Garden Planning 2021

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I’ve been planning my 2021 garden since fall and have altered the plans several times. It’s important to keep a record of your plans, and I so far have 5 sketches for my 2021 garden dating back to September. This year will be my second year with a garden, and I’m planning for a 3 season garden. This means I have plans for all seasons, Spring, Summer, and Fall, and plans on what goes well together and what will go in once one stops producing. With this planning also comes many decisions. I have decided to start everything from seeds except what doesn’t use seed. I have also decided to use two new small raised beds and to use two more fabric pots than last year, however since I flipped the beds this fall, I only have one of the five bags I need filled. I’ll also be figuring out how to fill them early this spring. The soil is very compact here and not very fertile. We do have a compost bin, but it is much too small to be a hot pile, so though there is some dirt at the bottom, it will take a very very long time before I’ll get any significant compost from it.

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The Plans

As I mentioned these plans have changed and evolved over time. The first things I did when planning my garden were to make a list of all the vegetables we eat a lot of and we feel would be a fun challenge for the next year. I also sketched out a layout for the garden. Then I began to place the plants I really wanted into the sketch accounting for plant spacing. Then, when you get to your last few plants you have to make the decision of what you want to plant this year. Take into account, how much you currently have stored, how often you eat it, and if you will have the means to store certain vegetables over an extended period of time.

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Once your vegetables are picked, you can tweak your plans over the span of a few weeks. However, when you finally are set on what you plan to grow, be sure to order seeds! Seeds are in a higher demand than normal and it could take a while to get seeds or for them to come back in stock. Beyond that, it will just be deciding when you can plant things, and what can be planted once one plant is ready to be pulled. For example, I already have my garlic in the ground and it came up before the hard freeze came, so I know that will be planted until late July when it will be time to harvest. After that, I will plant beets. I denoted that by a “/” on my sketch. I have several other plants I will be doing that with, I plant to plant Peas, once it gets warm, pull the peas and plant green beans, then come August/September, I’ll be able to plant a second planting of peas. I’ll be doing the same thing with my second new bed, but with two plantings of broccoli and one planting of cabbage. I also Plant to plant potatoes once the ground is warm, and once they are harvested, I will be planting Spinach in the fall. I am in zone 6A, so my timeline will likely be different than yours, however I hope you were able to get some helpful information.

Some possible questions you may have, I’ll try and answer before hand, but feel free to ask any questions you might have down in the comments. I’ll just hop into it. The circles not within a rectangle/square are my fabric pots. I plan to plant one with horseradish, two with sweet potatoes, and two with potatoes and spinach. The rectangles on the left side of the page are 4ft x 8ft beds that are 12 inches deep. These are the beds I started with last year. The square beds on the right of the page will be 4 ft x 4 ft beds, though they have not been constructed yet. There is also a possibility for another 4 ft x 8 ft bed for onions, but that will only happen if the cost of lumber comes down significantly before May. Most people in my area have a consensus not to plant anything in the ground before Memorial Day, however, plants like peas and broccoli are very cold hardy, so their spring planting will probably go into the ground beginning to mid-May. The picture above of dates and veggies underneath will be the days I will have to start my plants inside. For them, I will probably be starting them at the end of the time frame, just so they don’t get too big, if I do have to wait until mid- or late May before planting. What else… I will be planting two rows of tomatoes, and I’ll be doing one variety per row. I will also be planting both banana peppers and bell peppers in my pepper row. I have tons on Marigold seeds, so I’ll be starting them in every flower bed around my house, and I also learned to get them in the ground super early, or they won’t sprout. I learned the same with dill last year.

That’s all I can think to clarify. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to comment below! Thanks for reading!

