Gearing up for Garden Season in the City
It’s wet out. Soggy, and not very fun working out in the garden. My husband likes it better than I do.
But one thing I do love is taking the food from the garden and preparing it for dinner – for either our family or guests. That’s my kind of gardening. :) You may have seen this post, but it was on all things green, which included many photos from our garden last year. Right now it’s not very pretty.
For a spring garden, here’s a list of what you could be harvesting in April or May:
Gearing up and getting ready for the planting/growing season, I thought I’d walk you through our garden this week! And if you’re just starting out with raised beds, last spring I wrote about gardening and building raised beds in the city.
Plant cold weather crops now by seed, even by start (depending where you live). Where we live, we’ve already planted celery, beets, parsnips, rutabagas and lettuce. Above picture is new Butter Crunch lettuce starts. Our asparagus is now in its second year, so we’re hoping it will come up, too. :)
We’ve also planted potatoes. We made a mistake last year and threw away our starter potatoes, so we had to get more. You can get certified starter potatoes (disease-free, get at garden supply store) or you can take your chances and take potatoes from the grocery store. Or use sprouted potatoes left in your pantry. We had a bag of red new potatoes that were old and they were beginning to “eye out” which is excellent for gardening. We took those potatoes and cut in half (some eyes in one half, some eyes in the other half) and we put them in the ground.
We are not completely out of the woods yet, because we still have frost concerns, so what we do is:
1. Cover the bed with about 4-5 inches of loose straw
2. The shoots will come through the straw and you’ll start seeing the green little leaves.
3. You can always add more straw for insulation or you can cover with garden cloth.
We really recommend potatoes because there’s nothing like the flavor of a homegrown potato. New potatoes are a hit with everybody, and many times you never even need to peel them. They have a fresh taste and they BBQ really well. We start eating them well before they are fully grown (we eat them young) to extend the enjoyment of the growing season. (By the way, that’s our $5 compost bin behind the potatoes.)
You can purchase straw at your local Grange or farm center. You can also use bed sheets or a drop cloth to keep away the frost, but these last 2 you’ll have to remove during the day.
When it comes to your plants getting frost damage, unless it’s a very heavy, deep frost, you are not going to lose all of your plants. The worst around our area is a few leaves turn black and die, but the plant lives on! We’re not planting orchids, we’re planting potatoes. People freak out too much about the “frost.”
Amend the soil with standard soil amendments if the soil is really hard. Use peat moss, compost, either homemade or purchased. We’ve even used potting soil for amendment in our outdoor garden beds.
Now’s the time to plant strawberries. Mound the beds, because they produce more berries that way. It’s also easier to pick a mound than a flat bed. It also looks better. If you want to mound and use the existing irrigation, lay the PVC on the ground and add the dirt on top. That way you don’t have to dig a ditch. Make sure the PVC is 4-6 inches deep. It could be deeper if you get hit with heavy frost in your area. You may have already read my post on planting Seascape strawberries. In fact, the pictures above is our new baby plants bursting through …
It’s also time to plant Kane Raspberries. The flavor is really good and they are unbelievably easy to grow. We’ve neglected ours a little, and they still grow. We started with 5, but they put out so many runners. You can build a formal trellis for them, but the RE philosophy is to keep it simple.
Wherever they grow we add a tomato cage. Why tomato cages? They’re simple and easy. We picked up the cages when we went by a house that had about 12 cages in the front saying FREE. We recommend raspberries over blueberries. We’ve yet to get a decent growing season with our blueberries, probably because of inadequate soil preparation (we’re still figuring it out).
I love how Spring provides us with the exact amount of sun that our raised beds need, to bring some of the tastiest crops to their full potential.
My very top salad picture is actually lettuce that we grew from our AeroGarden, which is in our kitchen. It provides not only baby starts for lettuce, but we can actually snip and put into our salads to give them the absolute freshness that I love in a springtime salad. I plan to do a post on salad greens and the fast rewards of growing your own.
Also, here’s my new baby … a Sweet Bay plant growing in my kitchen. I’m tired of buying fresh bay leaves and throwing them out (not using up). This way I can snip as i go …
For now, this is our garden update.
I’d love to hear about yours? Or, what is one thing “new” that you plan to plant this year?