspect of food gardening is that it isn’t a disaster if it isn’t all planted on the first weekend after the last frost date. In fact, spacing out some plantings, such as for bush beans, ensures that food comes out of the garden fairly continuously over the summer, rather than in one big burst that leaves my kitchen counters heaped with food that has to be “dealt with.”

Of course, it is great to can and freeze and dehydrate some of what the garden provides, but canning, in particular, is hot work. I am happier if I can spread that work out a bit, and not absolutely have to process ALL the beans or ALL the tomatoes all at once. Even with my harvests spread out a bit through the summer, I still usually end up with some veggies for winter.

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