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Garden Amending and Planting Garlic

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If you follow me on Facebook, you may have seen the post I added yesterday about planting garlic. This is the first year I am seriously trying to grow garlic, and so I’ve done a lot of research and I’m very excited to see what I can get. But, isn’t this garlic gorgeous! I bought these three varieties, all three are organic, disease free, and heirloom varieties. These varieties cam from MIGardener.com. They are not a sponsor, and many varieties are sold out or selling out fast. With that out of the way, before I could plant my garlic, I first had to pull my remaining plants from my raised beds and fabric bags. With this, I was able to save several Parris Island lettuce seeds. I will include those steps at the bottom of this post. I then amended my raised beds, then I planted my garlic.

My first frost day is only 2 weeks away when I planted the garlic yesterday. It is recommended planting garlic at least 3 weeks before first frost, but we just got over a cold snap yesterday where we had 4 nights of frost. The weather is calling for warm temperatures for the next week, so I’m taking a gamble that we won’t be getting another frost for a couple more weeks.

To amend my beds, I first pulled all my plants, but my marigolds. It was just a personal choice to keep them. I think they are beautiful and have a lot of life left in them, so it didn’t feel right pulling them yet, so I just worked around them. To make up for this, I will add some fertilizer in their place next spring to add more nutrients in those spots. Once I pulled the plants, I then pulled down all my netting. This made it easier to move the soil around. Our beds are 8 ft by 4 ft and pressure treated. We added in one fabric bag to one bed and two fabric bags to the other bed. We then split a bag of peat moss between the two beds. We also added 2 bags of aged cow manure into each bed and mixed it all into the top 4 inches of each bed. The reason we added the fabric bags was because the dirt in them had a lot of clay and dried out very quickly. We added 2 bags to one bed because the soil in that second bed was very poor, so we wanted more organic matter in the bed, so we added more dirt. You could also add potting soil if you needed to fill your beds more, but potting soil is expensive, so if top soil were an option, it would be better. I aim for a ratio of 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 compost/manure, and 1/3 top soil for a healthy and balanced soil.

  • Plant garlic rows 6 inches apart
  • Plant garlic cloves 6 inches apart in a row
  • Place garlic cloves 2-3 inches under ground
  • Cover garlic with 4-6 inches of hay or mulch before your first frost
  • Plant garlic at least 3 weeks before your first frost to allow time for root development before they go into dormancy
  • Place chicken wire/hardware cloth over your beds to prevent animals from digging
  • Uncover garlic once risk of frost has passed
  • Water garlic often in the fall and spring and fertilize often in the spring and summer; garlic is a heavy feeder
  • Garlic is ready once the outer 1-2 leafs are dead and dry, any more than that and the garlic won’t dry and will just rot instead

Parris Island lettuce makes yellow flowers, that once fertilized become white fluffs with seeds attached. To get the seed, simply remove the heads that have already gone to seed, remove the stem, then remove the fluff from the seed. You only need a few flowers to get lots of seeds.

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Mid-September Garden Update

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As a first year gardener, I don’t know much about gardening. As a result, I do lots of research and planning, and even still it seems with gardening you just have to learn from your mistakes. The first frost is coming this weekend and I’ve already retired most of my garden. There are a few radishes in the ground still forming, green tomatoes sitting on the vine, and the lettuce flowers beginning to open. The only color that remains in my garden is three marigolds that are still thriving despite the temperatures. My house plants will be coming inside tonight to prepare for the frost, and soon my husband and will be struggling to find enough room to keep them for another winter.

There are so many things I wanted to do in the garden still, but yet the first frost is nearly here. I was able to amend one raised bed. I added manure and peat moss. I mixed it into the top few inches, and covered it with another thin layer of mulch. I had planned to plant garlic this fall, but with the first frost among us, it is likely too late. I may still try to get it in the ground, but we will have to see if it will warm back up at night after this frost. And to protect it from the frost, we’ll likely use hay bales to protect from frost. We’ll have to see when it comes.

