Saturday, March 8, 2014

Potatoes and Lettuce and Peas (and More!)

It's been a beautiful day for getting things done in the garden, so of course I am running behind. I spent part of my day just sitting on the back deck, listening to birds and admiring the trays of seedlings that I had moved out to a dappled spot.

The good news is that the trout lilies are blooming in my yard, and that is my signal that the soil is warm enough that peas and other cool-season crops planted now will actually germinate and grow rather than rot in too-cold soil.

I've planted some peas, planted out some little lettuces that I had started indoors a few weeks back, and planted some radish seeds. If all goes well tomorrow, I'll plant some more peas, lettuces, and radishes, and possibly also some spinach and beets.

Not all of the peas that I plant this weekend will be left in place long enough to produce peas; some are going to serve as a late-spring cover crop and will be turned back into the soil about six weeks from now. They will help get the soil in shape for the summer crops that will follow them.

The garlic, shallots, and multiplying onions all made it through the worst of winter and look good. I am hoping that the cold will actually help the hard-neck garlic! When the winter is warm, they don't make as many cloves-per-bulb.

When those onion-family crops all come out in June, they will be followed by a late planting of tomatoes. The June-planted tomatoes won't produce until late August, but they will give my tomato-supply a welcome boost when they finally begin to ripen!

I've also set out (possibly too early) some seed potatoes. On a quick run through Home Depot I saw a display of boxes of seed potatoes, and I found myself buying a pound of Kennebec potatoes in addition to whatever it was we went in for. When I got the box home, the seed potatoes already had good eyes, so after a few days I went ahead and planted them. They haven't poked any green up above the surface yet, which is good, because there is more cold ahead, I'm sure.

I had already placed a small order through the Potato Garden for a pound of Garnet Chili seed potatoes (I grew them once before, and my recollection is that they were wonderful), a pound of Red Pontiac seed potatoes (good to eat and super productive in my yard), and a pound of Rose Finn Apple Fingerlings that a friend wanted a half-pound of, so we will be sharing those. The box of seed potatoes arrived in yesterday's mail. None of the spuds in the box have developed good eyes yet, so it will be another week or two before those can be planted outside.

Really, though, the urge to fill the garden with cool season crops is very hard to resist; there is so much good food that can be planted and grown successfully now! Sadly, most of those crops wouldn't be ready to harvest until sometime in May -- well past the time when I will want to have some of my summer crops planted.  If I want those summer crops ready to harvest in a timely manner, I can't fill the garden with cool-season crops now.

It helps that I spent part of my time at home in the last winter storm mapping out a plan for my 2014 garden; the map/plan supports my resolve to keep my hands off the packs of broccoli, collards, etc plants at the garden stores, so I'll have space for all the peppers, squash, okra, tomatoes, eggplants, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, melons, beans, parching corn, etc. that I have planned to grow in my little garden.

Hope that everyone else is enjoying the beautiful weather!


  1. Hi Amy, May I ask what type of peas you use for cover cropping? Does one particular type serve the soil better over another? Wow you certainly got a lot done today. I went to the community garden and just stood and stared at my "Field of Dreams". Best day ever! Denise at Green Meadows

  2. Hi Denise! I am growing regular, English, sweet, garden peas as my early spring cover crop. Most of my seed packets are the variety 'Wando," which has grown well for me in the past.

    I would never have thought to use a normal vegetable crop as a cover crop if I hadn't read Dick Raymond's book "The Joy of Gardening." In it, he describes an experimental garden plot that is productive even though he never adds nitrogen to it. Instead, each part of the garden is planted with some kind of peas or beans twice each year, and that provides enough nitrogen to support a third crop of some other kind of vegetable.

    Happy to hear that you are enjoying your spot at Green Meadows Preserve! It's really a great place for a community garden. -Amy

  3. Sounds like I need a new book grin!


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