Garden Update – February 15, 2014

Garden Update 2014

With over 8 inches of snow still on the ground outside I feel a bit premature posting the first update on this year’s garden. I hope I don’t jinx something.  At this point I’m sure there will be snow on the ground till next fall.  However, before you know it, the Spring birds will be singing and the first flowers will be poking their head’s up.

Depending on which zone you are in, you might be putting seeds out in your garden, getting transplants ready to plant, or maybe you are still looking through catalogs trying to narrow down the many choices.  I’ve lived in zones where this is the time to be putting your plants in the garden and zones (like where we are now) where it is still a few weeks off.

I’m in Zone 5, so we are just over 8 weeks before our last frost date.  There is no exact date at which no more frost is allowed to show up, so I’m going from the mid-point of the range of when we are likely to see no more frost.  If the weather warms up earlier, then I’ll be almost ready.  Seeing how this winter has been so cool, an early Spring seems unlikely to me.  With gardening, though, there are no guarantees so I’m not counting on an early or late Spring, just trying to plan for both.

This past week I gathered up all the seeds I have, my gardening book that has notes as to when to start seeds, opened up a site telling me when our last frost date for our area usually is, a paper and pen.  Then I sat down to figure out what it is I have, need or want.  Working from a list is much easier than a table full of seed packets and open plant catalogs.

blackberry bush bare root transplant

Some of Last Year’s Changes

Last year I removed a weeping cherry tree from the side of our deck.  The previous owners had planted it.  While it was pretty in the Spring when it bloomed, the rest of the year it didn’t serve much of a purpose beyond shading out the grass.  It took me a few years to gather the courage to remove a perfectly healthy plant, but finally did it.  In its place I planted two Arapho blackberry bushes.

Removing the weeping cherry tree led me to thinking about the two large lilac bushes right beside it.  While these bushes are pretty they were way too large, always growing over the deck, into the grass and sending up root sprouts.  I’ve thought about moving these bushes to another part of the yard but didn’t want to move them till I had something to put in their place.  This past Autumn I realized what I really wanted there, but wasn’t sure if it was possible.  After some research I decided upon a Contender Peach tree.  Due to the timing of my ordering the tree, it will arrive this Spring.  Though I removed most of the bushes this past fall, I ran out of time (and energy) to remove the stumps.  My thought was to work on it this winter … then it snowed, and snowed, and snowed, and snowed, and … we’ll you get the point.  When the ground does thaw out enough to plant the tree, I will removed the stumps, add compost to the soil, plant the tree and top with more compost.  Hopefully we will have fruit in a few years.

Looking back, I wish I we had made these changes to the yard when we first moved in 6 years ago.  At the time there were other priorities, which is something I forget in the midst of making the yard fit our family.  I also didn’t know the small difference in the various locations throughout the yard.  For example, how the sun’s location changes through the summer and the way water flows across our yard.  These are important things to know if you are limited in space and don’t have a lot of room for trial and error.

raised beds before redo

Garden Planning for 2014

When I sat down with my list of seeds, I began to think where I might be able to plant various vegetables.  In my mind I worked my way through the various places in the yard I usually plant vegetables and flowers:

  1. Last year I added a new raised bed, relocated one bed and added it to another to create a strawberry bed, and designated the last raised bed for herbs.
  2. I also have a small flower bed next to our shed that has poppies in the Spring but nothing else the rest of the year.  In the past few years, I’ve planted vegetable plants here after the poppies begin to die.
  3. The third place I thought of is a previous flower bed on the south facing side of our house.  This location gets full sun most of the day.  It tends to be very warm and dries out fairly quickly.  I’ve tried a few things here, though haven’t had great success.  This year I’m going to try some other plants, as well as add a mulch around the plants.  I think a drip hose would also work better here than letting a garden hose run on low.
  4. There other places I was thinking of were: hanging pots and containers.
  5. There is also a place under a tree where I removed bushes this past year.  I’ve been trying to figure out what to put there – flowers or vegetables or something else.  At this point it may just be a ground cover.

I did start a few tomato and basil seeds, even though it is a bit early.  Why?  Because some little hands were feeling left out and wanted to help.  I have an overabundance of basil and tomato seeds, all of which need to be used.  If they grow I’ll have some happy little gardeners.  If they don’t, I’ll use some of the other seeds and replant them so I will have some happy little gardeners.  🙂

Have you thought about your garden yet, or are you in place where you have already started it?  Any new things you are hoping to try this year?