I have a small patch of dill growing that I planted this fall. My tomatoes and lettuce will also be adversely affected by the frost. Once they are done, we will amend that bed too with more manure and peat moss. My biggest lesson this year was to keep healthy soil. My tomatoes performed poorly in comparison to most everyone, and though I want to blame the very dry and hot summer, I am sure the poor quality soil played the largest part in that. We also learned our lesson with netting, and that chicken wire is superior to a plastic net that can still let in all sorts of critters.

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Much thought has been going into a garden for next growing season as well. I am researching when to pull crops and when to plant new, when to start seedlings inside, and what crops do well in the spot of another crop. The plans have become more finalized, and I think I found a setup I prefer. Researching, I found a new way to string up beans/peas. It includes making a wooden frame, then using 100% cotton string as the trellis. This is a huge improvement from the plastic and metal my beans grew through this year. Pulling my beans took so long because of all the tangling and growing into the plastic. So this way of trellising will be an improvement and pulling the plants will be way easier too, and the string 100% cotton can be composted, unlike plastics or other artificial materials.

If I do get my garlic soon, I will do a post about that, but otherwise, my garden is just about done for the year. Thank you to everyone who has been seeing and checking up on my progress. Gardening has been a lot of fun and I am very excited to see what next year holds!

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Saving Seeds

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Last spring was the first time putting in a spring garden. Like many others, I went to the store and bought a variety of seeds for plants I wanted in my garden that year. So, below are 5 variety of seeds I’ve saved so far this spring. Four varieties are from plants I had in the garden this year, and the other was from a veggie I got at a local farmer’s market. I hear starting from seed is best for most plants, and if you do have problems with germination, then you could always go out and buy the plant. All seeds can also be stored the same way. If you plan to use them within the next year or two, seeds should be stored somewhere cool and dark. If you want to preserve seeds for 5-10 years, you will want to vacuum seal your seeds or place them in a labeled jar with an oxygen absorber, and store in your fridge or freezer.

Green Beans

I bought these green bean seeds this spring. I’ve stored them in a cool and dark place the keep their viability high for next year. I also got several more seeds from my plants this year. If the pod becomes overly ripe and the seeds are viable, the pod will turn yellow on the vine. The seeds have begun going into development when the pods begin to turn waxy and the skin becomes rubbery. I cut my green beans up as soon as I pick them, and suspicious pods, I will cut around the bean to see if the shell has the rubbery texture. Green bean seeds should be sown directly into the ground.

Onion Seeds

My onions this year were started from sets. They did OK, but they didn’t do great. My soil was part of the problem, and I will be addressing that. I also had 3 bulbs go to seed. When Onions go to seed, they develop a big flower stem out the top, and from there they develop a flower that looks like a yarrow or queen Anne’s lace. Once the flower has been pollinated and begins to close up/turn brown in an area, you can cut off the head and place it in a paper bag for a week or two to finish drying. Once dry, you can shake the flower the drop all the tiny little seeds. The flower can be disposed of, and the seeds stored as desired. Onion seeds should be started inside before being transplanted outside.

Radish Seeds

Radishes are a fast growing crop that are supposed to be the best for first time growers. This variety is cherry belle radishes. The seeds are sown directly into the ground. They are ready to harvest 22 days after they sprout and they only like cool weather. If you leave them in the ground for longer, they will begin to go to seed. I kept 3 radishes in the ground, and as they matured they grew considerably! They grow a main stock with many branches of flowers. After about a week or two they begin to form pods. You should let the pods turn red before harvesting the pods, and you should wait for the pods to dry and become brittle before harvesting all the seeds. You can crush the pods and break them open to extract the seeds. The seeds can then be placed in a bowl or bucket. You can then swirl the seeds and blow onto them to remove any chaff that ended up with the seeds. You may lose some seeds too, but they were likely light and inviable.

