Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Gardening 101: Time to Plant

You've developed a plan, you've prepared the site of your garden, you've planted the early seeds. Now it's time to plant the rest of your garden. For me, that's tomatoes, bell peppers, some herbs, a fava bean plant, the various squash seeds I chose for the year, some cosmos flowers and zinnias. Lots and lots of zinnias.

I usually aim to get my planting completed by early May, once the danger of a frost has passed. This year, I went a bit earlier and planted the rest of my garden on the last weekend of April. We had a spot of unusual warmth with temps north of 90 degrees that weekend and I took it as a sign and planted. The basic layout had already been organized and I can't stress enough the importance of having a layout plan. Don't overcrowd the space. The tiny tomato that measures just an inch right now will grow to be nearly 3 feet tall, with spreading branches. If you want tomatoes, it will want space.

At the garden shop, you should choose healthy-looking plants.....no dead leaves, no suspicious spots, nothing dried out. If the plants look crummy, take your business elsewhere. Be judicious about how much you can plant. You may want 6 types of tomatoes, but if the plants are sold in sets of 6, that's either 36 plants in your garden OR the purposive wasting of plants. So pick a few (or, better yet, go shopping with a fellow gardener and split the plants).

Once you get the plants home, it's time to plant. Seedlings can stay outside for a day or two before you plant, but not much more than that. Keep them well-watered if you're waiting to plant. In terms of the garden plot itself, the soil shouldn't be too wet, but it should be moist. I count my plants and dig all my holes and prepare my furrows before I put anything in the ground; that way I can be sure that there is a place for everything. That's oregano in the picture below.
And here's a close-up of a tomato plant:
I plant mini pumpkins and squash in a separate row located just to the east of my dwarf fruit trees. Here's squash alley:
JT helped put those seeds in the hills (I like to pretend that he will also be willing to eat the produce of his efforts):
A note on mint: plant it in a separate, large pot. Keep it well away from the rest of your garden. Mint grows mighty quickly and will take root in your garden with a vengeance. The smell is lovely and a few mint leaves in some iced tea or lemonade is heavenly, but the stuff will commence to take over your entire garden if you let it. Don't fall victim to its wily ways.

The week after planting, I check to make sure the new plants are getting the water they need (about an inch of rain every 4 days or so....3 days if temps are warmer). I placed an old garden tile around a few of the more vulnerable looking plants but that won't last for too long. Gardens demand survival of the fittest. Next weekend, I will weed and add some organic fertilizer that I picked up at the garden shop. I will also set out tomato cages. I call this the waiting season and I check my garden nearly every day, looking for any sign that a new plant has taken root and started growing.
Though it doesn't look like much right now, it won't be long before I have flowers for my vases and a freshly-picked tomato for my supper.

1 comment:

Nichole said...

We planted our first garden this year. Our kids are finally old enough that we felt we could devote more time to growing something besides impatient.