Green Pepper Seeds

Green peppers are the one plant I didn’t grow in my garden this year. I bought several green peppers from a local grower at a local farmer’s market. These seeds can easily be saved. When you cut a green pepper, cut around top of the pepper. You should make the circle about 1/2 way from the stem and outer edge of the pepper. Cut down enough to sever the ribs, then you can push down on the stem and pull it clean out. You can then remove any remaining seed from inside the pepper and set aside your top to save seeds after you finish cooking. Place your seeds on a paper towel/ paper plate. Place your paper towel/plate on a sunny windowsill. After about 1-2 hours, come through and stir your seeds to dry any seeds that may be underneath. Let dry another 1-2 hours before storing. Green Pepper plants should be started inside 6-8 weeks before your last frost. If available, buy your pepper locally and not from a supermarket, because then you will know the pepper breed will do well in your climate.

Marigold Seeds

When I first planted marigolds this spring, I was shocked with the seed shape! I had never grown anything from seed before, but I assumed all seeds look similar. I was even more shocked to seed how easy it is to harvest more seeds, and how many seeds you get from just one flower! Use a dead or dying flower. Cut the flower from the plant and take it inside. remove the stem by holding the dried petals at the top. Then, grab the black seeds, and pull off the petals. That’s all! Now you have marigold seeds. These are sown directly into the ground in spring and grow all year.

August 2020 Garden Update

August was an eventful month in the garden. In the beginning of the month, I pulled a tomato plant because of fungus. On the 27th, I pulled my cucumbers from the fabric pots. They began forming very misshapen fruits, and the leaves were dying off rather fast. I also planted radish seeds that day in the two open fabric pots and in the free rows of the raised beds. They already have decent sized sprouts, and the rainy weather helps too. I noticed several of my tomatoes had blossom end rot, but I added some crushed egg shells and with lots of rain in the forecast, it had only happened to 3 tomatoes. Finally, I also ordered garlic to be planted beginning to mid-October. I tried to grow garlic last winter, but I really had no idea what I was doing, so they didn’t make it through the freeze. Finally, I’ve also begun trying to root a pineapple top. And, I found a volunteer pumpkin vine by the house.

I’ve also been thinking extensively about the garden for next Spring, Summer, and Fall. Josh and I plan to build 2 more 8X3 or 4 beds. We plan on placing them by our baby peach tree and we plan to place lower maintenance plants there, though I check on my garden at least once a day. Beans grew really well for us this year, so we plan to grow more green beans. We bought heirloom garlic from MI Gardener, so we plan to grow 3 varieties. We didn’t have much luck at all with tomatoes this summer, so though I’ll be more careful next year to water more often and soak them, I plan to up our quantity to 10 tomato plants with 2 heirloom varieties. I’d like to grow bell and banana peppers next year, potatoes and sweet potatoes, cabbage, broccoli, and more onions, but this time from seed. And, once garlic in harvested in July, we’ll wait about a month or so, and plant some peas. We are ambitious, but this summer has been such a blessing to us that we’d love to have even more fresh veggies next year! We would plant zucchini, yellow squash, or eggplant, but my in-laws always grow lots, so we help absorb some of their excess. Finally, we contemplated more carrots, growing celery, and beets, but we’d like to grow the garden in increments that won’t overwhelm me, and hopefully doubling in size won’t be too much.

This summer we also got quite a bit of seed from our garden. The radish seed pods below is about 1/2 the quantity I got from about 4-5 plants I let go to seed. It took me about 3 hours to break and filter out the seed, and I easily have 100-200 seeds. I also got 3 onion flowers from my sets this year. They formed seeds, but I want at least one other variety, so I will also be buying a packet of seeds. Finally, as I mentioned, my green beans have been doing great. We were harvesting once a week, but just Monday when I was harvesting, I found about 3 pods that were drying. So, I also got 12 new seeds from that, and I will now be harvesting beans twice a week until they slow down. I also am letting my lettuce go to seed, though we’ll see how far they get before I turn my beds.

August 18

August 27

September 1

Plants Outside the Garden

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